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It has been nearly 10 months since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. The full benefits have not been fully realized yet, but the initial results are promising. The economy is expanding at its second-fastest pace in 13 years, and 1.7 million jobs have been added since Congress passed the historic tax reform legislation. Workers saw their disposable incomes grow 3.5 percent over the last year, helping families keep more of their hard-earned money. And, importantly, it has provided certainty for the small business community and lowered employers’ tax burden so they can expand their businesses, create jobs and keep money in their pockets.

The National Federation of Independent Business recently released survey results showing that the majority of small businesses are optimistic about the effects of tax reform. Specifically, it found that 87 percent of member businesses believe the new tax law will have a positive effect on the economy, 76 percent believe it will positively affect business and 70 percent of owners anticipate it will positively affect their personal tax situation. I’ve always had a strong focus on helping small businesses – that was an especially important part for me when I was working on the tax reform legislation – so I am happy to see these positive findings.

In early October, I attended a hearing with my fellow members of the Senate Small Business Committee to examine the impact of the tax reform law. At the hearing, we heard from experts about an economic development tool included in the tax reform bill called opportunity zones. The opportunity zone program allows states to designate struggling communities as opportunity zones and is designed to spur economic growth in these areas. In Wyoming, we have 25 opportunity zones.

One expert at the hearing, John Lettieri, the president and CEO of a research and advocacy organization called the Economic Innovation Group, discussed how these opportunity zones were designed to benefit small businesses. He said the main purpose was “to drive investment into operating businesses in underserved areas – particularly new ventures and existing small- to medium-sized businesses poised for growth.” Lettieri stressed that his hope for opportunity zones is that it will provide a lifeline to entrepreneurs in underserved and overlooked areas of our country. I am hopeful that opportunity zones will help revitalize some of our communities across Wyoming.

Small businesses serve as an engine of economic growth in our country, and I believe the tax reform law has a lot of positive components for small businesses – some we have already seen and some we will see in the coming years. I will continue my efforts to promote small businesses and look after their interests.