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If I Were Trump, Here’s What I’d Do for Business

If I Were Trump, Here’s What I’d Do for Business

Donald Trump should take a long and hard look at access to capital, taxes, regulations, education and worker training. 

The presidential election was one of the most interesting in recent history and perhaps one of the most polarizing of all time.

The election ignited passion on both sides. I’ll take passion over apathy any day. Healthy debate about the issues is a cornerstone of our great democracy, no matter who wins.

I’ve been asked by friends and colleagues what I would do to stimulate business growth had I been given the keys to the Oval Office.

Here are a few items that would help all businesses:

Greater Access to Capital for Small Businesses

The root word of capitalism is, of course, capital. So, it makes sense to make it easier for small businesses to obtain capital to aid in business expansion.

It’s important lenders behave responsibly and it helps to have some level of consumer protection in place. But at the same time we need to make sure the loans that grease the engine of capitalism are still obtainable.

Step one of the Cottrell Admin. would be taking an objective look at current regulations to ensure a balance between consumer protection and access to small business loans.

Simplified, Consistent Tax Codes

Business tax rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the world. The effective rate – taking into account various deductions – is 27.9%. That’s second only to New Zealand among the 34 OECD nations and 15 of 189 among all nations. We would foster a more competitive business climate with a lower rate.

But, perhaps more important than the actual rate is consistency from the government in how taxes and regulations are applied from one year to the next. 

Investment is needed in capital equipment and R&D across a broad spectrum of businesses. But Schedule 179 and other depreciation rules seem to be moving targets from year-to-year.

The same holds true for R&D credits. Our accountants don’t know from one year to the next how rules for depreciation will be applied. What is a deduction last year might not be a deduction today.

This is a challenge for any business that invests heavily in capital equipment and R&D. The fear of the unknown can deter investing in new technology or equipment. This hurts the business and suppliers who miss out on a sale.

The current tax code is riddled with similar examples. Consistency from one year to the next allows businesses to better plan their resources, make capital acquisitions and understand the tax implications.

A simplified longer-term commitment from taxing authorities would go a long way toward creating stability in capital equipment and R&D investments.

Displaced Workers Need Re-Training

President-Elect Trump’s announcement that Carrier was keeping 1,000 jobs here was a nice win for the U.S., Indiana and affected workers.

But this is more the exception than the rule. For all of candidate Trump’s promises to bring back manufacturing jobs, some of them simply aren’t coming back.

While the exodus of many manufacturing jobs can be traced to international trade deals, many simply vanished because of robots, automated material handling systems and overall greater efficiencies in manufacturing.

Frankly, Americans are manufacturing more than ever before, we’re simply more efficient and consequently can do more with less manpower.

Workers who have been displaced need retraining in burgeoning industries such as the high-tech and health-care sectors, where job opportunities often go unfilled.

Providing federally funded job re-training programs for displaced employees and tax credits for companies that hire them is a win-win-win for people, companies and communities.

More Students Need STEM Training

My advice to college students: science, technology, engineering and math. Repeat over and over again. Then pick one and study hard. The majority of good jobs in the coming generation will predominantly revolve around STEM and we need to point as many people in this direction as possible.

We also need to recognize technology is advancing rapidly. It is difficult to keep pace. Imagine the changes a class of 2006 information-technology graduate has seen in the past 10 years.  

Now, imagine as an employer keeping your team up to speed and investing in their continuing education, only to see the best and the brightest cherry-picked away. In essence, you just paid for your competitor’s talent pool.

I support a system where businesses receive tax credits for workers’ continuing education. That way, more companies will invest in ongoing education, as a society we will have a much more educated workforce and risk of training investment will be mitigated.

Only time will tell how the Trump Admin. affects the overall economy. But, as a business owner, I hope he takes a long and hard look at access to capital, taxes, regulations, education and worker training.

Steve Cottrell is CEO of Authenticom/DealerVault, a data-services provider. The company can be reached at

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