Belmont's Center of Entrepreneurship showcased around 70 businesses started by its students or recent alumni from the program.
On Wednesday as other Belmont students browsed through dozens of tents where those businesses were on display, some of the talk was about the upcoming presidential election and the candidates' stance on small businesses.
Jared DeLong started MyTextbookFinder.com as a senior at Belmont. What started as just an idea is now a business start-up.
“I'm a believer in small government because I feel as a small business owner when there are too many regulations in place it can cripple a business that's just starting up,” he said. “Letting those business take care of themselves.”
That was a repeating theme among the students, already small business owners.
“Its never been big businesses that have pulled us out of a recession, it's never been government that has pulled us out of recession, its always been the small business owners that build growth and build jobs,” said Dr. Jeff Cornwall, the director of Belmont's Center of Entrepreneurship. “What's important to them is they need growth, they need new customers and with the economy so stagnant they're very unwilling to spend money on capital, they're really in a maintenance mode.”
Kurt Nelson is a recent graduate of Belmont who started Aloompa two years later.
Aloompa designs applications for music festivals such as Bonaroo and the recent Southern Grounds Food and Music Festival.
“If you look at a lot of the major companies, they all started as small companies,” he said. “As a small company we need those large companies for our business to grow.”
Dr. Cornwall said in this election year, small businesses are carefully listening to what the candidates are saying about the issues that most affect them.
“Taxes are a huge issue, every time we see a survey of small business owners, taxes are right at the top of the list,” he said. “Regulation is a huge issue for small business owners and there are lots that can be done to simplify regulations for the start-up process and for running a successful business.”
Small business was a key issue during the first presidential election.
It is expected to be discussed again when the vice-presidential candidates debate Thursday night.