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

Small business endorsements for the Aug. 7 primary. Today on Business Next!

Today on Business Next, Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Director of Government Relations Dave Jessup about the association’s Small Biz PAC endorsements for the Aug. 7 primary election. Also on Friday’s show, reports live from the Crain’s Detroit Business Salute to Entrepreneurs event in Detroit: Michael interviews Manoj Bhargava, founder of 5- Hour Energy Drink, Yan Ness, CEO of Online Tech, about small businesses helping Ann Arbor bounce back from the impact of a huge firm leaving the area, and the small business benefits of cloud computing; Fred Beal, president of JC Beal Construction Inc., one of the winners in the Salute to Entrepreneurs program and Mike Callis, managing partner with Marketplace Homes, a finalist in the recognition program.

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.   

Hear inspiring words from House Speaker Jase Bolger at SBAM's annual meeting. Monday on Business Next!

Excerpts of the keynote address delivered by House Speaker Jase Bolger at the Small Business Association of Michigan annual meeting in Lansing on June 21. Also from the annual meeting, Yan Ness, CEO of Online Tech of Ann Arbor, speaks about the growing power of the small business community; and David Rhoa, owner of Lake Michigan Mailers in Kalamazoo, talks about how small business owners can get engaged and effect political change.

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

Steven Strauss: CGI

Question: When I watch these so-called “civil servants” in Washington talk about the economy and creating jobs and whose fault it is and so on, I am reminded of that old joke – everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. So what I am wondering is, is there really anything that can be done in this negative political climate?

(Part 1 of 2)

Answer: It is a valid question and one I think a lot of people are asking these days. When politicians put their own re-election, or the defeat of the other party, above the good of the country, it is downright unpatriotic. But a scolding from me, or you, won’t make a whit of difference. Politicians follow the money, and these days, the money is in the far wings of both parties.

But I am happy to report that there is good news. This country is made up of a lot of dynamic, creative, intelligent, committed people who are taking it upon themselves to fix some of our most pressing problems.  They are not waiting for anyone else to do it, nor are they waiting for permission to act. These folks are taking it upon themselves to act on their own initiative. Now that is what I call being a true American.

So in this column and the next one, I would like to highlight two groups doing that.

This week, I was privileged to get to attend the Clinton Global Initiative America in Chicago. As you likely know, the CGI is the focus of president Clinton’s post-presidential career. It is an amazing organization that brings together “global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

CGI America is a little different than its parent organization in that it is specifically designed to bring together business, government and other leaders to “implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States.”

The key words in that phrase is, “implement commitments.” That is what is unique, special, and different about CGI. I attend a lot of these sorts of conferences and many follow a similar pattern: Participants identify a problem, brainstorm solutions, share those solutions, and then go home. Nothing changes.

Not so at CGI. What I learned is that it is called the Clinton Global Initiative for a reason. It is all about taking initiative. At CGI, participants are encouraged to make a commitment for how they will make a difference in the world after the event is over.

These commitments are serious business.

The CGI commitment form is about seven pages long. In it, you state what your commitment is, how you will go about implementing it, what your timelines and benchmarks will be, and so forth. It is then submitted to CGI, they post it online, and then follow up with you over the course of the next year to see how you are implementing your commitment.

Like I said, it’s about action, not talk.

Here are a few of the commitments for improving our economy and jobs outlook that came out of CGI America this week:
  • Jalia Ventures and the United Negro College Fund committed to launching a venture competition that would promote the development of minority-owned businesses. The partnership committed to raising $3.5 million over two years to expose historically black college and university students to social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and to provide select entrepreneurs with seed financing and technical assistance.
  • The Criterion Institute committed to assembling 1,000 churches by 2018 to use micro-lending to invest in micro-businesses. According to the Institute, this will produce $100 million of new investment capital for American micro-businesses in a five year period.
  • Youth Radio committed to connecting at least 60 low-income young adults to jobs in the technology and digital media industry.

SBAM part of coalition that files challenge to radical proposed rewrite of State Constitution

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), a diverse group of job creators, taxpayers and organizations on June 21 asked Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to reject the petition filed last week by Lansing special interests to rewrite the Michigan Constitution for personal and financial gain.

“CPMC opposes the rewrite of the Michigan Constitution and the repeal of dozens of unidentified laws,” stated Gary Gordon, an attorney with Dykema Gossett PLLC, who filed the letter asking the Department for immediate action on the union-orchestrated ballot initiative.

In 2008, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution successfully blocked an attempt by special interests to radically change the Michigan Constitution and have come together again to fight the latest attempt to mislead voters and overhaul the Constitution.

“The organizers of this deceptive initiative proudly state that it would repeal 80 laws, a fact not shared with Michigan voters in the petition language,” said Rob Fowler, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “This petition undoes a lot of the good work business owners, workers and policymakers across Michigan have achieved in recent months in positioning our entire state for its economic comeback.”

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution is a committee supported by a growing and diverse group of job makers, taxpayers, individuals, local chambers of commerce and other organizations. CPMC is committed to educating Michigan families about unprecedented attempts to radically overhaul the state’s constitution through as many as fourteen new, misleading ballot initiatives.

SBAM honors legislative leader, introduces new officers and board members at 43rd SBAM Annual Meeting in Lansing

The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) at its June 21 annual meeting and networking luncheon presented its Legislator of the Year award to Rep. Jeff Farrington. “Representative Farrington is yet another example of a small business owner who brought business expertise and entrepreneurial creativity to state government in an effort to effect positive change,” said SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler. “He is a key member of the leadership team that has worked with Gov. Snyder to reinvent our state.” 

