In Support of Small Business

You have a business to run, so the team at SBAM constantly monitors issues affecting small business so you don’t have to.  SBAM also helps to give you and other small business owners a voice in the democratic process by connecting members with influential policymakers.

You can help protect your small business and help bolster Michigan’s entrepreneurs by getting involved today.

SBAM has an easy way for you to contact your elected officials. Take action now and voice your support for small business by:

  • Contacting your legislators
  • Examining voting records   
  • Locating your elected officials
  • Tracking key issues
  • Learning about elections

Policy Agenda

SBAM recently released its Small Business Policy Agenda. Download your copy here.


Latest Legislative News

Motivate your employees to achieve success! Wednesday on the free Business Next audio seminar.

Today on Business Next, Michael Rogers talks with m.Motivational speaker and trainer Paul Artale talks about how to set up your small business employees for success, the virtues of a compressed workweek and the value of being involved in your community, both for the small business owner and the small business employees.
Also today,  Shirish Grover, coordinator for the Ferris State Entrepreneurship Institute, discusses the purpose and goals of this new Ferris State program; and from the International Council of Shopping Centers Michigan Idea Exchange in Dearborn, Steve Millman of Northstar Commercial talks about the commercial real estate perspective in west Michigan and Jason Kildea, director of commercial real estate for the Gillespie Group, talks about urban retail re-development in downtown Lansing.

Listen Wednesday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.   

Lessons of success from Michigan’s dynamic commercial retail real estate economy! Monday on the Business Next audio seminar

Business Next host Michael Rogers reports from the International Council of Shopping Centers Michigan Idea Exchange in Dearborn. West Michigan commercial real estate broker Earl Clements talks about the small business impact of Cabela’s new store in Grandville; Michael Anderer, Senior Real Estate Representative for one of American’s great national small business franchise success stories – 7-Eleven – talks about their aggressive Michigan expansion strategy; Robert Donohue Jr., Main Street Coordinator for Oakland County, explains how small businesses play a vital role in making sure main streets are successful; site selection expert Mike Deighan of O’Keefe & Associates talks about how small businesses can learn a lot about site selection by watching what big retailers are doing in their community; Paul Magy, a commercial real estate attorney for Clark Hill, explains the importance of building a team of experts to help advance your entrepreneurial success and John Heiney, executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District, talks about how PSDs can help the growth and prosperity of downtown small businesses.

Listen Monday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.  

Steven Strauss: The Annual Summertime Biz Quiz

1. Who said, “You don't understand. I want to be surprised. Astonish me, sport. New info, don't care where or how you get it, just get it.”
A. Howard Hughes (The Aviator)
B. Charles Foster Kane (Citizen Kane)
C. Rod Tidwell (Jerry Maguire)
D. Gordon Gekko (Wall Street)

2. In the great James Cavell book about the beginning of trading in Hong Kong, Tai-Pan, Tai Pan means
A. Ruthless warrior
B. Supreme leader
C. Cunning trader
D. Unwanted foreigner

3. Who starred in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying?
A. Ricardo Montalbán
B. Ricky Ricardo
C. Joel Fleishman
D. Joel Grey

4. What Makes Sammy Run is a book and play about
A. Backstabbing and success on Wall Street
B. Backstabbing and success in Washington
C. Backstabbing and success in Hollywood
D. Backstabbing and success at Wal-Mart

5. Who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”
A. Bill Gates of Microsoft in Pirates of the Silicon Valley
B. Steve Jobs of Apple in Pirates of the Silicon Valley
C. Andy Grove of Intel Pirates of the Silicon Valley
D. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in The Social Network

6. Who said, “I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”
A. Joe Pesci in Goodfellas
B. Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver
C. Marlon Brando in The Godfather
D. Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

7. The business book classic, Barbarians at the Gate, was about
A. The leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco
B. The feared Japanese business threat of the late ‘80s
C. How to deal with bad employees
D. Financial incompetence

8. “______ is the enemy of Great” 
A. Good
B. Laziness
C. Complacency
D. Mediocrity

9. What is the subtitle of Timothy Ferris book The 4 Hour Work Week?
A. How Anyone, Anywhere Can Live The Life Of Their Dreams
B. Work Smarter, Not Harder
C. Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
D. It’s Not Who You Know, It’s What You Do That Counts

10. What did architect Howard Roark do to begin the book The Fountainhead?
A. Kill himself
B. Give an incredibly long, boring, self-serving, one-sided, egomanical speech
C. Laugh
D. Vomit

11. Who wrote Winning?
A. Charlie Sheen
B. Jack Welch
C. Jack Black
D. Conrad Hilton

12. In what movie was this said: “You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in . . . 60 years.”
A. Citizen Kane
B. Wall Street
C. The Hudsucker Proxy
D. Trading Places

