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Central Ohio Entrepreneurs See Good And Bad In Second Obama Term

Central Ohio small businesses see positives and negatives for their future as President Obama is inaugurated for a second term. WOSU examined two companies in 2011 and now both have expanded, yet one remains wary about government regulations and their effects on doing business. Owner of German Autowerks on the West side, John Clancy says his auto repair business has profited over the past couple of years. But not without some growing pains. Some days he works more on vehicles because he does not have enough employees. Two of them quit in December for various reasons; leaving him with three full-timers.

Production’s picking up and employees have gone down, so it makes a lot more work for me.

Two years ago Clancy and his team would service up to 40 cars a month, now it’s sometimes as many as 75. Clancy started his company four years ago in the middle of a deep recession. When I first visited him 2 years ago he was searching for a small business loan. “It seems that the restrictions that are put on available funds currently, there are so many hurdles that being a small business owner I almost wanted to give up and choose to make it in other directions," says Clancy. Since then, Clancy did get a line of credit from the Small Business Administration. “We purchased quite a bit of equipment. Obviously growth demanded more equipment, so it was not a matter of choice; for me, it’s a matter of necessity," says Clancy. Clancy should be able to get help paying for the $20,000 in equipment he purchased through The Taxpayer Relief Act passed at the end of 2012. It includes several small business incentives like an extension of a tax credit to purchase new equipment. He says while the economy continues to improve he worries less about the actions of elected officials. “It’s really hard to put a lot of faith in what goes on and say yes absolutely that’s the way it’s going to be. So when there’s talk of change of this or that it’s often ignored or disregarded, until you finally see some results," Clancy adds. Because his business is so small, Clancy won’t be required to offer health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care changes though are on the mind of Doug Davidson, owner of Internet security firm Jacadis.

You know we’re expert at security and privacy regulations, and security privacy technologies, but there are things in health care for instance that I don’t know all the details as a small business owner, and so I expect that to become more complicated.

Davidson says his 13 year old firm helps companies secure Internet data. Davidson says many of the companies he works with that have up to 1,000 employees don’t understand all of the laws. He adds uncertainty in federal government rules that he complained about 2 years ago remains on many levels. “The reality is that uncertainty suppresses spending, suppresses risk taking. When I add regulatory activity in it, this administration has created more regulation than administrations prior to it," says Davidson. Associate Professor of Economics at Ohio State University, William Dupor disagrees but, he says that some things have changed over the past 20 years. “I don’t think there’s been a big change in the regulatory structure in the U.S. economy over all. Now when you have new industries like the Internet like some more information technology that gets used in the Health care industry, there’s going to be more regulations," says Dupor. To make their businesses competitive both auto repair shop owner, John Clancy and Internet security firm owner, Doug Davidson agree they have to adjust their strategies to stay in business.

We’ve found certainty in terms of what we can control, and we’ve done a much better job of that (with) the partnerships we’ve created, some of the technology we’ve brought.

“Now I’ve gotten myself into a cycle where I just know that hard work, and perseverance and customer service all of those things come into play for growth," says Clancy. Both Clancy and Davidson also add that customer confidence will help them overcome any obstacles posed by government regulations.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.