3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Mar. 5

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NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Doctors Express has been acquired. Franchised operation Doctors Express has been acquired by Phoenix-based Immediate Clinic and its parent company, The Ensign Group (ENSG) of Mission Viejo, Calif.

With Immediate Clinic's leadership (led by Dr. John Shufeldt, the former CEO of NextCare, one of the nation's largest and most successful privately owned providers of urgent care and occupational medical services) as well as Ensign's resources, Doctors Express will be able to "fulfill its mission of redefining the patient experience by eliminating long waits associated with doctor's office or emergency room visits," the company said in an announcement Monday.

"Doctors Express has done a great job growing the business, providing state-of-the-art urgent medical care and supporting franchisees across the country," Shufeldt says in a statement. "I see a lot of potential for Doctors Express, and we intend to pursue a variety of innovative strategies to provide customer and quality-centric urgent care and occupational medical services."

There are 49 Doctors Express centers, and 143 franchises have been awarded in 24 states, 85 of which will open by the end of the year. Doctors Express plans to have 1,000 centers open in the long term.

2. Small firm hiring is slowing. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees created 45,000 jobs during the four weeks starting Jan. 24, according to Intuit's(INTU) Small Business Employment Index . The number of hours worked by small-business employees also decreased slightly last month, but that was offset by a small uptick in compensation, Intuit says.

"We saw another month of tepid improvement for small businesses in February, echoing pretty much all of the other indicators of economic activity," says economist Susan Woodward, who works with Intuit to create the Index. "The low hiring rate reflects the reluctance of employees to leave their jobs in such an unsecure job market, so employers do not need to hire to replace them. This phenomenon is present in firms of all sizes, and is not unique to small firms."

3. High gas prices are killing small businesses. Politico published an opinion piece by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who is also the chair to the House Small Business Committee, urging Congress to address high gas prices as they are placing serious pressure on small businesses and ultimately the recovery at large. His solution is in line with Republican orthodoxy: Drill, baby, drill. (And produce more natural gas and coal.)

"U.S. small businesses want lower fuel prices now. It is up to Washington to put aside political pandering to special interests and open up safe exploration and development to our domestic energy resources. If we don't, small businesses will suffer, and our recovery will be delayed," Graves writes.