Small Business Saturday Seeks Shoppers’ Attention Amid Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Small Business Saturday Seeks Shoppers’ Attention Amid Black Friday And Cyber Monday

By Terri Jo Neff |

With the National Retail Federation estimating that 2 million more people will do holiday shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, Arizona’s leading small-business association is reminding shoppers of the upside to reserving some of that money for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27.

Started by American Express as a post-Thanksgiving, pre-Cyber Monday marketing gimmick in 2010, Small Business Saturday is now officially co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 2019, Small Business Saturday shoppers at “mom and pop” type independent retailers and restaurants spent nearly $19.6 billion, which was topped last November at $19.8 billion despite ongoing pandemic challenges.   

Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development has reported that of $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remained in the local economy in the form of higher wages, re-spending, and an improved tax base.

“Dollars spent at small, locally owned businesses are not sent to some out-of-state corporate parent,” said Chad Heinrich, Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “Those dollars stay local and support the community.”

Earlier this month NFIB released the latest findings of its special COVID-19 polls showing 62 percent of small-business owners say their supply-chain disruptions are worse than three months ago. And 90 percent of respondents expect the problem to continue for the next five months, if not longer.

Equally troubling, according to Heinrich, is that NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends report found the percentage of small-business owners expecting better business conditions in the coming months has fallen to its lowest level since November 2012.

That is why getting a large share of the nation’s estimated 158.3 million holiday shoppers to shop local small businesses is important, especially in Arizona where so many businesses continue to struggle post-pandemic.

“Shopping at small businesses helps the Arizona economy,” said Heinrich. “This is a tough time for our mom-and-pop businesses. If Arizonans focus on shopping local, this could be a jolly holiday season for all.” 

According to American Express, last year’s Small Business Saturday exceeded expectations despite the pandemic due to small businesses pivoting to online sales and utilizing non-traditional advertising such as social media to stay connected with customers.

“In addition, small business owners rolled out a variety of giveaways and special offerings to consumers, a smart strategy as 43% of consumers reported that they took advantage of special offers or promotions from small businesses on the day,” AMEX reports.

Arizona Among States Worried Banking Industry Being Used As Pawn Against Law-Abiding Energy Companies

Arizona Among States Worried Banking Industry Being Used As Pawn Against Law-Abiding Energy Companies

By Terri Jo Neff |

A partisan effort to make it harder for fossil fuel-based energy companies to obtain bank financing and banking services prompted a warning letter to the U.S. banking industry on Nov. 22 from the top financial officers of several states, including Arizona.

“Denying banking services to traditional, reliable energy production industries simply to advance radical, socialist policies from the White House, is both immoral and goes against the very free market principles that our country was founded upon,” said Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee in announcing the letter. “In this case, they are picking the energy industry as the losers and that goes against the free marketplace in America.”

Yee joined the financial officers of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in signing the letter, cautioning the banking industry of potential consequences for allowing itself to be used as a political pawn against law-abiding companies in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.

According to the letter, the Biden Administration is “pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to limit, encumber, or outright refuse financing for traditional energy production companies.” The White House is also supporting an end to American financial support for traditional energy production projects in developing countries around the world, “likely ceding future development and exploration to Chinese interests,” the letter states.

“We believe, as almost all Americans do, that the free market should remain free and not be manipulated to advance social agendas,” the letter states. “We are not asking for special treatment of the fossil fuel industries. To the contrary, we simply want financial institutions to assess fossil fuel businesses as other legal businesses – without prejudice or preference.”

The letter also says the states have a compelling government interest “to select financial institutions that are not engaged in tactics to harm the very people whose money they are handling.”

Each state will undertake its own actions to counter the “undue pressure” being placed on the banking industry, according to the letter. Yee has not outlined what steps her office might take if financial institutions which do business with the state engage in efforts to deny services to the energy industry.

Job Creators Network Says Biden Trying To Turn Business Owners Into Health Police

Job Creators Network Says Biden Trying To Turn Business Owners Into Health Police

By Terri Jo Neff |

Yet another business advocacy group is challenging President Joe Biden’s continued calls for employers to implement COVID-19 vaccination mandates in the face of constitutional challenges.

“This mandate is not a small ask of America’s employers. Businesses are just recovering from the pandemic. They are dealing with the highest inflation in over 30 years, and they are struggling to deal with a supply chain and labor shortage crisis,” Alfredo Ortiz of the Job Creators Network wrote to Biden. “Now is the worst time to deputize them as the health police.”

