Every day but especially Saturday, Nov. 28

Shop local. Eat local. Bank local. Be entertained locally.

Nov. 28 is Small Business Saturday. Support local businesses all day long. Small Business Minnesota board members skip “Black Friday” in exchange for Saturday’s small-business celebration.  We will be visiting, eating and shopping at Minnesota small businesses (and nowhere else!) We encourage you to do the same. Without a doubt, this is the most fun day of the year!

Small Business Minnesota working for you in D.C.

Water means small business in Minnesota: Tourism, microbreweries, wild rice, and more.

Small Business Minnesota met with congressional officials and staff in DC last week to discuss the significance of clean water to small businesses.

EPA’s Clean Water Rule has been aggressively targeted by interests that do not want to account for their pollution and its affect on small businesses. At the national level, the Senate has upheld the Clean Water Rule but this vote was followed by bills that would prevent EPA from carrying out the rule.  Write or call your legislators today. Tell them that your business, you or small businesses you support rely on clean water.  Interested in becoming more involved or sharing your story? Contact SBM’s public policy director, email Audrey Britton or call (612) 807-0311.

Tourism, backbone to Minnesota’s economy: As you know, Minnesota has more than 10,000 lakes and just about as many outdoor recreational activities. Clean water is vital to Minnesota’s tourism that generates $35 million a day in revenue and employs 250,000 Minnesotans, (Minnesota Department of Tourism, 2014 report). Southern Minnesota is the state’s most lucrative tourist area in Greater Minnesota; yet half of its lakes have been designated as unsafe for swimming or fishing, and others have been listed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as “unrecoverable.” One of the state’s leading newspapers reports “Minnesota’s lakes – and its economic backbone – under algae siege.”

Minnesota’s microbrewery industry is booming, surpassing most other states for micro-brews per capita, and the growth in our state continues. An owner of one of Minnesota’s newest and most successful Breweries, the Lupine Brewing Company in Delano, explained that clean water is vital to their business.  Any change in water, either from pollution or from changes in water treatment to deal with pollution, can change their product quality, taste and uniformity, which would be devastating to their business.  The small business owner called pollution “extremely hazardous to our business.”

Minnesota has a robust wild rice small-business industry. More than any other state, wetland wild rice is part of Minnesota’s native culture and deeply imbedded in our history. Harvesters are dependent on clean water, yet wetlands are under the continual threat of laws that would allow unlimited dumping of sulfate.

Minnesota is also home to thousands of small family farms, small growers, pollinator businesses and organics businesses that by definition have to be free of contaminants. All depend on clean water.

Small Business Minnesota holding public policy meetings

Rep. Paul Rosenthal, small-business caucus co-chair, attended Small Business Minnesota’s most recent public policy committee meeting in early October. We focused on the upcoming 2016 state legislative session and approved the Small Business Minnesota 2016 state legislative agenda. The session begins in March and may only last 8-weeks. Other meetings will be scheduled in the near future.

Small Business Minnesota also discussed the 2016 agenda and other small-business issues with Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Secretary of State Steve Simon, Minority Leader Paul Thissen, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and the new MNsure small-business board member, Edgardo Rodriguez. We plan to meet with other leaders throughout the coming weeks and months.

Among the issues being discussed are: affordable health insurance for small business owners and employees; proposed small-business tax “assistance” that disregards 98 percent of Minnesota’s small businesses; adequate Internet access for small businesses in Greater Minnesota; transportation to get goods to market, employees to work and customers to our doors; environmental impacts on small businesses; patent trolls, payday lenders and frivolous ADA-related lawsuits targeting small businesses; and more.

Interested in becoming more involved, attending the next meeting or sharing your public policy concerns? Contact Small Business Minnesota public policy director by email Audrey Britton, or phone (612) 807-0311.

Small Business Minnesota participating in state retirement plan committee

Small Business Minnesota is serving on a committee reviewing and commenting on proposed public retirement savings plans for small businesses.

