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2012 Will Be a Breakout Year for Small Business, and a Great Year for Michigan

growth(By Rob Fowler, SBAM President and CEO. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

I’m feeling more upbeat about Michigan’s economic future than I’ve been in a decade. The blocks are coming together to create a foundation of dynamism and job growth, and entrepreneurs are going to lead the way.

There are a lot of reasons I have such a positive outlook. SBAM’s semi-annual Barometer survey of 600 small business owners in October found that 86 percent of small business owners say their business outlook for the next six months is good or somewhat good. They are anticipating the enactment and energizing impact of business tax reform on January 1 and a fair percentage of them say they are already planning to hire more workers. I also talk every day with entrepreneurs, and I’m amazed at the number of them who tell me that, because they’ve spent the last few years getting their operations lean, mean and efficient, they are now thriving and looking forward to expansion and job growth.

Their optimism is being driven by a number of factors. First of all, the business tax reform I noted above is a jolt of energy aimed directly at the small, family-owned businesses in your town. Despite what you may have heard, the new, simplified Michigan Business Tax does little or nothing for big business, or big banks or “big oil.” Instead, it puts more money in the hands of entrepreneurs who will use this tax savings to invest in their operations, their workforce and their communities. 

Secondly, small businesses recognize that they finally have strong allies in the governor’s office, the state House and the state Senate who understand entrepreneurs and are willing to make the tough votes that support small business job creation. Small business owners have elected men and women who have proven they are friends of small business. These lawmakers have demonstrated their vision of a better Michigan by simplifying our tax structure, working for a common sense regulatory environment and supporting “economic gardening” that builds home-grown small businesses and employment. 

Challenges remain. Chief among them is that there are still some legislators who claim they are “friends” of small business at the same time they propose polices that would crush entrepreneurship. But guess what? Small business owners are the ones who decide who their friends are. SBAM, as their association, holds policymakers to a high standard if they want to be known and recognized as friends of small business. We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring votes and telling lawmakers’ constituents when we approve or disapprove of their representatives’ actions.

2012 is going to be a great year for small business and a great year for Michigan. Entrepreneurs are going to be stepping on the accelerator and getting their business operations into high gear. They are going to be hiring more workers --- one, two, a half dozen at a time – and those numbers will be multiplied across thousands of small employers in every corner of the state. It’s important now to stay the course on policies and taxes and trust that small business owners, the men and women who are your neighbors, will take the tools in hand and finish the job of reinventing our state. 

(What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Rob's prognosis for Michigan? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.)
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