13. Who said, “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”
A. Bruce Wayne
B. Richie Rich
C. Tony Montana 
D. Joe Montana

14. What character did Rodney Dangerfield play in Caddyshack?
A. Millionaire Al Czervik
B. Judge Elihu Smails
C. Entrepreneur Carl Spackler
D. Wiseguy Ty Webb

15. What movie did this quote come from: “Lesson number one: Don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed.”
A. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
B. Scarface
C. Casablanca
D. There Will Be Blood

16. Speaking of There Will Be Blood, what was the name of the oilman played by Daniel Day Lewis?
A. Daniel Plainview
B. Anton Chigurh
C. Daniel Wellstone
D. Father Mulcahey

17. In It's a Wonderful Life, Banker George Bailey has four children. What is the name of the youngest?
A. Tommy Bailey
B. Janie Bailey
C. Zuzu Bailey

Michigan’s Health Insurance Exchange - Update

As mentioned in yesterday’s Agent Alert, earlier today there was a joint committee hearing of the House Health Policy Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).  The topic of this hearing was the status of Michigan’s Health Exchange.  The planning work for the Exchange is taking place, or maybe more appropriately stated, would take place in LARA.  Testifying on behalf of LARA were LARA Director Steve Hilfinger, Deputy Director Shelly Edgerton, Finance Director Allan Pohl and Project Manager Chris Priest.  

Following opening remarks and an overview of the Exchange timeline (which matches the timeline we reported yesterday) the key questions of the day centered around funding the development of the Exchange and timing, including:
  • Needed State Action
  • State based vs. Partnership vs. Federally-Facilitated Exchange
  • Medicaid Expansion
  • Essential Health Benefits
  • Federal Rulemaking
  • The potential for new legal challenges
Governor Snyder and the staff at LARA believe that it is prudent to act now on developing a Michigan based Exchange, but they need legislative authorization to request and spend $9.8 million available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The opportunity to receive these dollars expires in November of 2012 (although other similar dates have been extended).  These dollars would be spent conducting further studies on the type of Exchange for Michigan, developing requests for proposal for vendors and information technology, coordinating technologies between departments and other pre-launch steps necessary before an Exchange could be operated.  In total, there are forty-two requirements that must be met, with information technology as the most challenging.

Director Hilfinger worries that further delays may result in the only real choice for Michigan being either the Partnership model or the Federally-Facilitated Exchange, both which limit the flexibility of Michigan to design an Exchange that meets the needs of our citizens and our small businesses.  He commented that the Partnership model, for example, is not nearly a 50%/50% partnership between Michigan and Washington, but more of a 16% Michigan/84% Washington design, and a FFE is 100% Washington driven, with some of the invoices being paid by Michigan.  Hilfinger also commented that some other states are moving forward with planning and that LARA is seeing increases in vendor pricing and decreases in availability due to demand.  To date, seventeen states intend to run their own Exchange, two states will be in partnership models, seven states have declined to run an Exchange and twenty-four are undecided.

The opposing argument for delaying the development of the Michigan based Exchange is three-fold.  First, there are many unanswered questions.  This is especially true regarding the design and operation of a Federally-Facilitated Exchange, Essential Health Benefits, Medicaid Expansion and the debate about whether or not subsidies and tax credits can be made available via anything other than a state based exchange.  If HHS has a plan for a FFE, they are keeping that information to themselves for the time being.  Second, deadlines have shifted in the past and there is no reason to believe that they will not do so in the future. Third, the impending November elections.  

At the end of the day, what did we learn?  If Michigan starts with a FFE, we can apply to take it back in future years to a state based exchange, and we learned that deadlines are real, or maybe they aren’t.   Beyond the arguments of both sides, we also relearned that it is going to be a while before this one gets decided.  No vote was taken today and the only thing promised was that the committees will meet again - sometime in t

Insurance Exchange Arguments & Timeline

Over the last several weeks, we have had many questions from agents and members regarding the status of a health exchange for Michigan.  Provided below is  a timeline for the Exchange,  as well as definitions and brief arguments for and against the Exchange that are taking place here in Lansing.  With a joint hearing scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th, we may know more on the direction Michigan will take.  If anything comes from this meeting of the House Health Policy and House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), we will report that tomorrow.  

