Closings reveal awful regulatory climate

Luke Londo

A Jan. 23 North Wind editorial said of local businesses, “people will come, especially when the quality is good.” While this may be generally true, it doesn’t explain a nine-day stretch in January marred by closures of some of Marquette’s most popular businesses.

Luke Londo
Luke Londo

It’s important to note the closures happened for a myriad of reasons, but are indicative of a recovery that has struggled to materialize in our local community.

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, JCPenney announced the coming closures of 33 under-performing stores as a cost-cutting measure.

On Friday, Jan. 17, Walker Furniture revealed they were liquidating and shutting their doors, after being part of the Upper Peninsula community for more than 130 years.

Three days later, Farmer Q’s indicated they were closing after eight years. They said it’s “bittersweet to be closing a profitable business in this economy,” acknowledging current economic limitations.

Finally, on Friday Jan. 24, after 37 years as a local staple, Bonanza announced they would be closing. Owner Mitch Lazaren cites “wage increases, rising food costs, increased taxes and a changing economy as reasons for the closure” in an interview with TV 6, before adding that he hadn’t broken even in years.

The U.P. has long enjoyed insulation from the effects of bureaucratic and regulatory regimes in our nation’s capital, but many small businesses have just recently felt Washington’s icy grip.

Whether or not this influenced the closure of the aforementioned businesses is uncertain, but it certainly couldn’t have helped.

Burdensome regulation isn’t strictly a partisan invention. However, the number of “significant federal rules” costing over $100 million has grown precipitously under President Obama. The cost of compliance shifts to local businesses, and many aren’t in a position to comply.

Recently, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office announced the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs will be lost due to the Affordable Care Act, in addition to the businesses that have shuttered because of an inability to provide medical coverage, or reduced employees’ hours to part-time so they didn’t need to.

Those looking for answers should turn from our nation’s capital in Washington to our state capital in Lansing.

For every new regulation added since 2010, the government has cut 13, giving local businesses greater freedom. Additionally, Gov. Snyder has reduced the tax rate for small businesses, and repealed the Michigan Business Tax, which exacerbated the great recession in Michigan.

We’ve come a long way since 14.2 percent unemployment, but as last month’s closures reveal, we’re not quite there yet. As the government in Lansing seems to understand Michigan’s problems better than Washington, let’s hope the worst in Marquette is over.