The Job Creators Network is a petitioner in one of the federal court challenges to OSHA’s vaccination mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. That case and others federal challenges to Biden’s mandates are being transferred by order of the U.S. Supreme Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit so all such cases can be heard in one court.  

Such lawsuits should not be necessary, Ortiz argues, but even more concerning is the fact White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly stated last week that “nothing has changed” with the mandate timelines in the face of recent court orders.

The result, according to Ortiz, is that the Biden Administration is putting small business job creators in an “untenable position” of following the White House directives or following the court rulings.

“Despite two recent federal court rulings staying the employer vaccine mandate, the White House continues to willfully ignore the judiciary and call on businesses to continue implementing the rule by January 4, 2022, as if these judicial decisions never occurred,” Ortiz wrote to Biden. “We expect the White House to respect and listen to the judiciary rather than barnstorming ahead and bullying businesses to comply with this rule whose legal fate is in serious jeopardy.”

Small business owners in every community across America are caught in the middle and paying the price, Ortiz wrote.   

“This conflicting guidance is unfair to small businesses simply trying to get their businesses back to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “By following the White House guidance, they are incurring expenses and time-consuming setup costs.”

Opposition Grows To Biden’s Comptroller Of Currency Nominee Who Wants Radical Reform Of Banking System

Opposition Grows To Biden’s Comptroller Of Currency Nominee Who Wants Radical Reform Of Banking System

By Terri Jo Neff |

A letter sent last week to President Joe Biden by Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee and the top financial officers of 17 other states is drawing attention to the growing bipartisan opposition to Biden’s nominee for Comptroller of the Currency. 

“Biden wants Saule Omarova in charge of our banking system, who studied in Moscow under a Communist regime and prefers the centralized banking system of the Soviet Union to America’s own free market system,” Yee said Friday. “The American people deserve better.”

The Office of Comptroller of Currency is an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury responsible for chartering, regulating, and supervising all national banks and thrift institutions, as well as federally licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States.

Omarova, a 55-year-old professor at Cornell Law School, was formally nominated by Biden in September to head the office, subject to Senate confirmation. Since then, a ground swell of opposition has developed Omarova’s her self-described  “radical reform” ideas.

“Her public policy positions are really, really problematic if you want a free-market banking system,” says Rob Nichols, president of the 1,100-member American Bankers Association. “It is a blueprint for nationalization.”

Much of the concern with Omarova’s nomination stems from her documented positions which appear to run counter to the objectives of the Comptroller of Currency.  Those objectives include ensuring the safety and soundness of the nation’s banking system, ensuring fair and equal access to financial services to all Americans, and enforcing those anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism finance laws which apply to national banks and federally licensed branches and agencies of international banks.

As recently as February, Omarova wrote of her support for what she described as an “overtly radical reform” of the banking system in the United States. Such reform -which Omarova said would “effectively end banking as we know it”- could result in American’s deposit accounts bring held by the Federal Reserve Bank instead of in private banks.  

The growing scrutiny of Omarova’s nomination will soon come to a head when the U.S. Senate Banking Committee decides whether to advance her nomination to the full Senate. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is a ranking member of the committee and a skeptic of Omarova’s nomination.

“In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more radical choice for any regulatory spot in our federal government. I know that is a very sweeping statement to make. I think I can stand by it,” Toomey said back in October, adding that Omarova “clearly has an aversion to anything like free market capitalism..”

Omarova’s supporters are quick to allege it is her ethnicity and gender -not her policy positions- prompting the pushback.  But Republicans are not the only ones expressing concern. On Nov. 9, Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana went public with his hesitancy over Omarova’s nomination. 

“Some of Ms. Omarova’s past statements about the role of government in the financial system raise real concerns about her ability to impartially serve at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and I’m looking forward to meeting with her to discuss them,” Tester said.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is also a member of the Senate Banking Committee. She has not publicly expressed an opinion on the nomination.

America’s banking system, however, is not the only economic system Omarova believes could be reformed or even replaced. She has openly supported a proposed National Investment Authority which would be responsible for “devising, financing, and executing a long-term national strategy of economic development and reconstruction.”

The result, according to Yee and the other states’ financial leaders, would give the Federal Reserve systematic control of prices for fuel, food, raw materials, metals, natural resources, home prices, and wages.

