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SBAM launches initiative for economic turnaround

June 25, 2010

(TV news crews cover SBAM’s press conference announcing economic growth initiative)

A public policy initiative geared to revitalize Michigan’s economy is being launched today by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), which hopes to boost job creation and propel Michigan forward toward economic growth and stability.

SBAM is urging state policy makers and the next governor to embrace “economic gardening,” an economic development strategy that has emerged as a prototype for significant job creation.

“Our initiative will aggressively hold the new governor and legislators accountable for supporting home grown business job providers,” explains Rob Fowler, SBAM President and CEO. “We need to refocus our direction from primarily ‘hunting’ outside the state for job providers, to instead ‘cultivating’ home grown companies, especially second stage companies, that have been the primary job creators.”

Almost all of Michigan’s new jobs from 1993 to 2007 came from businesses with less than 100 workers, while companies of 500 or more employees lost significant numbers of jobs in that period, according to the Edward Lowe Foundation.

SBAM is launching the initiative today, dubbed “Propelling a New Economic Direction for Michigan,” at its annual meeting, which draws hundreds of small business owners from across the state to the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

Figures compiled by the Edward Lowe Foundation show that small, “second-stage” companies produced more jobs in the 15-year period between 1993 and 2007 than any other business segment in the state. Second-stage companies are those that employ between 10 and 100 workers, have annual sales of at least $1 million and want to grow, according to the Edward Lowe Foundation’s definition. Such businesses created 137,249 jobs in Michigan between 1993 and 2007, while companies employing 500 or more workers shed 257,585 jobs in the same time period.

SBAM says home grown companies will grow with the right support that allows them to overcome hurdles to growth.

SBAM has quietly been working on pilot programs, testing growth ideas with 24 companies in the Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw region and Tuscola County in the Thumb. The “economic gardening” philosophy was pioneered in Littleton, Colorado in 1989 when the town’s major employer, Martin Marietta, cut thousands of jobs. Since then Littleton’s employment has risen 71 percent and its tax base has tripled.

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