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Free Enterprise is Alive and Well | Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

The business climate in our region, and for that matter, the entire country, has been dismissal for far too long. The long, hard winter of 2013-14 hasn’t made matters any better. Our Main Street economy has absorbed one blow after another and we desperately need to see things pick up with positive signs of growth and opportunity.

Small businesses in our nation represent over 50 percent of the working population. There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US and over 22 million are self-employed.

120 million individuals work in a small business and those businesses have generated over 65 percent of the net new jobs since 1995. Over 500,000 new businesses get started each month. Unfortunately, more small businesses shut down than start up each month and the vast majority of small businesses will fail to survive.

Diving into the highly competitive world of small business startups isn’t for the faint of heart. Yet the lure of success is what has made the American small business entrepreneur the envy of the world. Many with little more than a few dollars and dream have changed the world and those success stories continue to inspire individuals to risk everything.

This year, I enter my 40th year in the business community. Most recently, it seemed to me and other business owners I’ve spoken with that the odds are just stacked too high against small business. Perhaps our best days are behind us. Retired business people were happy to no longer be in the position we find ourselves and it seemed certain that our youth would rather have government guarantees in the way of assistance rather than endless opportunities for self reliance. Then something appears on the horizon that rekindles your faith in the system that demands hard work, innovation and creativity.

I had the great privilege last week to serve as a judge at the SUNY Plattsburgh Free Enterprise Marathon event. I served alongside Bob Parks from the Press Republican, Hanna Provost of Glens Falls National Bank and Colleen Lemza of Adirondack Grilling Pellets. We can all attest to the fact that a strong passion burns in the hearts of our young area students for the American Free Enterprise System and the opportunity that excites the American sprit to challenge the odds and lay it all on the line for a chance to succeed. These students were not looking for handouts but opportunities. They were there to hone their skills and test their mettle.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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