Starting with a very brief review of the arguments for and against the Exchange:

Argument for the Exchange:  
  • Unless or until something changes in federal law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the law of the land and the ACA requires each state to establish an American Health Benefits Exchange for individuals and families and a Small Business Health Options Program.  The ACA  offers several grants available to the states to develop the Exchanges; these grants, worth roughly $9 million, require that legislation be passed and signed into law by Governor Snyder before the money can be accepted.  Delaying legislative action puts Michigan “behind the eight ball” in the software development and linkages to various legacy information systems and could result in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishing and operating the Exchange here in Michigan.  
Argument against the Exchange:
  • The first argument is one of control over the Exchange and Medicaid.  According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), all state health insurance exchanges must be approved by the federal government, and the federal government, not the state, will have authority and oversight over the exchanges. The law gives the federal government full authority to commandeer any exchange that does not meet all federal requirements.  Second, if Mitt Romney defeats Barak Obama in this fall’s election and Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate, the ACA could be overturned.  Mitt Romney has vowed to throw it out soon after taking office and because the Supreme Court has ruled the individual mandate as a tax, a simple majority in the Senate is all that is required to pass legislation overturning the ACA.  
In addition to the option of Michigan developing our own American Health Benefits Exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program, there are a couple of other options that State legislature could decide upon.  The first is a hybrid of sorts called a State Partnership Exchange where Michigan could manage the health plans on the Exchange and the federal government could manage, for example, the Medicaid eligibility and subsidies of the Exchange.  A second option is that Michigan could simply refuse to cooperate and turn all functions of the Exchange over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and let HHS develop and manage a Federally-Facilitated Exchange. 

SBAM believes both of these final two options would be a mistake and that Michigan should take control of our own destiny when it comes to issues of the Exchange.

Mobile technology is a small business powerhouse in Michigan. Details Monday on the Business Next audio seminar!

Michael Rogers talks with Linda Daichendt of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan and Carlo Longino of the Wireless Industry Partnership about the July 30-31 Mobile Moves Michigan conference in Detroit. Also on Monday's show, more interviews with small business owners who exhibited at the  July 19 Farmers Market at the Capitol event at the State Capitol in Lansing.

Listen Monday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 
Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.   

SBAM on President Obama: "Yet another example of his mistrust of free enterprise."

SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler:

It would be charitable to agree with President Obama’s defenders that his July 13 statement “If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that…somebody else made that happen” was exaggerated rhetoric taken out-of-context from a campaign speech. But the truth is that the President’s remarks are not a one-off verbal gaffe. They are yet another example of his mistrust of free enterprise and his fundamental lack of understanding about who is really responsible for creating successful small businesses and job growth.

I agree with what the President said in his speech about there being many critical parts that go into making a small business successful, including access to taxpayer-financed infrastructure like roads, bridges and the Internet. But when the president says “Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”, he’s showing once again his lack of knowledge about the importance of the small firms that grasped the untapped potential of the Internet and built great successful companies (yes, companies like Google and Amazon were once small businesses.)

Yes, small businesses are assisted by taxpayer-finance infrastructure, but on the flip side, the President fails to understand and acknowledge the unfair federal regulatory burden small business faces despite our well-documented and highly important role in the U.S. economy. What small business needs is a level playing field—something any serious politician ought to be working toward. Among the challenges facing America’s small businesses—challenges that land squarely in the small-business owner’s lap alone—is the fact that firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 36 percent more per employee to comply with federal regulations ($10,585 per employee per year) than do larger firms.
During the height of The Great Recession (from 2007 to 2010) employer establishment births dropped 12 percent, and the business startup rate fell below eight percent (of new firms as a percentage of all firms) in 2010, marking its lowest point on record. According to the World Bank, the U.S. ranks fourth in ease of doing business, but just 13th in terms of starting a business. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong here.

The President, like every politician I’ve ever met, claims to support small business. But small business owners, not politicians, get to decide who is really a small business supporter. And the President’s policies (from Obamacare to his proposals to boost taxes on small business job creators) makes it clear to us his disdain for the importance of small entrepreneurs in this country.

President Obama could learn something from the example being set here in Michigan by Gov. Snyder. Under his leadership, the state has enacted business tax reform and aggressively sought to lower the regulatory burden on small businesses. These positive incentives have encouraged entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and fill thousands of jobs – over 8,000 so far this year (documented at

Small businesses are leading the way in propelling a new economic direction for Michigan. They are creating jobs and building sustainable communities. I don’t think any entrepreneur would claim that he or she “did it alone,” but to imply that somebody else made it happen shortchanges the huge risks—financial, time and emotional—unique to entrepreneurs on a daily basis.

How entrepreneurs find success selling at farm markets. Today on the free Business Next audio seminar

SBAM’s Vice President Communications Michael Rogers has interviews from the Farmers Market at the Capitol, July 19 at the State Capitol in Lansing. He talks with Emily Beautle, communications manager for the Michigan Farmers Market Association, and Julie Darnton, vice president of the board of the Association; Margo Roth, owner of JEM Fruit; Tracey Sferlazza-Macioce, owner of Tracina’s Gourmet Specialties;  Brian Droscha, owner of Droscha Sugarbush; Will Branch, co-owner of Corridor Sausage Company and Randall Fogelman, president of Detroit Spice Company.

Listen Friday at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the Michigan Business NetworkSBAM members can log in and listen to archived programs anytime on a PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.