Small Businesses Urge Congress to Address Labor Shortages, Supply Chain Problems


President Joe Biden delivers remarks on solutions to transportation supply chain bottlenecks from the East Room of the White House on October 13. A House committee heard from small businesses on the issue on Wednesday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger / UPI | License photo

WASHINGTON, October 20 (UPI) – Executives representing small businesses, from building homes to making candy, told a House small business subcommittee on Wednesday that supply chain disruptions and labor shortages hamper their growth efforts.

John C. Fowke, owner of a Florida homebuilder, said he ordered windows last November, but they didn’t arrive until June, delaying next steps on his plans. of construction.

“Everyone who works in this industry is in dire need of additional manpower,” said Fowke, who testified on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders. “We have to do something about the job situation that will help us with the supply chain.”

Chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigation and Regulation Dean Phillips, D-Minn., Said small businesses have limited inventory compared to large businesses, which means that ‘they cannot afford to wait months for supplies. Higher shipping costs during the pandemic also hurt small businesses.

Christine Lahtinen, president of Plymouth, Michigan-based Maud Borup Inc., said her century-old candy company had 200 employees, about 100 fewer than she needed.

“My company is facing a serious shortage of workers,” Lahtinen said. “Since December 2020, we have instituted a 36% hourly wage increase, and we are still struggling to recruit workers. ”

Members of the Republican and Democratic subcommittee agreed that labor shortages are contributing to supply chain disruptions, but they disagreed on government measures that would encourage more people to join. the work market.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Suggested the government should stop putting money into the economy, saying it leads to inflation. Instead, he proposed to Congress to pass his legislation to help people get technical training in vocational colleges.

“I am in favor of bridging wages, whatever we have to do to get people back to work. It is a lot more compassionate than having people dependent on the government,” Hagedorn said.

But Phillips said the government should find solutions to make the supply chain more resilient and “look to existing measures that we can use to help small businesses address supply chain and business issues. trade”.

The Biden administration launched the Supply Chain Disruption Task Force in June to strengthen domestic supply chains. The administration also announced commitments this month to move product faster by extending the hours of operation at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., Which handle 40 percent of containers entering the United States.

Phillips added that the Small Business Administration’s state trade expansion program could help entrepreneurs market and sell their products overseas, which could boost the U.S. economy.

Kevin Loe, director of customer engagement at Redi-Rock International, a Michigan-based retaining wall manufacturer, said the company has grown from a few export sales to a global industry leader thanks to STEP .

“STEP has been a catalyst for us to invest our time and resources in international trade,” said Loe. “These exports have given us the freedom to get good paying jobs and to work hard, to diversify our sales, to increase our market share.”

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