Gubernatorial candidates confirmed for June 24 SBAM Annual Meeting & Networking Luncheon

Five major gubernatorial candidates – Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Attorney General Mike Cox, Congressman Pete Hoekstra and businessman Rick Snyder – will appear onstage at the Small Business Association of Michigan’s (SBAM) annual meeting in East Lansing on June 24 to present their visions for growing the business economy and returning the state to prosperity.

The annual meeting will be take place 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center. Tickets may be purchased online here or by calling (800) 362-5461.

“SBAM is dedicated to propelling a new economic direction for Michigan, a direction that recognizes that home grown companies are today’s job creators,” says SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler. “We will be anxious to hear what these gubernatorial candidates will have to say about how they will support the entrepreneurs who will lead Michigan’s economic turnaround.”

In addition to the presentations by the gubernatorial candidates, SBAM’s Annual Meeting & Networking luncheon will include the introduction of the small business owners who will be SBAM’s 2010-2011 officers and board of directors. SBAM will also present its Legislator of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Communicator of the Year awards.


Who cares about the slow economy! Innovative Michigan companies launch new products and services

From emission reducing carburetors to custom wine cellars to energy-efficient pet doors, dozens of Michigan small businesses displayed their innovative energy by launching new products and services and entering them in the 2010 Innovation Awards contest.


The contest is sponsored by SBAM and the Michigan Small Business Technology Development Centers. To be eligible, a product or service must have been developed and earned revenue during the past three years.


The winner, recognized April 29 in Lansing at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event, was ElectroJet of Brighton’s Electronic Fuel Injection systems for non-automotive applications including motorcycles and scooters.


The other two finalists in the contest were:


  • ERT System LLC, Ann Arbor, for their OnSite ERT system for tracking personnel and equipment at emergency events.
  •, East Lansing, for their electronically delivered gift cards product.

Other companies that launched new products or services and entered the Innovation Awards contest were:


Round-Up of Legislative News: April 24 - 30

House Passes Its Version of Early Retirement Bills
SBAM Lends Support to Microenterprise Fund
Election 2010


House Passes Its Version of Early Retirement Bills

On Tuesday, the State House passed its version of early retirement bills for school employees in the state.  The Senate then sent the bills to a Conference Committee where the differences between the two bills will be ironed out. 

Throughout the week the lead negotiators on the bills have been meeting to come to agreement.  The House bills have more first year savings, but less in the long term than the Senate.

The Governor had hoped that the proposal would be complete by this week, so that teachers could make their decisions and schools could plan accordingly.  House and Senate leaders are expected to meet over the weekend in the hopes of coming to some agreement.

If the bills pass, this would be the first major reform bill to be enacted this year.  The House did not move the bill dealing with state employees.  That bill does not face the same time constraints as the bill for school employees.

Stay tuned.

SBAM Lends Support to Microenterprise Fund

SBAM expressed its support for a package of bills before the House Banking and Financial Services Committee that would assist our smallest business owners in getting needed loans.

The Microenterprise Fund would provide loans and grants to community-based microenterprise development organizations which in turn would provide loans to small businesses.  These organizations assist entrepreneurs with business training and technical assistance for those starting or growing their businesses.

The maximum loans under the bills would be $35,000, but no more than half can exceed $10,000.  Microenterprise businesses are generally those with five employees or fewer and include home-based businesses.

SBAM believes that this fund will help many business owners that cannot get lending through traditional sources.

The committee passed the bills and they now move on to the full House.

Election 2010

The latest poll is out in the gubernatorial races.  Congressman Pete Hoekstra leads the Republican field and Hose Speaker Andy Dillon leads on the Democratic side.

The poll was conducted by Rasmussen Reports.  It shows Hoekstra with 28 percent support, Ann Arbor business executive Rick Snyder with 14%, Attorney General Mike Cox with 13 percent , and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard with 9 percent.  32 percent remain undecided.

On the Democratic side, Dillon had 13%, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero with 12% and State Representative Alma Wheeler Smith with 8 percent .  53 percent of respondents are still undecided, while 17 percent want another candidate to get in the field.

In that vein, there has been some talk of controversial attorney and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Feiger getting into the race.  Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.  If he did get in the race he would only have until May 11 to collect the signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Small Businesses Honored April 29 in Lansing at Michigan Celebrates Small Business

(In photo, SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler with Innovation Award winner Kyle Schwulst of ElectroJet)


Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB), the state’s premier awards event celebrating small business excellence and the importance of small business success to Michigan’s economy, was held April 29th at the Lansing Center.

