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House D’s Work On Small Business Package

July 17, 2018

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) worked with Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) on creating a four-piece legislative package designed to give Michigan small businesses a leg up on state contracts while helping aspiring entrepreneurs get off the ground. 

While SBAM President & CEO Rob Fowler said details may need to be worked out on some of the concepts, he said he “applauds” the caucus for trying to help small businesses, which employs slightly more than 50 percent of the state’s workforce. 

“I give credit to Rep. Lasinski,” he said. “We had a terrific conversation from a policy standpoint. We give her a lot of credit. We’re not shy about what we stand for and what our agenda looks like and some of the elements from our task force agenda is in this.” 

He particularly mentioned HB 6237, sponsored by Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville), which gives a preference of up to 10 percent of the amount of the contract to a Michigan small business.

Fowler said his members tell him that it’s easier to get a federal government contract than a state contract. They also find themselves competing with out-of-state businesses who receive incentives when they bid for jobs in their own states. 

Lasinski’s HB 6238 would create a small business and entrepreneurship services office to help keep and create Michigan businesses of fewer than 250 employees and gross annual sales of under $12.5 million a year. Fowler said the 15 Michigan Small Business Development centers provide a free set of services that he doesn’t see needing to duplicate or replicate. 

However, creating a cabinet-level employee within state government to be focused on small business is something his members are interested in seeing with the beginning of the next administration. 

HB 5708 and HB 5709, sponsored by Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) and Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park), would create a small business retirement saving plan within state government, something attempted under the President Barack Obama and Gov. Jennifer Granholm administrations. 

The goal is to help businesses with their retirement plan so their employees can retire with dignity, Dianda said. Fowler said he’s interested in keeping the conversation going on the topic, but isn’t sure what the state’s role should be or could be. 

The way to incentive savings is for an employer to match a contribution, he said. If the company can’t do it, does it become the state’s job to provide a match? Those companies able to provide a match have no shortage of private sector products they can use. 

Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) is sponsoring a resolution that urges the governor and the office of Talent and Economic Development to develop grants for startup companies and minority business developments, which Fowler said needs to be part of the conversation.

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