National elections get all the news coverage, but many small businesses owners soon find that when it comes to the governmental issues they face every day - ordinances, licenses, permits, taxes and other considerations – they’re much more likely be affected by a city council decision than congressional bill. Small business is a vital economic engine, as you well know, but what you may not know is the relationship between your small business and local elected officials may decide the fate of your dream. Political candidates with successful small businesses understand the plight of the small business owner. Many small business owners avoid politics because of what they hear on the national news, but at the local level, it is important to partner with your elected officials to ensure success in your business. Here are 5 reasons you should care about local politics:
1. Impact Fees – Let’s say you want to improve the façade of your building; or maybe you want to expand your business or add more parking. In order to do this, the local government will impose an impact fee for you to make your improvements. These impact fees will go toward making offsite capital improvements by the government to ensure your improvements can be handled by the infrastructure that is in place. Caring about who your local politicians are can impact these additional fees you could be assessed if you support and elect a pro-business candidate.
2. Keep it Local – Local politicians want to keep monies spent local. For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend in a national chain, only $43 stays local. Business-savvy local officials want to partner with local business owners because your success is the community’s success.
3. Policy Issues and Ordinances – Decisions about what type of business can go where, who can serve or sell certain products and how much competition there is around are often created by local policy and ordinances passed by local government elected officials. Any changes to these policies and ordinances are also decided at the local level. If there are issues blocking your business from succeeding, it is helpful to work with forward-thinking pro-business politicians to change these policies to help enhance your business.
4. Permitting/Licensing – Every city and county in America charges fees for various licenses and permits. The cost of these permits and licenses vary and the difficulty in obtaining these items varies in each municipality. Working with your local government officials will help influence how these fees are charged and the cost involved. Additionally, sharing with them the difficulty faced in obtaining these permits can be corrected at the local level, as long as the government leaders know it is an issue.
5. Tax Dollars – Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, traffic lights, sidewalks and street lamps are all paid for through tax dollars collected on sales taxes and property taxes. Additionally, police, fire and 911 are paid for through taxes and fees. Any brick and mortar business wants an attractive, easy to navigate street, sidewalk and safe neighborhood in which to attract walk-in business. Working with local politicians at the city and county level is how these items get accomplished.
Small businesses typically get overlooked in national elections, but local general elections should be ALL about rebuilding the local economy, and this cannot be done without small business owners. When considering whether or not to support a candidate for local office, consider their past work in their own business and the local community. New economic models and fresh ideas will often be the starting block for success of any local community and your business.