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Local business owners get national audience

A handful of small-business owners from across the state of Washington and North Idaho gained a national audience in Spokane on Wednesday to voice their concerns about federal regulatory practices.

Peter Sorum, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s acting national ombudsman, was joined by representatives from Idaho state government, the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies at a meeting hosted by the SBA.

This is Sorum’s first stop in Spokane in his two years as national ombudsman. The visit is part of his annual tour of the SBA’s 10 regions. His aim is to attempt to solve problems small-business owners encounter with federal regulation, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive or unfair fines, and confusing paperwork.

“We have moved from a ‘got you’ attitude to a ‘help you’ attitude,” Sorum said. “You shouldn’t have to be afraid to come tell me or come tell anyone else.”

Concerns were raised at Wednesday’s meeting by The General Store in Spokane, regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Bill’s Auto Parts in Spokane, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Ponderay Newsprint Company in Usk, Wash., about the Department of the Interior.

Although the panel was unable to provide immediate help for the businesses, Sorum said he would look into the complaints.

“What we promise each and every small business that contacts us is an answer,” Sorum said.


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