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Small-business owners converge on Utah Capitol to visit with lawmakers

SALT LAKE CITY — Small-business owners from around Utah converged at the Capitol on Wednesday for an event hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Utah Taxpayers Association.

Small-business owners listened to speakers talk about bills that might affect them this year, as well as information about how to navigate the Capitol and Legislature's website to contact their lawmakers.

Steven VanBibber, who owns a manufacturing company in Orem called Precision Assembly, said this is the first year he has actively engaged as a citizen at the Legislature.

"For me, as a small-business owner and a member of the NFIB, I wanted to come see from the inside and hear directly from the representatives who are sponsoring bills that favor business," VanBibber said.

Tax bills affecting his business are at the top of his list of legislation to watch, he said.

"Our economy is run on small business, and as small-business owners, we have … an obligation to be engaged with those who affect policies that affect business," VanBibber said.

"If you negatively affect business, you negatively affect populations, and you negatively affect communities," he said.

Nancy Ford, who owns Security 101, a commercial security company based in Salt Lake City, said state lawmakers sometimes don't understand the full impact of the rules that are being made "because they are a step removed."

Ford gave an example of a new need for legislation in that drones have become a big security threat around correctional facilities. They can drop groceries, drugs, cellphones and even weapons to inmates. One of the things her company specializes in is drone detection, she said.

"You need small-business owners to show up to things like this so you can actually keep (legislators) aware of your new challenges and your new threats," Ford said.

Candace Daly, the Utah state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said there are close to 89,000 small businesses in Utah and attendance grows at the Capitol event every year.