SBAM health insurance expert quoted in Crain’s Detroit Business

In the Aug. 24 edition of Crain’s Detroit Business (subscription required), SBAM’s Vice President Small Business Services Scott Lyon said that SBAM opposes the “pay or play” employer mandate that is contained in most of the federal health insurance reform bills. Excerpt:


Scott Lyon, SBAM's vice president of small-business services, said his group favors an individual mandate for people to purchase their own health insurance.
But Lyon said the rising of health insurance premiums is the main problem for small companies.
“The first, second and third problem with health care is cost. Our average member is spending $8,300 per employee, per year, on health insurance,” said Lyon. “Everyone has their own picture in mind to address the uninsured. There are about 12 million who can't afford insurance, but we believe most are uninsured because it costs too much.”


SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler quoted in "Business groups target the MBT" article

An article in the Aug. 19 Business Review West Michigan says "As legislators grapple yet again with the state's fiscal crisis, business groups are quietly laying the groundwork for possibly changing Michigan's tax structure."
"It's a way to reposition Michigan," Small Business Association of Michigan CEO Rob Fowler said. Led by Detroit Renaissance, business groups involved in the talks that have been ongoing since the spring are trying to build consensus among themselves on tax reform -- an endeavor that even participants in the meetings say is difficult -- because they view the present political leadership as unable to tackle the issue. "If we cannot come together and cast a vision about a new, more competitive Michigan, then who's going to do it?" Fowler said. "We must do it."


The Small Business Champion Podcast: Make Your Voice Heard on Federal Health Care Reform (6:47)

This week, SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Vice President Government Relations Dave Palsrok about making your voice heard in the debate over federal health care reform. Click here to listen. The weekly Small Business Champion podcast is the place where you can get the scoop on what’s really happening in Lansing and Washington, D.C., and what it means to your bottom line.
(Music by DJ Dolores.)


SBAM Endorses Mike Nofs For 19th District Senate Seat

SBAM's Small Biz PAC has endorsed Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) in the primary race for the 19th State Senate seat.

“We are pleased to endorse Mike Nofs in this important Senate seat.  He understands the problems and challenges that entrepreneurs face. He will bring his experience to the State Senate and represent the interests of small businesses. He’s been an elected official who supports the small business community when it matters and he will help Michigan’s small businesses create the jobs our state so desperately needs,” said Rob Fowler President and CEO of SBAM.

Mike Nofs has pledged that job creation in Michigan will be his number one priority.  “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Small Business Association of Michigan.  Small businesses are the backbone of Michigan’s economy and the key to our economic revival,” said Nofs.


SBAM member Oneupweb sets out on tour of state to help Michigan businesses

Be relentless. It’s a simple sentence, one that is spoken inside Michigan-based digital marketing agency Oneupweb’s global headquarters daily. And now, it’s that attitude that they will take on the road, embarking on a 5-day tour of the state in a 1970s motor home. The goal: to help Michigan businesses makeover their online marketing plans.
“We live and work in Michigan, and we happen to like it. But large or small, every business owner in the state is facing tough times right now,” explains Oneupweb CEO and Founder Lisa Wehr. “We wanted to do our part, and help Michigan business owners continue to work and operate here. And that’s when we came up with One for the Road.”
Wehr explains that in order to help Michigan businesses, Oneupweb is going to drive right to them. And they’ll be offering their nationally recognized online marketing consultation services to Michigan businesses–for free.
“We’re going to be making stops throughout Michigan, inviting businesses to meet with us for free online marketing consultation and advice,” says Wehr.
She goes on to note that those who do join Oneupweb on their road tour will be given real help, the kind of help that translates into something a business owner can take back to their office that day and turn into sales.
Oneupweb’s stops include:
  • August 18, Ann Arbor, Gallup Park
  • August 19, Lansing, Sharp Park
  • August 20, Grand Rapids, John Ball Park
  • August 21, Traverse City, Oneupweb Global Headquarters
“We’ll be there from 11am until 6pm,” says Wehr.
And the help doesn’t end there. In an effort to unite Michigan businesses, Oneupweb will be collecting business cards at the various stops to create a new, free Michigan Business Directory. The directory, Network Michigan, will be posted online.
For those companies that are unable to meet with Oneupweb, a hotline has been setup. By calling 1-877-833-0667, you can reach Oneupweb for help and advice.
“It’s time to chart a new course, one that takes us back to our roots as a prosperous state filled with smiling faces, hard workers and a love for our natural surroundings. To get back to that state, we’re committed to helping businesses advance their online marketing plans, despite size of budgets,” says Wehr. “We’re not going anywhere, and we want to make sure no other business has to, either. And we’re relentless about that commitment.”
To find out more about the One for the Road tour, visit
You can also follow the entire Michigan trip on Oneupweb’s Facebook (, YouTube (, Flickr ( and Twitter ( profiles.

