Congressman Troy Balderson speaks with reporters during a visit to downtown Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- Congressman Troy Balderson visited Mansfield on Friday during his “back-to-business tour." 

Balderson said his primary purpose was to check on business owners and get feedback on federal aid programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

“I want to continue looking at the small businesses and seeing what needs are still out there,” he said. “That’s part of what we’re doing with this back to business tour is just getting some insight from them and things that they need and want to see done.”

Balderson serves on the House Committee on Small Business, which is the primary committee of jurisdiction over small business relief programs implemented by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Balderson visited multiple businesses in the 12th congressional district, including Michael Byrne Manufacturing on Friday.

Jim Weist, president of the company, said one of the biggest things business owners want is consistency.

“There's such a mixed bag of information that makes it very difficult to have a real coherent plan for most businesses," he said. 

“If you're trying to run your business and you're trying to stay up to date with what the rules and regulations are that is a full-time job in itself," said Leslie Weist, vice president of operations.

In addition to more clear and consistent guidelines, Balderson said one thing that’s common among business owners is excitement to be operating again.

The congressman stated that keeping the economy open is vital and encouraged constituents to follow public guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the risk of additional shutdowns.

“Wear a mask, practice social distancing and continue to encourage people to do that. It makes a difference,” he said. "We don’t want to have that heavy spike to where we have to go to a different phase or hold back the economy."

“(Business owners) don’t want to close back down again," he added. "I think a lot of them would tell you, 'We could not survive that again.'"

After the bipartisan passage of legislation extending the PPP last week, Balderson is continuing to work on measures that would increase telehealth access, create a PPE tax credit for small businesses and give greater flexibility to CARES Act recipients.

Balderson co-sponsored H.R. 7216, which would allow small businesses, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, farmers, independent contractors and sole proprietors a $25,000 tax credit for the cost of personal protective equipment.

He also recently threw his support behind H.R.7094, a bill that would allow state and local governments more flexibility in how they spend CARES funding.

Richland County Auditor Pat Dropsey told county commissioners last month that CARES funding comes with too many strings attached. The money can only be used for COVID-19 expenses, not to cover any revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic.

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