Richard B. Sanford, who founded SBAM in 1969, was presented with the inaugural Lifetime of Advocacy Award. “Dick Sanford had the foresight to understand the untapped potential for small business owners to organize and have a significant impact on the political life of this state,” said Fowler. “The fruits of his efforts are on full display today, 43 years later, with the Small Business Association of Michigan recognized as one of the most influential and prestigious business organizations in the country.”

Paul Schutt, an owner and partner in Issue Media Group, was honored as Communicator of the Year. “Paul and Issue Media Group are literally changing the narrative in Michigan about business growth and the places they impact,” Fowler said.

David Rhoa, president and co-owner of Lake Michigan Mailers of Kalamazoo, was introduced as SBAM’s 2012-2013 Chair. Also introduced were Vice Chair Bob Fish - BIGGBY COFFEE, Lansing; Second Vice Chair Bonnie Alfonso - Alfie - Logo Gear for Work & Play, Traverse City; Secretary Guy Richardson - Advance Employment, Lansing; Treasurer Jerry Grubb – Wee Discover Child Daycare & Learning Center, Waterford and Immediate Past Chair, Yan Ness, Online Tech, Ann Arbor.

Newly named to the SBAM Board of Directors for three-year terms were Doyle Hayes – dhayes Group, Grand Rapids; Russ Knopp – Comfort Keepers, Traverse City; Bill Kimble – C2AE, Lansing; Paul Santoro – Anesthesia Staffing Consultants, Franklin; and Vince Thomas – Billhighway, Troy.

Michigan residents understand vital role of entrepreneurs

Almost nine in 10 Michigan residents view entrepreneurship as a critical piece of the state’s economic future, and most believe children should be learning about it as a career option by middle school, a statewide poll released today say.

Some 88 percent of those polled agree that entrepreneurship is essential or very important for the state’s economic well-being. That includes strong support among Republicans and Democrats, men and women, young and old, and residents in every region of the state.

The poll was commissioned by the Michigan Sense of Place Council, a public-private collaborative that supports development of communities with a quality of life where people want to work, live, and operate businesses.

“Our poll shows that after a decade of economic turmoil, Michigan residents see that our future is in our own hands. They understand that workers can no longer count on someone else to sign their paycheck. They see entrepreneurship as a legitimate career path," said Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan and chair of the Council’s entrepreneurship committee. 

The poll is the first in a series aimed at gauging the degree to which Michigan residents embrace an entrepreneurial culture. Fowler said the support is probably much higher than a decade ago, when many residents were trying to hold on to good-paying factory jobs that supported middle-class lifestyles.

Key findings of the poll include:

• Some 92 percent of residents believe that educational institutions should teach entrepreneurial and small business skills. Fifty-eight percent said the education should begin at least by middle school or junior high school. Eighty-five percent agree that young people should consider launching their own businesses as a legitimate career alternative to working for someone else. Nearly as many, 82 percent, said they would advise their own children to start their own venture.
• More than four in five residents (82 percent) believe that locally owned businesses contribute more to the overall welfare of a community than national or international businesses.
• A slight majority (51 percent) disagree with the idea that people who work for large corporations have less risk of losing their livelihood than those who own their own businesses or work in small businesses.
• Residents were less confident in the retirement security of small business owners compared with those who work for large companies. Forty-two percent said the small business owners were less likely to be secure in retirement, compared with 18 percent who said they were likely to be more comfortable.

The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted by the EPIC-MRA polling firm between June 1 and June 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. 

The Sense of Place Council has been a leader in promoting efforts to build communities that encourage and support entrepreneurial activities as a means of attracting talented workers and entrepreneurs who can successfully compete in the global marketplace.

A recent survey by the Council found that entrepreneurial opportunities have expanded dramatically on public university campuses across the state. K-12 schools have a similar responsibility, said Fowler. “Our universities are now engaged in trying to change the culture and helping students understand that starting their own company is an option. It’s clear that the K-12 schools have a critical role as well and need to weave entrepreneurship into the fabric of our children’s education.”

Entrepreneurship has received increased focus as a strategy for building a strong economy in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder has emphasized it since taking office in 2011, and it was the topic of a forum for the state’s movers and shakers at the recent Mackinac Policy Conference sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

SBAM opposes 25 percent Renewable Energy Constitutional Mandate

SBAM strongly opposes the proposed ballot initiative mandating that Michigan energy providers produce at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, association officials announced today. 

The proposal would lock the 25 percent renewable standard into the state’s constitution, which means it would have to be implemented regardless of the cost to Michigan residents and businesses.

“Putting energy policy into our state constitution would be reckless and dangerous for our state’s energy future,” said Rob Fowler, SBAM's president and CEO. “Michigan is making good progress toward reaching the current 10 percent renewable energy standard, and any changes should wait until the current standard has been fully evaluated. This proposal is bad public policy that would cost billions. We encourage voters to reject it.” 

In 2008 the Michigan Legislature passed a comprehensive energy policy with overwhelming bipartisan support. These landmark bills (Public Acts 286 and 295) were crafted so that each component worked to ensure safe, reliable and affordable electric service for Michigan families and businesses. Public Act 295 included a goal for Michigan to generate 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass by 2015.

Gov. Snyder talks about the virtues of economic gardening. Today on Business Next!

Hear excerpts of Gov. Snyder’s keynote address and question and answer session at the National Economic Gardening Conference held recently in Grand Rapids. Gov. Snyder talks about the comeback of Michigan being based on nurturing existing state companies, and he talks about cultivating a more supportive regulatory attitude as a way to support economic gardening. Also on today's show, Kent Casella, Michigan State University communications expert, talks about crisis communications basics for small business owners.

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