“Michigan Celebrates Small Business fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in Michigan,” says Carol Lopucki – State Director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. “The event is an opportunity to celebrate the success of small business in Michigan by highlighting over 60 small businesses that have helped build Michigan’s economy in 2009.”

Well-known green energy entrepreneur Maria Thompson, President and CEO of T/J Technologies, Inc., a nationally recognized Michigan company for proprietary alternative energy technologies, was the keynote speaker.

Five founders that support and celebrate entrepreneurialism in Michigan banded together in 2005 to create Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the state's premier awards ceremony for entrepreneurs and small business leaders. The event’s founders are the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan, the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event were PNC, Clark Hill PLC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, Comcast Business Class/Comcast Spotlight and Dynamic Edge Inc.

Media partners for Michigan Celebrates Small Business were MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News, Michigan Radio,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.

About the Winners

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

“Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” (download list here) is an awards program sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

“Now 300 strong, the second-stage businesses that comprise the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch have not only persevered through challenging times, but also found opportunities to grow,” says Penny Lewandowski, director of entrepreneurship development at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “They continue to hire and develop new markets for their products and services. Some have attracted significant amounts of venture capital, while others have been awarded prestigious federal grants. They are making a substantial difference in their communities — and their industries. Our 2010 inductees are proof that entrepreneurs are, and always have been, the future of Michigan’s economy.”

Companies nominated for the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list must be second-stage companies, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

Winners were selected by judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities. Judges evaluated the nominees’ demonstrated intent and capacity to grow based on one or more of the following:

• Employee or sales growth.
• Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership.
• Sustainable competitive advantage.
• Other notable factors that sh

Round-Up of Legislative News

SBAM Member Testifies in Support of Ban on Unionization of Business Owners

Early Retirement Bills Still on House Floor

Election 2010


SBAM Member Testifies in Support of Ban on Unionization of Business Owners

This week SBAM Board member Jerry Grubb, owner of Wee Discover Child Daycare and Learning Center in Waterford, testified in support of SBs 1173, 1178, and 1179.

The bills would make it clear that daycare owners and home healthcare workers who own their businesses are not public employees and therefore cannot be unionized and have dues withheld from subsidies that they receive from the state.  The state provides the subsidy checks to the daycare providers to assist low-income parents with the costs of child care.

This issue has received a great deal of local and national media attention because most people are shocked to learn that independent business owners could be part of a union.  

Grubb made the point that this could set a horrible precedent for other businesses that receive payments from the state.

Two of the bills were reported from the Senate Families and Human Services Committee and now move to the full Senate.


Early Retirement Bills Still on House Floor

The early retirement package that was announced by the Governor earlier this year and passed by the Senate last week still awaits action in the House.

The bills provide for early retirement provisions for both school and state employees.  Gov. Granholm has asked that the legislature complete the bills by the end of the month so that schools can plan accordingly for the next school year.  

The House has made changes to the Senate bill and is expected to take up its version next week.  Depending on which version is passed, estimated savings are between $225 million and $735 million in the first year and nearly $3 billion over the next 10 years.

The employee unions oppose the Senate version and it remains to be seen whether they support the House version.  The plan is an important component of the reform agenda that SBAM is supporting to deal with the state’s budget.


Election 2010

The Michigan Democratic Party held an early endorsement convention last weekend in which their likely candidates for Attorney General and Secretary of State were determined.

Unlike most elected offices that use primaries to determine who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be for the general election, nominees for the offices of Attorney General and Secretary of State (and a few others) are chosen by the respective state parties.

The nominating conventions for both parties are held in August.  This year the State Democratic Party instituted an early endorsement convention.  The Democrats have not held the Attorney General’s office for 8 years or the Secretary of State’s for 16.  They felt that they wanted to have their potential nominees announced earlier so that they can begin their general election campaigns in the spring instead of late summer.  

While the winners of last weekend’s convention will still not be officially nominated until August, it is expected that they will be the nominees.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton narrowly defeated attorney and Wayne State University Trustee Richard Bernstien to gain the Attorney General endorsement.  In the Secretary of State race, Jocelyn Benson, a Wayne State University election law professor easily defeated Wayne County Clerk Janice Winfrey.

