Small businesses are key to a diversified economy

I was pleased to be appointed to serve on a newly reformed Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and committee in the House of Delegates. Speaker Tim Miley specifically chose delegates for the committee who are either current or former owners of small businesses. Too often the people who talk about jobs and business have never had to be responsible for making a payroll or making tough business decisions. The committee hopes to change the framing of policies around small business and give small business the attention it deserves as the backbone of our economy.

Vi Nguyen, owner of Vivo Salon and Day Spa, is again hoping the Legislature will change licensing requirements to help small businesses in West Virginia.

Vi Nguyen, owner of Vivo Salon and Day Spa, is again hoping the
Legislature will change licensing requirements to help small businesses in West Virginia.

Several of my focuses last year were geared to small business, and I hope to do it again through this committee. Too often our laws and regulations at the state level are not common sense, and many licensing requirements fail to recognize the distance between Jefferson County and Kanawha County.

Vi at Vivo Salon and Day Spa pointed out to me the very difficult licensing requirements for nail technicians and the lack of reciprocity when licensed in other states. I also heard from barbers and stylists about the testing required for licensing, including the need for experienced people to travel to Charleston to take multiple tests. Requiring multiple trips to Charleston does not make sense for small business owners and their employees. This should change.

One hope I have for the committee is in shedding light on arbitrary barriers in the Hospitality and Tourism industry. Last year, I was able to twice advance the issue of changing the time for Sunday service of adult beverages in restaurants. Right now, no restaurant can serve a mimosa at brunch until 1 p.m. A visit to the Bavarian Inn at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday will reveal disappointed tourists rolling their eyes at “West Virginia” when they are told the reason why, no in fact, they cannot order a Bloody Mary. Likewise, Bloomery Distillery cannot even sell its limoncello to tourists on a Sunday because of antiquated blue laws.

As the committee and all of the leadership looks at how a diversified economy is built with small businesses and entrepreneurship, we must recognize that our greatest natural resources — our natural beauty, cultural and historical tourism — should be the basis of focused economic development. That means cutting through red tape and arbitrary laws.

— Stephen Skinner represents the 67th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates


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