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Midstate business spirits up after Trump win

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Small business owner Elena Macris, who operates Macris Chocolates at the West Shore Plaza in Lemoyne, addresses a group gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to recognize Small Business Month and the Shop Small in Pennsylvania initiative.
Small business owner Elena Macris, who operates Macris Chocolates at the West Shore Plaza in Lemoyne, addresses a group gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to recognize Small Business Month and the Shop Small in Pennsylvania initiative.

On the heels of Donald Trump's election to the White House, business leaders in Central Pennsylvania have expressed optimism that Trump's proposals to cut taxes and slash regulations will ultimately boost consumer confidence and spending.

That, in turn, should help sales at a lot of mom-and-pop businesses, including small retailers, that employ more than half of Pennsylvania's working population.

Scott Karns, the CEO and owner of Karns Quality Foods, a privately owned supermarket chain with eight stores in the Harrisburg area, said he's hopeful that Trump's campaign promise about tax cuts will happen.

Cuts often lead to additional spending in the food industry, he said.

Still, rising health care costs remain a huge concern for many business owners, including Karns. President-elect Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare in an effort to reduce health care costs, although he has said recently that he might preserve portions of the law.

If savings materialize on health care, it could mean increased hiring and investment by business. For consumers, it would mean more disposable income, which also benefits a lot of small businesses.

November declared small-business month

Heading into the lucrative holiday season, spirits were already high for many retailers. But state officials and local business leaders on Tuesday gave entrepreneurs another reason to expect a bright future. 

State lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf declared that November is now Small Business Month in Pennsylvania, which goes beyond the national one-day awareness campaign known as Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 26 this year.

Stacie Sheely, the owner of Polished Salon, Spa & Wellness in Lemoyne, attended an event at the state Capitol to recognize the month-long shop small initiative. She was glad to see the awareness campaign extended because one day is not enough, she said.

Her landlord at the West Shore Plaza, Smith Land & Improvement Corp., was one of the leading voices pushing for the extension.

"Small business is big in Central Pennsylvania," said Rick Jordan II, CEO of Smith Land. 

When one small business grows, it can catalyze growth for neighboring businesses, he said. The West Shore Plaza is home to a Karns store and the busiest state wine and spirits store in Central Pennsylvania.

The success of the plaza has helped Sheely grow business by 20 percent. Polished moved there in March, gaining additional space for her company.

Sen.-elect Mike Regan, one of the elected officials at the Capitol event, said a low tax and regulatory environment will only drive more small business growth in Pennsylvania.

Nearly one million small businesses in Pennsylvania employ more than 2.4 million people, according to state officials.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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