The Republican candidates will still be

(Audio) Small Business Champion podcast: Small business owner testifies on forced unionization of home childcare providers (4:21)

SBAM leader and small business owner Jerry Grubb, owner of Wee Discover Childcare and Learning Center, talks with Michael Rogers about the legislative effort to overturn the forced unionization of home childcare providers. Grubb explains that the forced unionization has serious implications for any small business owner that directly or indirectly accepts state money. Click here to listen!


What do you think of this issue? Leave a comment below, use the social networking links to forward to your friends, and engage in the discussion in our Forum.



Still Time to Get Tickets to Michigan Celebrates Small Business Event

Michigan’s outstanding, award-winning small businesses will be honored April 29 at the Lansing Center as the state’s major business organizations and agencies collaborate for the sixth annual “Michigan Celebrates Small Business” event. Tickets are still available at but interested attendees should act quickly before tickets are sold out.

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a cooperative effort of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Edward Lowe Foundation, Small Business Association of Michigan and the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan.
Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event are PNC, Clark Hill PLC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund, Dynamic Edge Inc, Comcast Business Class and Comcast Spotlight.

“Michigan’s economy is built on a strong foundation of innovation and hard working people,” says David Morrison, Southeast Michigan Business Banking Market Manger with PNC. “Michigan Celebrates Small Business seeks to acknowledge the best and brightest of small business leadership in Michigan. As a premier lender to Michigan small businesses, PNC recognizes the importance of small businesses and is committed to their business success.”

Media partners for Michigan Celebrates Small Business are MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News, Michigan Radio,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.


Michigan's Smoke Free Air Law

On May 1, 2010, the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law will go into effect, prohibiting smoking in all Michigan businesses.

Take a few moments to find out how this law impacts your business and what steps you may need to take to be compliant.  Visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website for detailed information about the law, exemptions allowed, frequently asked questions, tools for businesses to prepare for the law, and tobacco dependence treatment information for business and citizens. Starting May 1, the website will also house information on how to report a violation of the law.

Or, call 1-866-59-SMOKE if you prefer to speak to someone about Michigan's new Smoke Free Air Law.

Round-Up of Legislative News

Early Retirement Bills Move in the Senate

Senate Panel Moves Public Employee Health Reform Bill

Congress Should Act on Estate Tax Reform


Early Retirement Bills Move in the Senate

A revised version of the Governor’s early retirement package for state and public school employees recently cleared the State Senate on an almost party-line vote.

Sen. Mickey Switalski was the lone Democrat to cross the aisle to support the Senate Republican version of the plan.  As written, it is estimated that the package would save over $225 million in next year’s state budget.  (It should also be noted that Sen. Switalski was the only Democrat to vote to reject the state employees 3 percent wage increase.)

Although the Senate bills deliver less savings than what was originally proposed by Gov. Granholm, the ten year forecast estimates nearly $3 billion in savings.  The Senate Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, and Sen. Switalski should be applauded for taking action on this important step to deliver cost saving reforms.

It is still unclear if the State House will take up the Senate bills or similar bills in their own chamber.  We are encouraged by this latest development and will continue to push this plan and other reform efforts.

Senate Panel Moves Public Employee Health Reform Bill

Also this week, a Senate committee moved bills that would require public employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance bill.

The bills would bring public employees more in line with what private sector employees pay for their health insurance.  (Currently public employees pay less than 10 percent of their insurance costs.) 

It still remains to be seen what will happen on the Senate floor.  Like the state employee pay raise issue last month, one of the bills requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

SBAM testified in support of the bills last month and we will continue our efforts to support passage.

Congress Should Act on Estate Tax Reform

Now that health-care reform is complete, Congress needs to turn its attention to estate tax reform.

If Congress does not act, the estate tax—which is now repealed because lawmakers could not reach a policy agreement last year—reverts back to its 2001 levels in 2011—with a top tax rate of 55 percent and a $1 million exemption. This is more restrictive than the solution most Democrats support, which would keep the 2009 rate of 45 percent and exemption amount of $3.5 million.

There is also a proposal that would permanently raise the exemption to $5 million and set the top tax rate at 35 percent, with the exemption indexed to inflation.  While SBAM prefers a repeal of the estate tax, the proposals that are out there will certainly be better for small business owners and their heirs than if Congress fails to act.

We will keep you updated on this important issue.