Jobs and the economy drove the discussion Wednesday when Vern Buchanan met with a group of nearly a dozen restaurant owners from Sarasota and Manatee counties.
The Sarasota Republican congressman listened as the entrepreneurs discussed some of the financial challenges facing their businesses during the meeting at the Holiday Inn Sarasota-Airport.
Buchanan’s meeting comes on the heels of a study released this week ranking Bradenton one of the best small cities in the U.S. to start a small business. According to the personal finance website WalletHub, Bradenton was ranked 114th out of 1,261 small cities around the country. Sarasota came in at 391.
Buchanan, a successful businessman before entering Congress, has called for an overhaul and simplification of the tax code to lower rates for individuals and small businesses.
“When our small businesses succeed, the Suncoast succeeds,” he told the group. “Your hard work helps to drive our economy and create jobs.”
John Horne, chief executive officer of Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton, was among the attendees.
“It’s nice to have a businessman representing us in Congress,” Horne said. “Congressman Buchanan understands these issues well.”
Buchanan represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District, which includes Manatee County, along with parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.
The area’s 1,500 restaurants employ more than 29,000 people in Buchanan’s district, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Buchanan also updated the group on his “Main Street Fairness Act,” a proposal to make sure that no small business in the country pays a higher tax rate than large corporations. The legislation picked up bipartisan steam earlier this month when Sens. Bill Nelson and Susan Collins of Maine introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
“Tax reform will generate enormous economic growth and create jobs,” Buchanan said.