Many small-business owners are unable to offer retirement savings plans to their employees and some do not have retirement savings plans for themselves. To help kick-start savings and to relieve small business owners from administrative burdens, Minnesota is joining other states in studying options for small businesses owners and/or their employees.

Giving Small Businesses A Competitive Edge Creating a New Retirement Plan
By Mary Jo George, Minnesota AARP

Today, a secure retirement is out of reach for many Americans. The typical working-age household has only $3,000 in retirement assets, while near-retirement households have only $12,000. In Minnesota, nearly 1 million workers lack access to a retirement plan at work. Many small business owners are unable to offer retirement plans to their employees because it can be too costly and administratively burdensome. That’s why Minnesota joins the ranks of other states in studying a new retirement savings option for small businesses called the Secure Choice Plan.

How it works: The Secure Choice plan would be administered through the state board of investment, and administrative duties could be contracted out with a private-sector third-party. The plan harnesses the state’s ability to pool the interests of private employers who choose to take part in the program, thereby allowing economies of scale (creating a large group) to lower investment and administrative costs. Pooled investing and professional management money by the state will also drive down costs for participants and improve efficiency. The Secure Choice Plan could give small businesses the competitive edge they need to offer their employees retirement plans, an effective recruitment and retention strategy for any sized business.

Have your voice heard
In a recent AARP survey of small businesses, about three in five small business owners support a the proposed Minnesota retirement savings plan. To learn more about Secure Choice or how your business can get involved in making it a reality in Minnesota, email Audrey Britton, Small Business Minnesota public policy director or call her at (612) 807-0311.

Dozens sign petition for small-business policy fairness at COACT farm picnic

Dozens of small business owners signed a Small Business Minnesota petition for public policy fairness for small businesses at this summer’s COACT Farm Picnic/Main Street Business gathering in Pierz, MN.

People signing the petition came from small farms and small businesses in Grand Rapids, Deer River, Little Falls, Pierz, Bowlus, Brainerd, Belle Prairie, Crosby, Royalton, Ft. Ripley, Swanville, Puckman, Burtrum, Minnetonka, Lauderdale, Albany…

While the vast majority of Minnesota’s workforce is employed by small and midsized businesses, the vast majority of public policy favors big business interests. Small Business Minnesota works on small-business concerns every day. However, most legislators want to hear directly from small business owners. Contact Audrey Britton or call her at (612) 807-0311.

The annual Family Farm and Main Street gathering is hosted each year by COACT who invited Small Business Minnesota to be one of the two featured speakers. Related story.

Small business compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

As reported in the news, some unsuspecting small business owners have received letters threatening legal action due to supposed non-compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  While the ADA is well-intended, the attorney threatening lawsuits is not and is now facing possible disbarment.

If you receive a threat related to ADA compliance, before racking up attorney fees, you may want to first call the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board and/or the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 voice and (800) 514-0383 TDD.

The ADA requires that accessibility be improved without taking on excessive expenses that could harm the business. In some cases, it may not be possible or required for businesses, especially small businesses, to make their facilities fully accessible. There is much that can be done without much difficulty or expense to improve accessibility.

Tax credits and deductions: Small businesses may be able to access tax credits and deductions to help cover costs associated with compliance with the Americans with Disability Act. See ADA for Small Businesses and Download guide.

This is not intended to be legal advice. Small Business Minnesota does not offer legal advice; we only provide resources that may or may not be of value in legal situation. If you need legal assistance related to small businesses, we will put you in contact with a Small Business Minnesota members who are independent attorneys.

Welcome new members!

Holden Law Firm

Holden Law Firm counsels and represents individual and business clients on matters involving employment and business law. John Holden has more than 25 years of experience practicing law and worked as in-house counsel for a large international transportation company for 10 years before starting his employment and business law firm. John Holden has extensive experience advising employers in how to comply with complex employment laws. He provides businesses with counsel on hiring and firing procedures, drafting employment contracts, and assisting in preventing, investigating and resolving employee complaints and difficult employee situations. He will work with you to develop policies and strategies to ensure corporate compliance with state and federal employment laws. Contact: John C. Holden, (952) 836-2640 holdenlawfirm.com .

