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Minority franchise owner: Tax reform will allow Pittsburgh small businesses to grow, thrive

| Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
President Trump makes remarks after touring H&K Equipment in North Fayette on Jan. 18, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
President Trump makes remarks after touring H&K Equipment in North Fayette on Jan. 18, 2018.

I was fortunate to attend President Trump's recent event in Pittsburgh where he discussed the newly signed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As a minority small-business owner proudly in business with my family in the Pittsburgh area and across the state, I am reassured that the president and Congress kept their word and delivered on long-overdue tax reform.

For over three decades, small-business owners across the United States have operated with one hand tied behind our backs. We have been forced to pay excessively high taxes — much higher than our larger competitors — stripping us of important resources and hindering our ability to grow. But thanks to the administration's pro-growth agenda, relief is finally on the way.

Under the tax-reform bill, small businesses, which represent 98.2 percent of all Pennsylvania businesses, saw their tax rate go from a staggering 39.6 percent to 25 percent, and larger firms will see their tax rates drop from 35 percent to 20 percent. These cuts are historic and we are already seeing electrifying business optimism. According to Americans for Tax Reform, more than 160 companies across the country are giving their employees pay raises, bonuses and even 401(k) increases, and are making new plans to expand because of tax reform.

Many small businesses are feeling confident, pledging to reinvest because of the new tax-reform law, including me. Using the resources that I will be saving and the opportunities the franchise business model provides, I now have the momentum and capital to open 12 new Sport Clips locations around Pennsylvania. And with an average of 10 employees per location, that means 120 new well-paid, stable jobs. And I can assure you that I am not the only franchise owner taking steps to improve our communities.

Few people understand the important role franchise businesses play in growing our national and local economies. Behind the well-known brand names are locally owned small businesses that have been expanding and growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. These businesses employ 27,000 people across Pennsylvania and 730,000 across the country. We are job creators and the real economic engines that drive our country forward year after year. And this tax-reform law is sure to ignite our economic power even further.

I found opening a franchise location was exactly what I needed to fulfill my entrepreneurial dreams — a predisposed customer base, a natural support community, flexible financing offerings and control over my own schedule. For a minority business owner, franchise businesses offer a wealth of opportunities, including on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities for minority employees. Tax reform has a profound impact on not only small-business owners and their growth potential, but on individuals and employees.

The cycle of growth is real, especially in the franchise sector, and I am evidence of that. With lower taxes and more money in our pockets, we will be able to expand locations, reinvest, buy new equipment, hire new employees and pay higher wages.

Hopefully, my fellow franchise owners and community members have also acknowledged this administration's commitment to jobs and the U.S. economy. Because without tax reform, America's businesses and workers would never be able to reach their full potential.

Al Rodriguez owns 16 Sport Clips barbershop franchises in the Pittsburgh region.

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