What you don’t know could be bad for your health (insurance). Learn about and discuss federal health insurance reform proposals online Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m. with SBAM expert Scott Lyon

Proposals under consideration in Congress could have a dramatic affect on health insurance options for you, your family and your Michigan small business employees. Get updated about the most likely scenarios by tuning in to and participating in this Oct. 29, 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET online audio conversation with Scott Lyon, vice president small business services for the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). Scott is one of the nation’s leading experts on small business health insurance and the current health insurance debate in Washington, D.C.

The discussion will be hosted by SBAM’s Vice President Communications Michael Rogers and conducted on BlogTalkRadio, an online service that lets you listen on your PC, phone-in questions to participate live or join a chat discussion.


Click here for more details.

Small Business Award Nominations Deadline Extended to Nov. 9

The nomination deadline for the sixth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB) recognition program for entrepreneurs and supporters of small business has been extended to Nov. 9. In addition, the application deadline for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch has been extended to Nov. 23. Nomination forms are available now at


Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a cooperative effort of 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.


Award categories are Small Business Person of the Year, Entrepreneurial Success Award, Family-Owned Business of the Year, Small Business Exporter, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Financial Services Champion of the Year, Home-Based Business Champion of the Year, Michigan Small Business Counselor of the Year, Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, Small Business Journalist of the Year, Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year, Women In Business Champion of the Year, The Innovation Award, Main Street USA Best Small Business Award and Government Contracting Award. Nominations for these awards will be accepted through Nov. 9 at


The Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards include Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. This program is sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and each year recognizes and celebrates the contributions, innovation and energy of 50 diverse second-stage companies in Michigan. Nominations are due Nov. 9 and can come from service providers (such as attorneys, bankers, accountants, public relations representatives, economic development offices, etc.) Companies may also self-nominate. Nominees will receive an e-mail with instructions to complete an online application that will be due Nov. 23. Winners will be recognized April 29, 2010, at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event and dinner at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing.


Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business are National City (now a part of PNC), Clark Hill PLC Attorneys at Law, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, IBM and Dynamic Edge Inc.


Media partners are MiBiz, Crain’s Detroit Business, Upper Peninsula Business Today, the Traverse City Business News,, WWJ Newsradio 950 and The Daily Dash, and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.


Small business owners respond to President’s call for small business credit

Responding to President Obama’s announcement today of a new initiative to enhance small businesses’ access to affordable capital, SBAM’s national affiliate The National Small Business Association (NSBA) registered support of the administration’s actions, but urged further action.

“The most critical component for small-business owners as they make their way out of a recession is finding the resources to enable them to grow,” stated NSBA President Todd McCracken. “The initiatives and reforms announced today by the administration will be very helpful to many small businesses, and I applaud their efforts. However, more can and must be done.”

The administration’s new initiative includes increased loan caps for SBA lending programs and an infusion of lower-cost capital to community banks, both steps in the right direction. Critical to its success, however, is the timeliness in which the measures are implemented, as well as assurances that any capital provided to community banks will be used for small-business lending—not simply shoring-up their balance sheets.

Since early in 2008, NSBA has been warning of the dire implications of the credit crunch on small business. Particularly now, as the U.S. economy begins to show a few glimmers of hope, small business access to affordable capital is the lynchpin to a rapid and sustainable economic recovery.

Unfortunately, today’s entrepreneurs are severely limited in their ability to finance new businesses through their historical avenues: leveraging the value of their home, borrowing from friends and family, or getting a traditional loan. Compounding matters, the Federal Reserve reported in its July 2009 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey that banks continue to tighten standards and terms on all major types of loans to businesses, and expect these tightened standards to remain throughout 2010.

“The overwhelming majority of small-business owners surveyed in July by NSBA—80 percent—have been negatively impacted by the credit crunch,” stated NSBA Chair Keith Ashmus, co-founding partner of Frantz Ward LLP, in Cleveland, Ohio. “The time for action is now.”

An outspoken advocate on the issue, NSBA has developed a comprehensive list of short-term and long-term fixes that will help ease capital markets for small businesses. The proposed fixes are the centerpiece of a new NSBA initiative, Credit NOW, Growth Tomorrow, designed to offer solutions and proposals for ensuring the long-term viability of America’s small businesses.

SBAM’s member magazine celebrates five year anniversary

(SBAM Vice President Communications Michael Rogers with cake that features our first magazine cover and our latest.)


