Removing The Barriers

Entrepreneurship is one of the main ways Black Americans have always built legacy wealth and economic prosperity for generations, and we have to continue to create, empower and remove barriers to entrepreneurial entry to help stimulate the growth of Black American entrepreneurship. 

Time and time again big government gets in the way. You see it all the time, you need to pay this fee, pass this test, renew this license, get that certification, be approved by this entity, buy this course, and the list goes on and on. One in four jobs in America mandates some form of government-issued license to work.

The issue of licensure reform is one that is not in the headlines all the time, but it is a conservative policy that has been quietly making its way from policy ideas to actual legislation in states where Republicans are in charge. Former President Trump pushed for these reforms,  GOP Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona was the first to sign universal occupational licensing reform into law in 2019 and at the end of last month, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia became the latest through his universal licensing law. Under Ducey’s leadership in Arizona, The Goldwater Institutesays, “more than 6,500 professionals have been granted a license to work in Arizona under universal recognition, in fields ranging from medicine to cosmetology to engineering.”

When Governor Youngkin signed the new legislation into law in Virginia he did so at a Black-owned barber shopbecause it is by far the best example of how this type of occupational license reform can and should be applied. Youngkin said in a statement, “My administration has worked tirelessly, and we’ve been successful in bringing thousands of Virginians off the sidelines and back into the workforce. But what I hear from businesses of all sizes, large and small, is they need more, they need more workers. Universal license recognition will assist in resolving worker shortages while at the same time benefiting consumers through reduced costs of goods and services.”

  Virginia Republican Delegate Will Morefield said, “A universal licensure system ensures a level playing field, allowing an individual to move to any zip code in the Commonwealth and have access to quality jobs and opportunities.” 

In North Carolina today, if a young entrepreneur wants to pursue the dream of owning their own barbershop and creating a place to have people from his community become self-employed barbers there are a lot of steps to take and it is not free. If you have a barbershop and wanted to hire someone licensed in South Carolina, they will have to go through the process to be re-certified and licensed in North Carolina and that is a total waste of time, energy, and money. Yes, you would have to pay all the fees and take all the exams just because you moved to

 a new state. At a time when every dollar matters and time is money, it becomes a deterrent and burden to relocate and continue your small business.

In order to get a North Carolina barber license, there are four main steps everyone must take, “Graduate From a 1,528-Hour Barber Program in North Carolina, pass the test for a Certificate of Registration as an Apprentice Barber, pass the Certificate of Registration as a Registered Barber exam and pay to renew your license every year. It will cost more than $200 in fees alone, then there is equipment, supplies, marketing, booth rental, etc.

Having a universal licensing system is a game changer for many people. When the Virginia Governor went to get his hair cut by Dot Reid at Refuge for Men barber shop, she talked about the challenges she faced during the pandemic she lost many of her barbers and needed to replace them quickly to fill demand because if she found a barber who was licensed in North Carolina or just 30 minutes away in another state like Maryland or Washington D.C. she could not hire them on the spot, they would have to go through the entire process, spending time and money to be licensed in Virginia.

At the bill signing Governor Youngkin said, “What this means is that in 85 different occupations, if you have a license in another state and you’re coming to Virginia — making sure that of course you’re up-to-date and don’t have any problems where you’re coming from and making sure you understand the laws of Virginia — you can go to work right away. This is my first official signing because this bill will change lives.”

I talked to my own barber about this and asked his opinion on this type of law he had not heard about it but said it was welcome news because it is an issue for barbers and barbershop owners. He said this could really be a game changer for growing and expanding. 

Big government oftentimes gets in the way and stifles opportunities and progress for small businesses and entrepreneurs who remain the backbone of our economy. When the government prevents kids from learning about the value of a dollar by shutting down lemonade stands and forcing dog walkers to pay a fee to be licensed to walk their dogs, you can see how this hurts the quest for the American dream with those who have an entrepreneurial mind.

Thankfully, we have good policy, yes conservative Republican-driven economic policies that make sense and will serve to empower and remove barriers big government places in our way like universal licensing reform. 

Paris Dennard is a prominent communications and political expert consultant who has worked at all levels of government and Republican politics.