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The Foundation of SBAM’s Legislative Agenda: Small Business, People and Place

October 4, 2022

By Alexa Kramer

Originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS Magazine

The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) continues to be the premier organization for small businesses in Michigan. Our legislative agenda reflects the variety of issues that affect small business operations daily. There’s no denying the connection between our small businesses, people and place making. Because of this, our legislative agenda has broadened to comprehensively advocate for small businesses on all issues affecting their bottom line.

Small Business, People and Place

The three points of this triangle—small business, people and place—are the foundation of our legislative agenda. Small businesses need people with the right skills, people need place that’s growing, and place needs small businesses to thrive. Without recognizing the importance of each point of this triangle, our legislative agenda would be incomplete.

Small Businesses Need People

Small businesses need people with the right skills to meet their demand. SBAM remains committed to ensuring workforce development and talent policies align with small business needs and increasing our talent pool of qualified individuals to meet those needs.

SBAM will continue to play a large role in talent and workforce development policies. At both the state and federal level, we will support initiatives that incentivize work and provide access and reduce barriers to entry into the workforce, whether that’s childcare, skills policy or criminal justice reform.

Connecting our education systems—from early education, through K-12, post-secondary and our workforce system—is always top of mind to better align the skills required by our small businesses. In addition, we will continue our advocacy of proven talent programs like the “Going Pro Talent Fund” and “Michigan Reconnect.” Both programs help individuals gain new skills that match our small business demand.

People Need Place

People need places that are growing and present ongoing opportunities. In order for Michigan to attract and retain talent, Michiganders must see our communities as places that provide a high quality of life in all aspects.

This is an area that SBAM has started to engage in more. Increasing the importance of local community resilience and supporting initiatives that boost innovation around education, economic development and other critical community infrastructure, will help communities all across Michigan attract workers.

On infrastructure, SBAM remains committed to supporting funding to maintain safe and efficient transportation that is paid for from user fees and/or reprioritization within the state budget—not by taking on more debt. We also remain committed to supporting the 2018 Tunnel Agreement as the best solution to ensure uninterrupted and affordable energy supply under the Straits of Mackinac.

When it comes to economic development, SBAM favors a broadened focus beyond specific industries and increased support of second-stage, growing businesses already here in Michigan.

SBAM supports a quality, well-rounded education for all students that increases accountability for our K-12 system, and completion rates of our post-secondary schools.

Unlike our larger businesses that may have the ability to pick and choose communities to open shop, small businesses operate where the owners live and raise their families. Incorporating placemaking into the agenda will ensure SBAM is engaging in all ways to elevate our small businesses.

Place Needs Small Business

To ensure place thrives, small businesses need to thrive. Small businesses are our economic engine and require the right tax, regulatory and health care policies to provide a pro-business climate. Without these, small business growth will be stifled.

A broad-based tax system, along with simple, consistent and compliant regulations, are top of mind for SBAM. Government should not set or limit prices that businesses can charge or control the benefits and wages agreed to between businesses and their employees. Health care should remain a negotiable issue between employers and their employees and costs should be more transparent, ensuring business owners and employees understand cost, quality and options available.

SBAM supports any new or amended rules or mandates to be handled through the normal law or rulemaking process, and requires a cost-benefit analysis to consider the impact on small business.

This comprehensive legislative agenda will allow the Small Business Association of Michigan to better advocate and support small business owners like you. If you have questions on the legislative agenda or want to be more engaged in our advocacy work, contact me at alexa.kramer@sbam.org.


Alexa Kramer is SBAM’s Director of Government Operations. You can reach her at alexa.kramer@sbam.org.

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