“Focus on Small Business”, SBAM’s member-only magazine, celebrates five years of publication this fall. This award winning magazine is chock-full of pertinent, relevant information that helps you better manage your small business. Focus on Small Business is guided by an Editorial Committee of small business owners who provide strategic direction and editorial policy.


We’re always looking for great story ideas and editorial submissions. Contact Michael Rogers.


(Video) Small Business Champion: Keep up the budget pressure

SBAM Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with SBAM’s Vice President Government Relations Dave Palsrok about recent progress on state budget talks at the State Capitol – and the need for small business owners to keep up the pressure on their state lawmakers.

Last Budget Passes Legislature, Issues Remain

Last Thursday, the Senate and the House passed the last of the budgets for the 2009-10 fiscal year.  They passed the School Aid budget by lowering the cut from 2.9% to 2.3%.

With that action, the House and Senate were able to live up to the agreement that Senate Majority Leader Bishop and House Speaker Dillon agreed to when they came up with a plan to balance the budget based on cuts and not tax increases.

Governor Granholm has signed most of the less contentious budgets with few vetoes.  Unlike regular bills, the governor is allowed to strike parts of appropriations bills, if she does not agree with what has been presented to her. 

The remaining budgets should be presented to the Governor next week.  From the start, Governor Granholm has indicated that she does not support the all cuts approach of the legislative leaders.  She has stated that the cuts are too large and there should be some sort of revenue enhancements to stave off some of the cuts.

The Governor is expected to veto perhaps whole sections of the budgets that remain.  However, it should be noted that she cannot add money into the budgets; she can only remove what is there.

We will keep you posted on developments as they unfold before the next budget deadline of October 31. 

Please see other stories related to the budget.

Senate Plan Would Repeal MBT Surcharge

As part of the deal to pass the school aid budget, the Senate also put together a plan to phase out the surcharge on the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) over three years.  The plan has many parts to it is unclear what will happen in the coming weeks.

Recall that the surcharge imposes an additional 22% on a business’s MBT liability.  Since its inception in the fall of 2007, repealing the surcharge has been one of SBAM’s top priorities to get the economy moving again.

The plan also includes another important SBAM priority by increasing and indexing to inflation the officer compensation threshold to qualify for the alternative profits tax.  The alternative profits tax is a simpler and less expensive tax that many small businesses qualify for.  It is based on a company’s gross receipts, their net profit, and what they pay the key officers of the company.

To pay for these changes, the plan as it passed the Senate would make a number of other changes including:
  • Freezing the earned income tax credit (this is a credit for low income taxpayers) for one year;
  • Reducing the film credit;
  • Reducing the brownfield credit and;
  • Allowing for a tax amnesty period for delinquent taxpayers.
Some of these revenues would also be used to supplement the School Aid budget.

The plan is not supported by Governor Granholm, and it is unclear what the House intends to do.

House Passes Tax Increases

Also last week, the House passed and proposed a number of tax increases that are intended to restore the some of the cuts that are included in the budget bills.  The one that has received the most attention thus far is a tax on physicians.  The tax would charge doctors’ offices and other medical facilities a 3% tax based on their revenues. 

Proponents of the tax which is called the Quality Assurance Assessment Program (QAAP) point out that the tax allows the state to get federal money to supplement those who treat Medicaid patients and for some physician’s will actually amount to a net increase.

However, those doctors who treat little or no Medicaid patients would only pay the tax.

The House passed the physician’s tax and a bill to freeze an increase in the personal income tax exemption that would otherwise take place next year.

Other bills that have been discussed in the House to raise more revenue include reductions in certain Michigan Business Tax Credits (what they would be has not been determined), an increase in taxes on certain tobacco products (not cigarettes), and increasing liquor license fees for bars to stay open later.

The Senate has said that they have little interest in passing these bills.

SBAM remains committed to our position that the budget should be balanced without tax increases, and then the legislature to look at structural reforms that will be needed to balance next year’s budget.

SBAM and Michigan business groups to hold Tues. 11 a.m. press conference at state Capitol

SBAM and other Michigan business groups, encouraged by the state Senate’s proposal to reduce the cut in the K-12 education budget and phase out the job killing Michigan Business Tax surcharge, are gathering at the state Capitol on Tuesday at 11 a.m. to ask the Michigan House to finish the work started in the upper chamber. Their message: with all budgets now passed it is important that our elected leaders focus on meaningful reforms that will facilitate economic growth and lead to a revitalization of Michigan. Both the Governor and House Democrats have said they favor repeal of the MBT surcharge and now the Senate has put forth a balanced plan to accomplish this goal.