Small business coalition in West Virginia wants a voice in Washington

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SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — During the pandemic, Washington has come to the rescue for struggling business — but is it only big business and politically well-connected business?

Meet Erin Lehman with Represent Us, a coalition of small businesses in West Virginia who feel they’ve been shortchanged by Washington.

“It really comes down to dark money and corporate influence,” Lehman said. “Special interests in our elections. Essentially the big corporations, the people with the biggest pockets, have the most influence and they can essentially buy our elections.”

Lehman is talking about influence that many small business owners say benefited big banks and big corporations on the Fortune 500, leaving the mom and pop shop owners in the dust.

“It was from policies that were developed that didn’t meet the needs of everybody in this pandemic,” said Jan Hafer, a small business owner in Shepherdstown. “And we fell through the cracks.”

It’s not just West Virginia small business, says Martha Ehlman from Harpers Ferry. This is a national issue.

“This is going to be important not just for small businesses in West Virginia,” said Ehlman, “but all over the country who really deserve to have their voices heard as well as people in marginalized communities.”

Just ask Linda Romero from Harpers Ferry. This all about protecting the special fabric of West Virginia communities.

“I love small businesses,” said Romero. “I love walking around Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry and supporting our local small business owners.”

This small business coalition for democracy continues to keep going and growing. The West Virginia small business coalition has more than 100 members in every region of the state from a variety of businesses such as electrical services, car and truck sales, craft shops, even farms.

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