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Wednesday, 23 April 2014 20:13

New nonprofit to advocate small business issues to the general public

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Rob Fowler Rob Fowler

A new nonprofit organization intends to advocate to a broader audience on issues affecting small businesses in Michigan.

Small Business for Michigan provides “another tool in our toolbox” to address public policies and issues that affect small businesses and the state’s business climate, said Rob Fowler, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan, the organization that formed the new group.

Rather than focus on serving or advocating on behalf SBAM members, Small Business for Michigan will gear its outreach toward the general public and voters who ultimately may decide issues at the ballot box. The organization creates “another avenue for talking to people outside of our own membership,” Fowler said.

“We’re going to talk to the public, as opposed to talking to small businesses about issues,” he said. “It’s just a new tool in the toolbox to make sure that people understand the impact (of public policies) on small business and the small business impact on the economy.”

There are at least two key issues coming up later this fall that affect small businesses and are on the organization’s radar: 1) The proposal to repeal of the state personal property tax that will appear on the Aug. 5 primary election ballot; and 2) the ongoing petition drive to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour that could end up on the November ballot if it collects the required 258,000 signatures.

Small Business for Michigan will back up its positions by using data that show the impact on small businesses from those and other issues, he said.

Much of the group’s work will parallel specific issues that arise in Lansing and locally across the state, although Small Business for Michigan will advocate and mount awareness campaigns on issues that require a longer view than an election cycle or legislative session, Fowler said.

Within the next week or so, Small Business for Michigan will embark on a public campaign dubbed “Keep Michigan Growing” to thank supporters of a 2011 legislative overhaul that eliminated the Michigan Business Tax and created a 6-percent corporate income tax. The change eased and simplified the state tax burden for small business owners.

Small Business for Michigan also plans a “vigorous” campaign this year to promote entrepreneurship and Michigan’s legacy of entrepreneurism.

How active the organization becomes hinges on the kind of issues that come forward and what it chooses to address, Fowler said.

“It has a lot of possibilities and it will depend on what comes along,” he said. “The future is wide open from the standpoint of how to use the new organization.”

Organized as a 501(c)(4) under the Internal Revenue Code, Small Business for Michigan will seek to raise financial support from donors for its advocacy work, Fowler said. As structured, the new organization has broader fundraising capabilities than SBAM.

“Our goal is to collect funding from a broad group of supporters that are interested in helping to change the small business narrative and pursue public policy goals on behalf of small business owners,” he said. 

Read 2683 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 April 2014 16:25

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