Tennessee businesses and entrepreneurs benefited from the 2023 tax cut


Only by providing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the tools to thrive can Tennessee maintain its reputation as one of the best states to start a small business.

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  • Jason Schmitt is the former CEO of Old Time Pottery and serves on the Tennessee State Workforce Development Board.

Tennessee has long been one of the best states in America to start a small business.

We don’t have a personal income tax, the lowest debt per citizen, and enough common sense to prevent bureaucratic red tape from stifling our entrepreneurs.

I have had the opportunity to serve on the Beacon Center of the Tennessee Council for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with the goal of making Tennessee the innovation capital of America.

We released our economic road map earlier this year, and the state legislature has already passed half a dozen of our recommendations into law, including the largest tax cut in state history.

More: How Tennessee Works Tax Act Raises Barriers for Businesses and Individuals | Opinion

Money will flow to business, not government

Now, more than 140,000 small business job creators from Memphis to the Tri-Cities are exempt from gross income taxes, while companies across the board will have an additional $150 million each year to invest in growth.

If the Legislature does away with the business tax entirely, as we have proposed, more money will go to these businesses each year than to the government.

Allowing small businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money to build local economies and employ more people isn’t a partisan issue—it’s the right thing to do for all Tennesseans. For people like my parents—entrepreneurs who built and started a small trucking business nearly 50 years ago with $200, an empty garage, and a lot of elbow grease—we can and must do more.

Tennessee’s next generation of business owners have bright ideas that will lead our state on a path of continued economic progress if we allow them to come to fruition.

What they need is a one-stop shop for their business, rather than three government agencies that require them to file and track separate documents. Even better would be to waive registration fees for an entrepreneur’s first business so that the money can be put back where it is needed most – the business.

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We need to train Tennessee’s next generation of entrepreneurs

We can’t wait for small business owners to grow on trees. Like my parents, aspiring entrepreneurs need help figuring out how to balance a good idea with managing the nuts and bolts of the business.

Most high schools do not adequately teach financial literacy, leaving many owners to learn through trial and error.

Tennessee is home to numerous Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) that are available virtually for free—perfect places for business-savvy entrepreneurs to develop future skills and avoid costly mistakes.

We must promote in-person and distance business course offerings at all 27 TCAT locations so that the next generation of business creators has the know-how to read financial statements, balance budgets, and develop business plans.

Only by providing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the tools to thrive can Tennessee maintain its reputation as one of the best states to start a small business.

Jason Schmitt is the former CEO of Old Time Pottery and serves on the Tennessee State Workforce Development Board. Jason previously held executive positions at Walmart, Amazon, Gap and Mattel before joining Old Time Pottery.

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