Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SBA Administrator Drops by River City during U.S. Tour; Business Owners Point out Problems They Face in Keeping Quality Workers from Going to Larger Companies

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SBA Administrator Drops by River City during U.S. Tour; Business Owners Point out Problems They Face in Keeping Quality Workers from Going to Larger Companies

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTOPHER CALNAN, The Times-Union

The head of U.S. Small Business Administration said Monday Jacksonville business people are dealing with the same issues as business owners in other parts of the country. And employee health insurance benefits remains the biggest problem they all face.

"The things you experience . . . are the things that are being experienced by millions of small companies," SBA Administrator Hector Barreto told 10 small business owners during a roundtable discussion at the University of North Florida.

"Health care is probably the fastest growing problem. It's not fair. If small businesses contribute everything we know they contribute [to the economy], why can't they have the same access to health care as big business?"

Jacksonville was Barreto's fifth stop in a series of fact-finding visits to the SBA's 11 regions. Following the roundtable, he was the keynote speaker at a UNF luncheon for about 300 people.

Barreto also toured Adpen Laboratories Inc., a 15-year-old Jacksonville company that tests chemicals in food and water. The 18-employee business built a $500,000 building in the Eastpark Industrial Park with a loan guaranteed by the SBA in 1994.

"They've been a great success," Barreto said, "but we want to make sure we do that over and over again."

During the roundtable, business owners thanked Barreto for SBA's work, but pointed out the problems they face in retaining quality workers from going to larger companies that can afford better health benefits.

"The only way to keep these good employees is to offer them the insurance they deserve," said Reasa Pabst, owner of Surfside Printing & Blueprints in Jacksonville Beach.

Barbara Hall, owner of Palmer Hall Floors Inc. said, "I try to offer the benefits the big companies offer. That's how you keep good people. …

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