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Michigan expanding small business, entrepreneur opportunities

(from l) Sheridan, Fowler discuss opportunities for Michigan entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship creates jobs and drives Michigan's economy said Neil Sheridan, chair of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) Entrepreneurship Task Force, and Rob Fowler, President and CEO of SBAM, at the April Capitol Issues Forum "Accelerating Economic Growth through Entrepreneurship."

More than 650,000 registered small businesses in Michigan rely on economic growth and entrepreneurship opportunities. To help better align public and private support of entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneurship Task Force considers university, government and business goals alike for its Priorities and Interests of New Entrepreneurs (PINE) initiative. PINE identifies policy issues that hinder entrepreneurial growth and focuses on current needs, like engaging likeminded organizations to identify and advocate for entrepreneurial support.

The Entrepreneurship Task Force also created the Michigan entrepreneurial score card, a nationwide economic benchmark to compare Michigan to the other 49 states in aspects of entrepreneurship cultivation. Score card metrics show that more can be done to foster growth in Michigan. Michigan has lower entrepreneurial vitality than other states, coming in 32nd, which measures the "health" of entrepreneurship opportunities and policies per state.

Some efforts to encourage small business growth have proven successful. SBAM and the Entrepreneurship Task Force helped end the business "double tax", a six percent sales tax on business equipment plus an additional fee of its ownership. Michigan jumped from last place to 7th place in the "entrepreneurship structure", an important step in maintaining conditions for entrepreneurial growth.

Both Sheridan and Fowler stressed that investors should be paying attention to the evolving landscape of software startups.

"Business has changed," Fowler says, citing

Lyft's technology-oriented business model. "Seeing the success companies like Amazon have had online, storefronts may be becoming a thing of the past."

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