Tennessee businesses and entrepreneurs benefited from the 2023 tax cuts


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

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  • Jason Schmidt 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 have no individual income tax, the lowest per capita debt in the nation, and enough common sense to prevent bureaucratic red tape from stifling our entrepreneurs.

I had the chance to serve on the Tennessee Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council’s Beacon Center with the goal of making Tennessee the Innovation Capital of America.

We released an 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 Tax Law Works Removes 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 the gross receipts tax, while businesses everywhere will have an additional $150 million each year to invest in growth.

Even more money would flow to these businesses annually — instead of to the government — if the Legislature completely repealed the business tax, as we’ve proposed.

Allowing small businesses to keep more of their hard-earned cash to build local economies and employ more people isn’t a partisan issue—it’s about doing the right thing by all Tennesseans. We can and should do more for people like my parents – entrepreneurs who dreamed and started a small trucking business almost 50 years ago with $200, an empty garage and a lot of grease.

The next generation of Tennessee business owners already have the bright ideas that will set our state on the path to continued economic prosperity, if only we allow them to bring those ideas to life.

What they need is a one-stop shop for their business, not three government agencies that require them to file and track separate documents. Even better would be to abolish registration fees for an entrepreneur’s first business so that money can be poured back into where it is most needed – into the business.

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We need to train the next generation of Tennessee entrepreneurs

We can’t expect aspiring 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, which currently leaves many owners learning by trial and error.

Tennessee is home to numerous Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) available at almost no cost—the perfect places for business-savvy entrepreneurs to hone future skills and avoid costly mistakes.

We need to encourage the offering of in-person and remote business courses at all 27 TCAT locations so that the next generation of job 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 grow can Tennessee maintain its reputation as one of the best states to start a small business.

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

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