As a small business you represent 98% of all US firms. You represent 55% of the private sector workforce and are the driver for new job creation. 97% of new jobs are created by you. You are responsible for half of America's GDP. You deserve to have your best interests served in Washington and at your state capital. The only way to ensure your fair representation is to get active.
This article explores four special interest groups. Each of these groups is capable of representing your interests and you should be actively involved with at least one. At the very least, it's a good idea to be up-to-date on news and initiatives by setting up a Google Alert and receive real-time email updates as news unfolds.
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
This lobby group has offices in all 50 states and Washington DC. They offer on their website an abundance of free information and advice on Workers’ Compensation, Healthcare, and Safety and Training. Additionally they also offer financial services to members. Reported membership is 350,000.
Why should you be interested in the NFIB?
Of course as a lobby, the NFIB is busy in Washington. When the healthcare reform bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was passed in 2010, the NFIB joined 26 states (at the time of the video it was 20) in a lawsuit against the Federal government and the constitutionality of the act. The NFIB’s stance is that the passing of the bill will increase costs for small businesses and is not in the best interests of their constituency.
The NFIB’s claims are supported by a Chapman University study conducted in 2009, Health Insurance Reform in an Experimental Market. The study concludes that small employers and low margin employers would be adversely affected by the legislation. Vernon L. Smith, Co-Recipient, 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, called the study “Important.”
Council on Competitiveness (CC)
This group was formed in the late 1980s in response to the United States’ slip from the world’s number one creditor to number one debtor. Yet, after 30 years in existence our country is faced with the same problems. Why should you be interested in the CC?
One front the CC is fighting is protecting the US’ intellectual property position. IP accounts for five trillion dollars of GDP, almost one third, and accounts for 60% of our exports. With this kind of leverage in IP assets, the US must be vigilant in fighting piracy. The CC was recently involved with World Intellectual Property Day, bringing together world leaders to get to the bottom of the worldwide IP piracy epidemic and help protect a valuable pillar of US GDP.
If you are in any industry that is threatened by foreign competition, following the CC could be beneficial to your understanding of the global issues your industry faces.
National Association of Manufactures
This lobby was created in the late 1800s as a manufactures’ consortium to export US goods in light of weak domestic sales. In the early 1900s labor unions gained popularity and required a collective response from manufacturers. Today NAM claims to be the manufactures’ voice in health care reform, labor relations, energy and the environment, trade policy and taxes. NAM’s website claims that manufacturing is one of the nation’s largest drivers for economic growth. Their stated mission is to create jobs through a strong manufacturing industry.
Why you should be interested in NAM…
A survey conducted in late June 2011 polled 8,709 manufacturers. A majority of 69% said that recent actions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a large labor interest group, would hurt their ability to grow jobs. Specifically, the manufactures polled are referring to a move by the NLRB to force a Boeing shut down of its South Carolina plant. The basis for the action was on grounds that Boeing moved the plant from Washington state to South Carolina in order avoid working with a strike-prone workforce in Washington. NAM supports Boeing and the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act on the grounds that the government has no right to tell a company where it must operate.
US Chamber of Commerce (Chamber)
Perhaps the most well-known business lobby in the United States, the Chamber has 3 million member businesses and will celebrate its 100 year anniversary in 2012.
Why you should be on top of the Chamber…
The Chamber supports free trade. Many economists argue that free trade is important for the long-term health of an economy. Free trade can also have certain impacts on small business, whether they be positive or negative depends entirely on the industry. However, the Chamber is usually going to support any legislation aimed at breaking down trade barriers, even if it could negatively affect certain segments of our domestic economy.
The Chamber has been instrumental in support of the recent Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Korea, Panama, and Columbia. These agreements will reduce tariffs and increase exports to the countries. The Chamber claims some 280,000 jobs will be created as a result of the FTAs. A major export will be agriculture products like corn. According to the Chamber 97% of US exporting companies are small to medium-sized enterprises.