Small business issues top list of concerns for March

Floyd County resident Marie March is a Donald Trump supporter, and she doesn’t care who knows it. But she’s more than that. She’s also a supporter of small business, the Second Amendment, and helping others get their lives back on track – and still others to get a start in business.

March is one of the candidates for the Republican nomination for the House of Delegates in the 7th District – the seat previously held by Nick Rush.

Marie March

March is known in the New River Valley as the owner of two popular Christiansburg restaurants, Fatback Soul Shack and Due South BBQ.

She made headlines back in January after she and her husband, Jared, a Floyd physician attended the “Save America Rally” at the National Mall in Washington for President Trump.

The rally proceeded the violence at the Capitol Building. March is on record saying she and her husband left the area prior to the incident at the Capitol.

Upon returning, March faced backlash for attending the rally from some in the area, including incumbent 12th District Delegate Chris Hurst, a Democrat.

Hurst later apologized on social media for his comment.

Since Hurst’s criticism her restaurant businesses has boomed – even tripled in revenue, March told The Patriot Tuesday.

“I realized real quick that we’re in RED Southwest Virginia. That’s really why I’m running. I thought, ‘Gosh, I bet I could get elected!’ These people are mad. They’re Trump supporters and I’m a Trump supporter.”

March says the dust-up with Hurst was part of the reason she decided to run for the House seat.

“Well, partly,” March said.  “We serve country food and I always knew our clientele is about 99 percent conservative. But when that happened, everyone came flooding in from everywhere to let us know they support us. But additionally, I’ve fought with local government for years. When the noise ordinance thing happened with the Starlight movie theater in Christiansburg, I was in the middle of that. I fought the sign ordinances – I’m really big on free market and personal property rights so I’ve gone up against some local yahoos for several years. I’ve figured out how to read contracts, so I don’t mind going after them.”

March said her campaign is “going pretty good.”

“If I walk up to a house that’s got a Trump sign they run out and give me a hug.  I get excited. Every house we pull up to I tell the person I’m with, ‘These are my people!’ I jump out and run to the door and they’re like, ‘You’re the lady from the barbecue!’ There’s a lot of enthusiasm. I think I can win; I really do. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I could,” she said.

March remains an unapologetic supporter of the 45th President.

“I’m not backing down from my support for Trump. He got us a tax cut, which enabled us to have health care for our staff. All those years under Obama they were talking health care and our staff were too poor (to pay for it). We couldn’t afford to do it for them. But as soon as Trump gave us that tax cut, we had the money in the bank to provide health care for our staff. So, even liberals, when I tell them that story that makes them think for a minute. Almost,” she joked.

What sets March apart from her opponents for the GOP nomination?

“I actually own eight different small businesses. My husband doesn’t own them. I own them. I put my husband through medical school when we opened Due South BBQ, then we’ve gone on to open Fatback Soul Shack. But I’ve also started NRV Homegrown, a small business alliance with 350 small, independent, locally owned businesses. We publish a magazine, we do a website, social media and we sell a discount card that is used as a fundraiser for schools. When you buy that card, the schools get $10 from every card they sell, and it helps to drive business – kind of like the sports card that a lot of schools sell – but we do it so instead of sending them to franchises we send them to the local mom and pops.

“We also do a boarding house. Years ago, we started hiring a few folks coming out of incarceration. We hired them in our kitchen to get them back to work and into society. We worked with a program called Virginia Cares. Bringing folks out of that program – they need low-income housing because they’re getting back on their feet. If they don’t have low-income housing to go into that they can afford then they end up going back to whatever it was that got them on drugs to begin with.

“So, we converted an old motel into a really nice place that has five different buildings, and we house people who need to get back on their feet. We’ve had great success with it. We’ve got managers that have now worked for us for years who are sober and have gotten married and have kids. They’re loyal. We have extremely loyal folks in our restaurants.

“My competition hasn’t done that. My competition has never fought against government, they’ve been a part of the problem,” she said.

“My husband and I spoke at both the Floyd County and Montgomery County Sanctuary meetings because we actually have concealed carry classes taught at our restaurant. Our managers actually carry concealed at our restaurant. So, we’re big pro-Second Amendment people. We went to Lobby Day in Richmond two years ago. My opponents didn’t speak at any of that, didn’t show up for any of that. Now they’re saying they are big Second Amendment people, but they were nowhere to be found,” March added.

Being a small businessperson, it’s no surprise March is big on getting help for small business owners.

“The big thing with me is small business. There is a bunch of stuff I want to do to help the small business owners.

“Small businesses, when they collect tax dollars, they actually collect sales tax, meals tax, lodging taxes – they have to collect those taxes. They’re actually paying credit card fees on the taxes they collect. We’ve got to put a bill in there so the government compensates them back for those credit card fees that they’re having to carry from those tax collections.

“That’s number one,” she stated.

“Number two is all the paperwork. I own restaurants, so I have to fill out USDA, FDA, health department, ABC, the grease trap department, the water department … I have all this paperwork. The government needs to be compensating us for our time. Either you have a staff accountant and people to fill out this stuff or we do it ourselves and it’s just like they force us to have to do all their paperwork and all their administrative.

“So, If I can get up there to Richmond, there’s going to be bill after bill after bill that I’m going to be carrying to help the small business folks. I know what we go through.

“I’ve got all kinds of ideas on other bills. I could go on and on,” March said.

“Of course, the Second Amendment is a big deal too.

“What they’ve done with this preemption is a disaster,” March exclaimed.

Changes in the state’s preemption laws allow localities to set their own laws regarding possession, carrying, storing and transportation of firearms and ammunition.

“In Blacksburg, they’re starting to make everything gun free zones and the only people who disarm are the lawfully abiding citizens. The criminals don’t disarm when they see a sticker on a door. We’ve got to get those rights restored. Our rights have seriously been infringed by Richmond.

“I’m friends with most of the VCDL (Virginia Citizens Defense League) so if I win the primary, I’ll be carrying bills for them. I pass out those Guns Save Lives stickers when I campaign,” March noted.

“If they (citizens) know me, they know I’m pro-Trump and I did not back down. I went to see my President speak at the Jan. 6 event and it was great! That was the first time we’d gotten to see Trump. The Democrats they tried to make me look terrible, like I was somehow involved in what happened at the Capitol and we weren’t there. We went to see Trump. It was a great day, and I am never going to back down from my support of Donald Trump.

“I agreed with all of Trump’s policies. There wasn’t one policy that I didn’t think was a brilliant idea and just like Trump, I’m a business owner and I’m going to be working for the people, for jobs – it’s all about jobs. Jobs are what makes a society successful. We’ve got to get jobs,” said March.

“We’ve got two small business incubators that we’ve gotten off the ground. My husband and I have invested in some younger people and their ideas for two small businesses in Christiansburg. We have helped to rehabilitate some properties for them and have actually invested in their businesses through low interest loans to get them off the ground.

“What I want to do is get together a coalition of wealthy business owners who have made it and us all start investing in our youth so we can keep them here in our communities after they graduate. We’ve got to take them under our wing and mentor them. And instead of all the grant money, we’ve got to self-fund it and help these people open their own niche small businesses and mentor them and help invest in them,” March said.

Republicans in the 7th District, including Floyd County, most of Pulaski County and a portion of Montgomery County will choose their nominee April 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a “firehouse primary.”

Republican voters in Pulaski County will cast their ballots in the Farris Building at the New River Valley Fairgrounds in Dublin.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot