Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh company could be a national role model when it comes to spurring success among small businesses, which President Barack Obama's administration says will help get the U.S. economy back on track.
Raleigh Denim, a husband-and-wife operation based in downtown Raleigh, ships jeans, handmade with only American-made material, all over the world.
In September, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills used the company's workshop to launch an effort to help small businesses think globally.
"It was a chance for this company to grow with the help of the Small Business Administration, Mills said Monday in an interview with WRAL News in Washington D.C. "It's another example of how some kinds of manufacturing are coming back to this country."
Manufacturing job numbers have actually grown for the past two years, Mills says, and more are being created in the United States than ever before.
"It's in small companies that, very often, we are able to help," Mills said. "That's how we're going to keep America competitive and build this economy that's built to last."
Monday at the White House, Obama talked about creating jobs by helping small business with tax breaks.
The proposed legislation, in part, calls for a 10 percent income tax credit to entrepreneurs who hire new workers and raise their existing employees' wages.
The Obama administration says 170,000 firms in North Carolina would be eligible for the proposed tax cut.
The president is calling on Congress to pass new tax cuts for small businesses, but Mills said he's not waiting for Congress to act.
"We are doing a whole set of things, particularly in North Carolina, that allow small businesses to prosper," she said.
Mills says that last year was a record year for lending from the Small Business Administration in North Carolina, and so far this fiscal year, the SBA has delivered more than $385 million through more than 600 loans in the state.
She says her agency is also working with private investment groups to raise capital, with no cost to taxpayers.
"The big challenge, however, is getting people to really pull the trigger," said Harvey Schmitt, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
He says businesses are interested in moving to the Triangle or expanding, yet they are apprehensive because of the uncertainty in Washington.
The good news, he says, is that the chamber has seen a pickup in the number of small-business owners looking in Wake County.
Last year, the chamber had 19 visits from interested businesses. Already this year, there have been 23.
"We're seeing a lot of success with existing industry," Schmitt said. "We're just not seeing a lot of companies relocating into the market, like we have in the past."
That, Schmitt says, could happen after the election.
"I think people are waiting for some certainty about what the future is going to bring – whatever that might be," he said.
Schmitt says that, because Wake County is an attractive market, people are moving to the area looking for jobs.
Even though, there was an increase of 11,500 new jobs last year in the county, he says, at the same time, 9,700 new people moved into the workforce.
"So, the impact on the unemployment rate, even though we had a big pickup in job creation, really didn't evidence itself," Schmitt said. "That's another challenge we've got, because we're an attractive market."