Please Take a Few Minutes to Help Stop Proposals That Would Cost Small Biz Big Time!

Contact Elected Officials on Harmful Business Proposals

Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, last week proposed several new ballot initiatives that will increase the cost of running your business. Since then, business groups across the state have spoken out against the anti-business ideas. However, we have heard very little reaction from elected officials.
We are urging you to contact your elected officials and ask them what they think about Mark Brewer’s plans to further harm our struggling economy.
Here are the most outrageous of the proposals:
  • Mandating all employers to provide health care for their employees and dependents or pay a penalty.
  • Raise the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10/hour and cover all workers with no exceptions.
  • Increasing unemployment benefits by $100/week, making all workers eligible and adding six months to the time someone can receive benefits.
Get more details by listening to these two audio podcasts we did on the proposals.

Do these proposals make you hopping mad? Here's what you can do:


Employers see value in workplace wellness programs

Perks matter, according to a new Health2Resources’ survey of workplace wellness incentive programs. Of the 372 small, medium and large companies surveyed, 64% use incentives for some kind of employee health, wellness or disease-management program, and “83% of those who have measured [return on investment] say the programs return a better than 1:1 return.” Employees are spending an average of $329 this year, up from $204 in 2008, to help keep workers fit. The most commonly used incentives are premium reductions, followed by merchandise discounts and gift cards. “The use of incentives in today’s health and wellness programs is almost uniformly believed among employers of all sizes to boost program success and return value,” says the report.


August Deadline for Health Care Reform Slipping

The National Small Business Association (NSBA), SBAM’s national affiliate, reports that with health care reform deliberations stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the delayed release of a Senate Finance Committee bill, President Obama, along with House and Senate Democrat leaders, has recently acknowledged the slim probability that health care reform legislation will pass each chamber before the targeted August recess.
As previously reported, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and two out of three House Committees have passed their versions of health care reform legislation. Meanwhile, conservative democrats in the House who are part of The Blue Dog Coalition have raised concerns with several provisions in the House bill, including provisions that have a profound impact on small businesses. The Senate Finance Committee is still mulling details of their bill before they schedule a mark-up, which they hope to do before their August 7 target adjournment.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) recently noted that the July 31 target adjournment and goal to pass health care reform legislation for the House of Representatives is getting more difficult since the Energy and Commerce Committee has not reported a bill. Hoyer has promised the caucus 48 hours to review the bill before a floor vote; thus, theoretically the Energy and Commerce Committee will have to finish their mark-up by COB July 29 for a vote to take place on July 31. House Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Hoyer suggested they could stay into August for a floor vote if they felt there was a possibility of getting consensus on the Energy and Commerce Committee to move forward soon.
NSBA has made a strong advocacy push with the Blue Dog Coalition since several of their concerns with the House bill pertain to the impact it would have on small business. Click here to read NSBA’s recent letter sent to The Blue Dog Coalition. In addition, if your member of Congress is part of the Blue Dog Coalition, use NSBA’s Legislative Action Center to contact their office to show your support for their efforts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) also recently acknowledged the unlikelihood that the Finance Committee would mark-up a bill and have it reconciled with the Senate HELP bill and ready for a Senate floor vote prior to August 7.
Despite the delay in producing a proposal, the Senate Finance Committee has continued to offer the greatest hope of a bipartisan health care reform proposal. However, efforts to avoid capping the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance have caused delays for the Committee in finding cost-containment measures and off-sets. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) recently proposed taxing health insurance companies who offer high-cost benefit plans, also known as “Cadillac” plans, to encourage more consumer behavior and reduce the cost of health care reform. NSBA recently sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee members in support on capping the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance and raising significant concerns with Sen. Kerry’s proposal. Click here to view the letter.
While NSBA and other health care reform proponents continue to advocate with members of Congress, small business owners should be weighing in with their elected officials. The August recess will provide a great opportunity to discuss your concerns with members of Congress.


Senate Passes SBIR CR as Conferees Meet

The U.S. Senate passed July 24 a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would temporarily reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program through September 30. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to follow suit this week.
While the CR was being approved, Senate and House conferees were busy trying to hammer out a legislative compromise between the disparate bills approved by the two bodies. (For more on the differences between the two reauthorization bills, click here.
While it appears that staffers for the House Committees on Small Business and Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship are engaged in goodwill negotiations, at this time it is unclear if/when a compromise will be reached—and what it might look like. The CR allows the negotiations to continue without the looming authorization expiration.
This week, a bipartisan group of more than 25 representatives, led by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), wrote a letter to the conferees, urging them to adopt a compromise more in keeping with the Senate bill.