Growing up as the son of a small business owner gave Sen. Charles Schumer an understanding of the pains today's Long Island small businesses face in tough economic times. The statesman spoke of these aches and potential cures during his address earlier this week at Hofstra University.
"I saw how small businesses struggle," the Democratic senator told the audience of watching his father, the owner of an exterminating business, work hard and meet the challenges many entrepreneurs face.
The event, sponsored by the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce (NCCC) and hosted by Hofstra University, focused on the concerns of small businesses throughout Long Island. The notion of pain, and how to help turn things around, was on the tongues of many in attendance this morning.
Introducing Schumer, Chris Murray, NCCC president, said now is an opportune time to hear of the initiatives in Washington that are helping small businesses.
"As small business owners, we know there are a lot of difficult issues facing us today," Murray said.
Schumer reminded the audience that two years ago the country faced many tough problems. In the aftermath of Lehman Brothers going under and behemoth AIG teetering, financial hardships rippled through the nation and uncertainty was dominant.
Schumer called the decision of the federal government to enact the stimulus plan or face what could be another depression "one of the most sobering moments in my 36 years of government."
While businesses have been hard hit by the economy, Schumer said, "It could have been a lot worse."
Programs have been enacted to help throw a life line to struggling businesses, the senator said. He pointed to a payroll tax "holiday" for qualifying hires and boosting the cap on capital available for small business loans.
Overall, for Long Islanders, a push is on to keep the economy going on the right track, Schumer said. Investment is being made in Brookhaven Labs, which will foster more development in the burgeoning nanotechnology industry, he explained. Deductions are being given for mass transit commuters. And corporations are being courted to set up their headquarters on Long Island, as Canon recently did on Route 110, Schumer said, all helping to bring dollars and traffic to small businesses.
The senator ended his talk on a positive note.
"It is truly my belief — I'm an optimist — that for Long Island and America, that I love, the best is yet to come."