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SENATOR DAVID LONGSmall businesses have given life to Main Street, grown communities and fueled the U.S. economy for more than two centuries. The nation's 27.5 million small businesses make up nearly half the U.S. GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs.

The key to our future economic growth and success lies with small businesses. In no place is this more evident than in Indiana, where a combination of low taxes, fiscal responsibility and resilient business owners have helped us weather the recession better than most of our neighbors.

It is truly a great time to start or grow a business in Indiana.
Since July 2009, the low point of employment, Indiana has added 140,400 private sector jobs, significantly outpacing the national rate of growth. According to the Small Business Administration, about half of these jobs are tied to Hoosier small business.

This year the General Assembly continued to work on behalf of small business owners. We passed a law to phase out Indiana's inheritance tax, enabling more Hoosiers to pass on their business to a family member without leaving behind considerable tax burdens. Lawmakers also passed a new law allowing businesses to receive property tax exemptions on their information technology equipment in an effort to encourage high-tech start-ups to invest in our state.
In 2011, we reduced the state's corporate income tax by nearly 25 percent. Indiana now ranks among the 10 best tax environments in the U.S and the best in the Midwest, according to the Tax Foundation.

These low-tax, pro-growth policies have helped our state add more than 37,500 private-sector jobs since the start of this year, the sixth most in the nation.
Indiana is also one of the few state governments in the country operating with a surplus, allowing us to continue our focus on job creation and economic development at a time when other states are struggling to fund the most basic government services.

Here are some other tools our state offers to support small businesses:
•The Toolbox Guide to Development Funds lists all of the tax programs, incentives, loans and grants available in Indiana.

•The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offers the Young Entrepreneur Program to help recent college grads turn their innovative ideas into real business ventures.

•The Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) has partnered with Google to help small businesses transition to the web and format their business for the 21st century. This new online tool helps you build a website for free and trains you on how to maintain your site.

•The ISBDC hosts a number of small business workshops in cities all across the state.

As we all know, jobs and economic development remain the most important issues for Hoosiers today. With small businesses acting as the backbone for successful economic growth — not only nationwide but also in Indiana — we must continue to support our local employers.

During the 2013 session, state lawmakers will once again be faced with the daunting task of creating a balanced budget while protecting Hoosier taxpayers and promoting economic growth. I challenge both my Senate and House colleagues to renew their commitments to financial responsibility and outside-of-the-box thinking to make Indiana a more attractive place for entrepreneurs to locate and expand.

And, I share a similar challenge with all Hoosiers: Remember to support local ventures. Visit those local diners and dives, downtown stores and shops, family-owned venues and vendors. Our hometown employers might just hold the key to ensuring Indiana keeps its place as a national leader in jobs and economic growth.


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