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Fifth District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, heard the concerns of area business leaders on Friday, including concerns with the federal budget and uncertainty with the federal tax code.

On Friday, Hurt toured the facilities at Virginia Glass and Mirror in Ridgeway, ICF International in Martinsville and J.G. Edelen Co. in Martinsville.

Frank Abramcheck, ICF International’s senior vice president of market research and business processing, told him that he hoped that the federal budget would be passed quickly because the company needs to know if the government will be issuing any of its information technology development or survey contracts.

Without a budget, uncertainty hinders ICF’s ability to create more jobs, Abramcheck added.

Hurt responded that he is committed to getting a budget passed. He noted that the House of Representatives has passed three budgets in two years while the Democratic-controlled Senate has not approved any budget during that time.

Virginia Glass and Mirror President and Chief Executive Officer John Korff voiced his concerns about the state of manufacturing. “We need more manufacturers in this town” to stimulate the economy, Korff told Hurt.

Hurt pointed out that the recently adopted JOBS Act will help new ventures, particularly start-up companies. The act allows for greater access to capital for businesses, he added.

However, more needs to be done because it still is difficult for regional and small banks to put “capital on the street,” Hurt said. And that, he said, is bad for economic development.

In Hurt’s opinion, it is important that the private sector is able to make financing available to businesses, rather than money being put out through a government program, incentive or a stimulus package because those things place a burden on taxpayers if something goes wrong.

Korff said that the uncertainty in the tax code also affects business because companies questioning whether they can expand.

Former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year along with all tax extenders and tax incentives, which kills the ability for small businesses to expand, Hurt said.

During Hurt’s visit to J.G. Edelen Co., Vice President Jay Edelen told him that capitalism should be celebrated more in the U.S.

Hurt said he feels that all resources are allocated by individual choices; therefore, the U.S. should support free enterprise as opposed to a government-controlled system, he said.

The key to supporting free enterprise is to first reverse President Barack Obama’s health care reform measure, which takes one-sixth of the economy and makes it a government-controlled economy, Hurt said.

This country was built on free enterprise and individual freedom, and it should stay that way, he added.

In several tours through the 5th District, Hurt said constituents have told him that Washington is disconnected from the people. What he takes away from each tour is that Congress should be more responsive to the concerns of people and look for ways to make things easier for everyone, especially businesses, he added.

A few of the ways to make things easier for businesses are to not over-regulate them and adopt a sensible energy policy that lowers fuel prices by essentially drilling on U.S. soil, Hurt said. Drilling in the U.S. would create thousands of jobs for Americans, he added.

Hurt’s tour of the area Friday was not all about business. For instance, he visited Rich Acres Elementary School to celebrate its achievement of receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award, and he accompanied Carlisle students to release trout into the Smith River.

At Rich Acres, Hurt told the students at a ceremony that the Blue Ribbon Award is “really remarkable and quite an achievement ... and is a testament to your hard work and shows that you all are paying attention in class and you’re studying at home, working hard when you get here (at school) and also shows how hard your teachers are working.”

Hurt presented Rich Acres Principal Elizabeth Hussey with a U.S. flag.

During the trout release, Hurt got into the Smith River to free the trout that Carlisle students had raised in their Trout in the Classroom tanks throughout the year.

Hurt said he was impressed with the program. “It is wonderful to see such a successful program” that helps students appreciate their national resources and the beauty of wildlife in Southside Virginia, he said.

Also, a program such as Trout in the Classroom goes hand-in-hand with economic development because the better the quality of life in an area, the more likely it is to attract businesses, Hurt said.