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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:06:10 22:34:28

Attorney Barbara Grimaud, left, Melissa Scott of Stonehouse Investments, both of Tunkhannock, and Mayor Susan Burgess from Wyalusing listen to information provided by Congressman Tom Marino and others on Monday concerning the challenges facing women who operate small businesses Pennsylvania.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:06:10 22:07:49

STAFF PHOTOS/C.J. MARSHALL President of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce Gina Suydam welcomes Congressman Tom Marino and his deputy chief of staff David Weber to the Women in Small Business Round Table discussion on Monday.

Local business women expressed concerns about health care, infrastructure, high speed internet access and other issues to Congressman Tom Marino on Monday during a Women in Small Business Roundtable in Tunkhannock.

The discussion was a joint effort organized by Marino’s office, Women in Small Business, and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.

Michelle Christian of the Small Business Administraation said a popular misconception with the SBA is the organization primarily lends money to small businesses.

What they do, she said, is arrange the loans through various providers and provide information on various aspects of business operations.

As one example, Christian said the SBA can help a business draft a disaster plan.

Many businesses don’t have such plans in place, she said, and are woefully unprepared in the event they are damaged from a flood or a bad storm.

It was a point also echoed by Curt Coccodrilli, state director for the USDA Rural Development office, who also talked about available small business loan programs for women.

Local businesswoman and Wyalusing Mayor Susan Burgess said she was interested in developing and keeping small businesses in the area.

Marino said that one of the problems is many new businesses are being set up via government financing, but are not receiving enough private investments to help them thrive on their own.

What has to be done is find ways to make such industries more attractive to private investors, he said.

Laura Wulff, who owns Just One More Page Books in Tunkhannock, said she has been concerned because of the empty stores in the downtown. If the stores remain vacant, she explained, it means less foot traffic, which in turn means fewer sales.

Wulff also expressed concerns about health care - particularly when a business has to supply it to its employees.

Marino said there is a movement in Congress to overturn Obamacare - which has drawn criticism from various quarters since it was approved several years ago during President Obama’s tenure. He said the requirement taxing those who do not have insurance has been rescinded.

Another concern expressed was the way businesses are being stifled by over-regulation from the government.

Marino said that the Trump administration has been “cutting regulations with a chain saw.”

Under the Obama administration, he said, more than 100,000 pages of regulations were put into effect. Now Trump is working to remove those regulations to help promote business.

The congressman also explained that the Trump administration has recently released a $1.2 trillion package, aimed at improving infrastructure across the nation. The package includes about $50 billion to help bring high speed internet access to certain rural areas.

Burgess found the news encouraging, saying that there are facilities in Bradford County hurting because they cannot get high speed internet access.

In the matter of health care, Marino said his committee is working on a problem caused by certain pharmaceutical companies. When a company develops a drug, it is usually granted an exclusive patent for about 10 years. The company must then sell the formula to a generic company, allowing it to produce the drug at less cost, he said.

However, many pharmaceutical companies are using loopholes to keep their formulas for themselves, Marino said. His committee is working on a bill which, if approved, would fine companies who fail to sell their formulas to other drug companies once the patents have expired.

Wyoming County Chamber President Gina Suydam, said the forum was valuable in opening the door for local women to see what small business loans are available through the SBA and USDA and how to work through the application process.