“I join my fellow financial leaders from across the country with deep concern that Ms. Omarova’s radical, socialist views would lead to her abusing her supervisory power as Comptroller to expand political control over the private banking sector and disrupt both Arizona’s and the nation’s economy,” Yee stated Nov. 12 in a separate letter.

However, the White House has doubled down on the nomination in a statement which notes Biden continues to “strongly support” Omarova. The statement refers to the nominee being “eminently qualified” for the position. 

A biography shows Omarova was born into a Muslim family which lived in what was then the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. She was awarded the Lenin Award at Moscow State University before moving in 1991 to the United States where she completed her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Omarova holds a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. She served as a special advisors for President George W. Bush’s Department of the Treasury under the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

In addition to Arizona, the financial officers who signed the Nov. 12 letter to Biden represent the following states: Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky,

Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation was also a signee.  

Since May, the acting Comptroller of the Currency has been Michael J. Hsu. He is overseeing 3,500 employees based in the main Washington D.C. office as well as district offices in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and New York City.

Arizona Projected To Add More Than 700,000 Jobs By 2030

Arizona Projected To Add More Than 700,000 Jobs By 2030

Over 700,000 jobs are expected to be created in Arizona in the next decade, according to a new report from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

According to the OEO report, Arizona employment is projected to increase from 3,030,216 jobs in 2020 to 3,751,905 jobs in 2030. This translates to growth of 721,689 jobs, or 2.2 percent annualized growth.

Arizona’s job growth rate will beat out—by more than 3 times—the expected overall U.S. growth rate over the same period. U.S. employment is projected to grow by 0.7 percent annually from 2020, compared to 2.2 percent in Arizona.

The largest job gains are anticipated in the Education and Health Services (23,906 jobs annually) and Professional and Business Services sector. The Education and Health Services and Construction sectors are expected to see the fastest job growth rates at 3.2 percent and 2.7 percent annualized growth respectively. The report predicts job growth in all 15 counties and all sectors excluding government.

According to a recent story, Arizona is recovering jobs lost during the pandemic faster than most other states, with the third-fastest jobs recovery in the nation. This comes on top of forecast-beating revenue collections reported by JLBC, another sign of economic strength. In addition, personal income in Arizona rose last year at a rate faster than nearly any state in the country.

Over the previous decade, Arizona employment increased by 492,645 jobs, or 1.8 percent annual change, to 3,030,216 jobs in 2020 from 2,537,571 jobs in 2010.

Arizona is leading on economic and workforce development programs. Major companies including IntelTaiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Lucid Motors have selected Arizona to build and expand their operations. Arizona has emerged as the number one place for new semiconductor investments and was recently dubbed by Forbes as “U.S. Semiconductor Central.”

Business Group Calls For State Lawmakers’ Immediate Attention To Supreme Court Ruling

Business Group Calls For State Lawmakers’ Immediate Attention To Supreme Court Ruling

By Terri Jo Neff |

Earlier this month the Arizona Supreme Court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that parts of 4 of the 11 budget bills signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey this summer are unconstitutional on procedural grounds. The reaction from business owners and community leaders was swift, with many left wondering when and how lawmakers will address the dozens of provisions dropped from those budget bills.

Among those provisions was a prohibition on a county, city, or town from issuing COVID-19 ordinances that impact private businesses, schools, churches, or other private entities, including mask mandates. Other prohibitions would have kept K-12 schools from requiring vaccines with an emergency use authorization for in-person attendance and ensured public universities and community colleges could not mandate COVID vaccines and vaccine passports.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) describes the Justices’ recent opinion as “devastating” and “a big blow to the people of Arizona.” The organization has drawn attention to the uncertainty and frustration across Arizona at a time when the pandemic impacts are still being felt in the state’s economy, and as individual freedoms are under attack.

As a result, the AFEC is leading the call for the Arizona Legislature and the Governor to immediately address the critical reforms that the Supreme Court struck down.

“They must exhaust every option possible, including special session, to protect Arizonans from more COVID mandates and the bigoted teachings of Critical Race Theory,” according to AFEC. “But make no mistake, while this ruling is devastating, it will not stop the battle over these critical issues. There’s just too much at stake. Because if the uncertainty and frustration caused by these issues are allowed to continue, it would be the most devastating news of all.”