The Disappearing Voice of the Small Business

Large corporations often retain lobbyists or employ government relations  The Disappearing Voice of the Small Business by Harlan Levineprofessionals to advance their agendas. But how do small businesses make their voices heard?

Historically, small businesses relied upon their full-service distributors or trade associations, who themselves employed government relations specialists to promote their interests and that of their customers and members. But in recent years, many small businesses have migrated to distributors solely based upon price, and trade associations are consolidating, now often comprised of members of diverse sizes and conflicting agendas. Some cooperatives encourage member participation in the legislative process and make great efforts toward effectuating change. Others simply focus little on their government relations efforts.

Small business owners have first-hand knowledge of the issues that affect them, yet they rarely have the time to focus on more than just the day-to-day operations demanded by their businesses. They often lack sufficient staff to get involved in government relations matters. Regrettably, this means that they are often left without a say in the issues that likely affect them most.

The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, for instance, has been garnishing headlines in recent months. Theories differ as to the long-term effect such a move would have on small businesses, but many small business owners believe higher wages combined with the mandates of the Affordable Care Act will lead to their demise. Other laws related to mandatory sick time, maternity leave, wage and hour, or even parking and traffic control have been enacted with little or ineffective opposition from small businesses.

Small businesses should seek to repeal or amend existing laws as well. In New York, for instance, supermarkets are prohibited from selling any kind of alcohol besides beer and wine coolers. Supermarkets face competition from so many different types of retailers and Internet sellers. Yet, they are inexplicably prohibited from competing with liquor stores in the sale of liquor and wine. Once again, small business efforts toward abolishing such laws have been largely ineffective.

While it may not be cost-effective for every single small business to retain their own government relations personnel, it is important that small businesses collectively have their voices heard.

Contact Levine Law, LLC at (516) 921-6700 or to voice your concerns and find out how we can help.

Harlan Levine
Tel. (516) 921-6700


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