A salute to business — large and small

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

In the next several weeks, counties and towns around Virginia will celebrate businesses in their communities. I applaud them for recognizing those businesses and join them in expressing their thanks. I too appreciate the jobs they create.

As we watch the national news and those running for president, it appalls me, and I hope you, that most of the 20 or so running believe the only value of those businesses is they are another source of tax money that government can confiscate for their pet projects to buy the votes of potential voters. That is not something that only happens on the federal level. In the Senate race, one candidate said that the General Assembly was wrong for returning tax money to taxpayers this year. He believes the state should have spent it.

Some who have never operated or managed a business are more inclined to believe that all businesses are rich and can simply write a check for whatever amount the government wants. They simply do not understand that there are generally as many bills to be paid as there is cash coming in the door. It is hard for those same people to understand that equipment must be purchased as well as a building to house equipment and employees. Not only do businesses need employees, they pay benefits for those employees. They must be competitive or employees will look elsewhere. When employees come and go, the businesses that are not competitive end up spending far more for training and re-training employees.


Small businesses are the backbone of most communities. They live in our communities; their children or grandchildren go to school with yours. They are the first place that every community’s charities approach when they need donations, from sports teams to health walks. They worry about their employees who often are friends or fellow church members. Small-business owners are usually the last to get paid each month, and then only if there is any money left after all other expenses. Those of us who have had businesses can testify that some months and years that is what happens.

It has been my honor to serve as the chairman of Virginia’s Small Business Commission in the past. This commission was created by the General Assembly. It is made up of legislators of both parties and small-business owners appointed by the Governor. Delegate Danny Marshall succeeded me as chairman for a term. I now serve as vice chairman. The goal of the Commission is to address the challenges that small businesses face.


Large businesses are what the public thinks about when they generally bash business. They too have challenges that they must face. When the government expects too much of those larger businesses, they are the ones that are more likely to leave a state or come to a state because of less onerous regulations. That is why we, in the General Assembly, must always be aware of how those regulations are affecting those businesses. We must balance between our responsibility to protect Virginia’s environment and issues dealing with workers safety and not allow unneeded or antiquated regulations from making Virginia attractive to those companies.

I have been honored to serve as chairman of the MEI Commission for the last year. That commission’s goal is to keep the reins on the administration to prevent the governor’s administration from offering too much as an incentive to come to Virginia. Everyone in Virginia’s government should be interested in expanding existing businesses, attracting new employers, but remembering to use commonsense in what is good and appropriate for communities. It made sense to approve the expansion of Microsoft in Mecklenburg because we are currently training the employees needed. It would not have made sense to attract a company that does not have the infrastructure and skills needed. Trying to recruit the Amazon headquarters to Southern Virginia would have been less successful than the effort to lure them to Virginia Beach or Richmond. Our goal is to find businesses that fit and want to be in our region.

When you get a chance, thank your local businesses for what they do for our communities.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@ verizon.net.