10,000 Lakes Accounting, Mark Gleason CPA, thanks for your renewal!
Small businesses need a trusted partner to rely on for accounting services and tax preparation. With more than 30 years of experience, Mark S Gleason, CPA Ltd, provides tax help and advice by meeting with individual clients to discuss their unique situation. Then, he personally prepares any documentation and ensures that his clients get the benefit of ANY and ALL tax incentives. Mark’s experience covers a range of small businesses in a variety of industries. You can rely on him to know the standard tax practices and rules for yours, including specific challenges and compliance needs.  We offer a special reduced rate ($50) on an initial one-hour consultation for qualified small business owners.  Contact: Mark Gleason, (612) 861-4542, lakes-cpa.com.

Small Business Minnesota in the news

Small Business Minnesota to represent main street businesses as pillar of the rural economy at 35th COACT Farm Picnic was featured in the Brainerd Dispatch, Financial News Focus, and more publications from around Minnesota.

“Featured speaker will be Audrey Britton, chair of Small Business Minnesota and director of public and government relations. Britton will focus on the economic importance of Minnesota’s small businesses which comprise the state’s largest employer, and will update the issues …”

Small Business Minnesota was featured in It’s Time For Universal Health Care, St. Cloud Times.

“Small Business Minnesota and Minnesota Farmers Union confirmed what COACT had been hearing from business owners and family farmers for years: Unaffordable medical coverage is their No. 1 problem.”

Free publication examines state’s market conditions, economic indicators

Minnesota Employment Review, produced by the Labor Market Information Office, is a monthly publication that examines labor market conditions and key economic indicators statewide.

Is it taxable or is it not?

The  Minnesota Department of Revenue has been publishing guides to answer industry’s sales and use tax questions. Read more.

Small Business Minnesota featured in St. Cloud Times

An op-ed published by the St. Cloud Times reports that Small Business Minnesota and Minnesota Farmers Union confirmed what COACT had been hearing from business owners and family farmers for years: Unaffordable medical coverage is their No. 1 problem. Read full article.

SBM reaches 1000 followers

Small Business Minnesota reached a digital milestone today by surpassing 1000 Twitter followers.

Small Business Minnesota submits comments on the City of Minneapolis Working Families Agenda

We heard from many members concerned with the City of Minneapolis’ proposed Working Families Agenda. Small Business Minnesota has submitted the following comments.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Audrey Britton, public policy director.

Small business public policy meeting Oct. 13, 7-9 p.m. with call-in option

Small Business Minnesota will hold a public policy meeting to discuss issues facing small businesses in Minnesota, review ongoing and upcoming efforts, and to hear your ideas and concerns. All are welcome.

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 7-9 p.m.

Southdale Hennepin County Library, Helen Young room,
7001 York Ave S, Edina, MN 55435

CALL IN CHANGED:  (612) 807-0311

Read more

Small Business Minnesota joins national effort to curb patent trolls

Frivolous patent litigation continues to suppress business and economic development in the United States. Small Business Minnesota has joined a national effort to pass related federal legislation co-authored by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. If you’ve experienced a patent troll action or would like to assist with this effort, contact Audrey Britton, Small Business Minnesota public policy chair, (612) 807-0311.

The importance of this legislation to the business community is undeniable. Patent litigation is a serious problem, with 2015 shaping up to have the most patent lawsuits filed in history. Sixty-eight percent of all patent lawsuits are now filed by Patent Assertion Entities.  This litigation has spared no industry sector and hurt businesses off all sizes throughout the country costing businesses billions in direct and indirect costs each year draining resources that would otherwise be used to create jobs and invest in new technologies.

Small Business Minnesota has heard from members concerned with this issue.  One Minnesota small business owner decided to fight back and commented that he cannot attract new business because of the ongoing lawsuit. Attorney Lori Swanson has already sent one patent troll “business” packing but her efforts have been limited.