( 3 Votes )

Congressman Robert Hurt watched Sue Charney make candy.In an effort to better serve small businesses and find out what is uppermost in the minds of his constituency, Congressman Robert Hurt, toured areas in his district, meeting with business people and citizens.

One such place was Fluvanna’s own success story, Red Rocker Candy. Sue Charney started making candy in her own kitchen and then kept expanding the business. Entrepreneur Charney also hung on during the hard times of this current recession.

As Hurt took a tour of her facility where Charney makes her sought after confections, he queried her on how she got started, how the business has been running and other thoughts while she showed him her daily process of making candy. As promised, Charney made some of her melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate, which she imports from Canada, added miniature marshmallows and toasted coconut for a sampling once it cooled.

Others also present at a roundtable – sharing homemade baked goods by Theresa Hamm, owner of the Gypsy Gourmet Cake Lounge – were Theresa, John Nunley of Better Living Building Supply, Jim Bogden of Crossroads Auto and the current president of the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce, Evelyn Boor of Rainbow International, Anna Murphy, owner of her own State Farm Insurance franchise, Terry Brown of Mailbox Express, and Chris Fairchild of National Filter Service. Present from Louisa County, were photographer Bill Storer and Lindwood Napier of T&N Printing in Charlottesville.

Hurt said that the nation faces many challenges and there has been mismanagement at all levels of the federal government and no one single person, party or group are to blame, we all share in the failure.

“We are $16 trillion in debt,” said Hurt. “We need to rely on the private sector to create jobs not government. We need to know what we can change in Washington to make it easier for you to do business. Our regulations are overbearing and totally out of proportion. The cost of fuel and electricity is another problem for businesses. We need to help businesses succeed.”

He discussed returning to constitutional values and nurturing a free enterprise system. His fear is that government is taking more responsibility for what we do through intense and burdensome regulation. Charney spoke of the recently enacted Food Safety Act that requires small businesses similar to hers to record all serial numbers on boxes of chocolate and cereal and other items she uses in her candy making process. Charney said it takes three hours to log in all the serial numbers package.

Brown and Fairchild discussed OSHA regulations and the Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS used to label all chemicals including a simple bottle of Windex.

Hurt gave another one of his classic examples of an agency regulating miners. The inspectors checked on a quarry owner and after the owner passed inspection the inspector cited him for having an open trash can with no lid in his office. He was fined $4,000.

Many business owners are frightened of government reprisal if they protest regarding an unfair regulation.

“This sets the business up for failure,” said Hurt. Brown and Fairchild followed with their own nightmare paper trail stories. Brown tells the story of the weights and measures inspector coming to his business long after he opened his doors for business. He told Brown they were behind in their inspections and missed his yearly visit. The weights and measures inspectors are notified by the manufacturer regarding new scales and go to the businesses who purchased new scales. Brown passed the inspection and asked what would have happened had he not passed. The inspector would have shut him down. Hurt stated that the agency people come into his office complaining that small business owners question them. Fairchild believes that bureaucracy sets businesses owners up for failure. Hurt agreed.

“Their (bureaucrats) livelihoods depend on making things complex. It will take years. How do you eat the elephant, one bite at a time,” said Hurt who added, “Big companies have lobbyists who make a good living by skinning the company and the people.”