Did you know that there are 5.7 million businesses in the United States? Now imagine what would happen if just 10 percent of those businesses hired just one person. Just one new hire by just 10 percent of the country's businesses would take 570,000 off the unemployment rolls and back on to the tax-paying rolls.
It's not a new idea. Many of the business and community leaders in our region and around the nation have long said the road to recovery begins with America's small businesses. Rather than competing with every other city or county for a new 500 job plant, let's find ways to encourage our existing businesses to expand and grow their workforce.
That's why the Marietta Area Chamber initiated the Pioneering Spirit Award to recognize and help a small business get to the next level of success. This river valley has a spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity that creates jobs, opens new markets and increases opportunities. We are looking for the next Forma Scientific, which began as a small local enterprise and is now one of the area's largest employers, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and has spawned several other companies in the temperature control industry.
I recently came across another idea to help create jobs. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, retiree Gene Epstein is offering a unique incentive to encourage small businesses to hire just one more employee.
A self-proclaimed insomniac, Epstein awoke one night with an idea to jump-start our economy. "What if we convinced small businesses to hire just one new employee?" Epstein said during an interview with a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. He shared his plan with a local news station, which led to an ABC World News segment. "Businesses have created what we are in the United States," Epstein told the national TV audience of his offer to spend up to $250,000 paying it forward. "Why can't they be the salvation for what we are in the United States?"
So he formed a non-profit organization that pledges to donate $1,000 to a charity if just one person is hired for a minimum of six months. From their website www.hirejustone.org comes this explanation of how an "investment in just one new employee starts a cycle that reverberates throughout the entire economy.
That newly employed person comes off the unemployment rolls, and instead of relying on government compensation that they can barely live on, they now have a meaningful job. This reduces the stress of being unemployed, and in turn, your other employees feel more secure in their jobs.
Next, the cycle of spending starts. The new employee starts spending his/her income on goods and services that they could not afford when they were unemployed. The other employees start spending their 'pent up' savings, knowing that their employer is now expanding and not laying people off. This reduces stress for all your employees and consequently will make them more productive.
So you, as a small business owner/operator, will wind up being the beneficiary of a more productive workforce, and as other businesses follow suit, the demand for your goods and services will increase, eventually causing you to hire even more employees.
When the markets see that the employment figures of small businesses are increasing, they will react positively, causing stocks and investment values to grow. That in turn increases individuals' values of pensions and retirement funds and they will start to spend, creating the need for even more jobs.
Small and large businesses that have been sitting on cash will start to use that to expand their business."
Interested in learning more about Gene Epstein and the Hire Just One campaign, check out the website: www.hirejustone.org.
Wishing you a joyous holiday and a successful 2011!
Charlotte Keim, CCEO-AP, is president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, The Riverview Building, 100 Front St., Suite 200, Marietta. Chamber Viewpoint appears every other Monday on Opinion.