Artie Tafoya has big plans for the Appalachian Brewing Company, the Harrisburg-based craft beer and soda business he co-owns. He wants to add capacity, build his customer base and hire more workers. And thanks to the recent federal tax cuts, he’s confident he can get it done.
“They’ve allowed us to look toward the future and decide we’re ready to grow again,” he said.
I met Artie at the restaurant, brewery and event space he and his partners built with the help of a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The 26,000-square-foot space in Silver Spring Township has 80 employees and serves as many as 300 customers a day.
It produces specialty beers, as well as all the root beer and other craft sodas served at the company’s six restaurants and bottled for sale in thousands of locations across the country.
And still, Artie notes, the facility is operating at only 15 percent capacity. As it grows, he’ll create 20 or 30 more jobs.
Growth had stalled after this location opened in 2014, but since President Trump signed the tax cuts into law, Artie and his partners are feeling optimistic: “We see the future as being pretty bright. We see people spending money now.”
Artie’s optimism reflects what I hear from small business owners I meet with all over the country. And it’s reflected in multiple surveys of entrepreneurs. In surveys done by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNBC and the National Association of Manufacturers, members report their highest-ever levels of optimism.
As a result of their confidence in our economy, small business owners are creating jobs. The latest jobs report shows that since President Trump was elected, almost 3 million jobs have been created.
The national unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent, the lowest it’s been in 17 years. The number of people getting unemployment benefits is the lowest since 1973. Meanwhile, wages are on the rise – up 2.7 percent, the highest twelve-month rate during any calendar year since 2008.
These numbers aren’t just good headlines. They have a real impact in on America’s 30 million small businesses and in effect, the millions of people who own or work for them. They’ll be taxed at lower rates. When filing taxes, most businesses will be able to deduct 20 percent of their business income. And for the next five years, they’ll be able to write off a significant portion of the cost of investments in new equipment in the year the investments are made.
Artie Tafoya says all of these factors will make a difference. As he showed me around the bottling facility, he pointed out what he called the “heart” of the operation – a giant piece of equipment that instantaneously mixes soda syrup with water, cools it, carbonates it and sends it to the bottling machine. It’ll be too small for the growth he envisions, so he’s planning to purchase another – and thanks to the tax cuts, he’ll be able to write off that investment.
Many entrepreneurs tell me they’ll invest their tax savings in their businesses – adding resources, improving technology, raising wages or giving bonuses to employees.
And because of their lower tax rates, most workers are seeing more money in their paychecks.
The Council of Economic Advisers estimates the economy will grow by three percent on average over the next ten years, and household incomes will increase by about $4,000 a year due to the corporate tax cuts alone.
As consumers in central Pennsylvania shop and dine out more, they’ll put more money into their local economy – and into businesses like Artie’s.
This op-ed appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot-News on April 18, 2018.