Public policy affects every business in one way or another. Many large businesses employ lobbyists or government relations staff members to monitor and fight for policies that are business-friendly. However, small to medium-size businesses often don’t have the same time or resources.
This is an issue because businesses of various sizes have different needs. Historically, small businesses have had to sit back and simply accept whatever policies officials put in place because their voice was lacking during the lawmaking process. It doesn’t need to be this way.
Smaller businesses tend to overlook the abundance of ways they can help shape
policies and navigate government without
breaking the bank.
Chambers of Commerce
As a chamber professional, I would be kicking myself if I didn’t mention the government relations services that chambers across the nation provide to businesses of all sizes. The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce offers the opportunity for members to sit on our policy committee or political action committee (PAC). The PAC helps elect pro-business candidates to local, state and federal governments; and the policy committee helps identify policy areas to support or oppose throughout the year. Based on the policy priorities, we offer educational sessions to keep members informed about policy changes, testify at the local and state level about issues, lobby legislators, write letters and op-eds urging officials to make decisions that benefit businesses, host roundtable discussions with lawmakers, and much more. We even have a help desk on our website to answer questions regarding business compliance, zoning and licensure.
Another way to get involved in public policy is to support campaigns. You could start with something small like put a pro-business candidate’s sign in your yard or make a small donation to his or her campaign. You could also volunteer to work on his or her campaign by making calls, knocking on doors or offering to contribute a special skill that helps the campaign.
Elected officials are guided by what their constituents need. You could write letters or reach out to their teams to set up a meeting to talk about the issues that affect you. Another great way to discuss issues with lawmakers is to attend their roundtables, coffee hours and other community outreach events.
Political Action Committees
In addition to chambers of commerce PACs, many organizations and businesses in our community have PACs. You should research to see what kind of candidates they support and reach out to them to see if you can join the PAC or help them with their events and activities.
Although these activities may seem small, they position your business to gain political connections and give your company a voice on policy decisions.
As we quickly come upon a new year and decade, consider becoming an advocate for your business. If you have questions about the chamber’s advocacy efforts or want to learn more about how you can get politically activated, visit lansingchamber.org.