MOUNT VERNON — Policies are being discussed that will affect independent businesses all across the nation. Small businesses are not without their voices, and organizations such as Area Action Council are forming to make their positions heard on key issues.
On Friday, the Knox County Area Action Council became the 19th council organized in Ohio by the National Federation of Independent Business of Ohio. Statewide, NFIB has over 2,000 members actively participating in the councils.
Keynote speaker Sen. Bill Harris, Senate District 19, spoke on the important role small businesses play in government.
“Small businesses really have an opportunity to make their point,” said Harris, who is also president of the Ohio Senate.
Being a retired business owner, Harris said he understands the significant role small businesses have on economic operations. In order for businesses to survive, he said, they must be active, as activism will continue to provide opportunities for jobs and for people to have a better quality of life.
“Because if they are not involved and not providing their input, the government-imposed regulatory processes will end up causing people to go out of business,” said Harris.
NFIB’s role is one of value, he said, and it’s important to talk about matters important to businesses and advocate on what local businesses need.
Harris also discussed the workers’ compensation program, the unemployment rate, taxes, the 3C Rail line, and other issues being debated in the Statehouse.
NFIB is an organization that focuses on promotion of rights for small businesses. It has membership from diverse industries, and has 24,000 members in Ohio; 246 members are from Knox County.
“We engage in issues that impact most, if not all, of our members,” said Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director of NFIB Ohio, who also spoke. “Issues such as health care, workers’ compensation, taxes, environmental regulations, labor law and unemployment — it doesn’t really matter where you come from in the business sector, you are impacted by those issues.”
Geiger explained that NFIB has learned members are often very active in the community on the local, state and national level. Members tend to belong to other organizations such as chamber of commerce, local networking groups, trade-specific associations as well as national advocacy groups, he said.
The purpose of the Area Action Council is to create awareness for local business on public policies that affect them. The council also participates in grassroots and lobbying activities in support of advocacy and political efforts. Membership in AAC is open to NFIB members only.
“Our best leader members are the ones who are best informed — power comes with knowledge,” said Geiger. “We believe in bringing the information and sharing that information with you — the local business owners of this community.”
The AAC was established to allow local businesses the opportunity to speak out on legislative issues, and thus, come together as a group on matters that are important to businesses.
“There are very few business organizations with our diversity that have what I like to call a ‘listening post,’ all around the state of Ohio. Oftentimes we are ahead of the curve in understanding what the issues are and what the priorities are because on a quarterly basis we are interacting with real members, on real issues, and having a real dialogue,” said Geiger.
According to the NFIB, Ohio has nearly 920,000 small businesses; these businesses add more than $27 billion to the economy. Independent businesses have an economic impact that is crucial to the overall state advancement.
“The new jobs that are coming now are from small businesses,” said Todd Mizer, chairman of Knox County Area Action Council. “You don’t see the large corporation moving into Knox County to hire, but you do see small entrepreneur ventures starting up and hiring people. The current political climate is not conducive to that entrepreneur spirit, so the purpose of the Area Action Council is to have our voice heard because we are the ones hiring right now.”