As one of Ohio’s largest small business support organizations, COSE is uniquely positioned as a strong, unified voice that educates policymakers and helps them tackle the issues that impact your business every day. We’ve got a track record for success as the nonpartisan voice of small business.
“From the very beginning of COSE’s history, the ability to mobilize small businesses and coalesce around the issues that are important to them, and get attention around those issues, has been core to what we do,” says Steve Millard, president and executive director, COSE.
“We are a voice for small business owners, who are often forgotten in the day-to-day deliberations and discussions of policymakers,” Millard emphasizes. COSE develops a policy course of action every two years through a Public Policy Agenda that outlines hot-button legislative issues and organizes support and advocacy resources to ensure that small businesses are heard, and understood.
“We are constantly monitoring what is going on at the state and federal levels,” Millard says. “When issues come up, we can offer testimony, bring small business owners in front of those elected officials and make sure policymakers get the information they need to make an informed decision.”
The COSE Public Policy Agenda provides information and guidance to members and the small business community. Here are four key issues to watch this year, and how you to get involved in COSE advocacy.
Reducing Personal Income Tax. In 2015, Gov. Kasich will continue pushing for a reduction in personal income tax, and this has a direct impact on small businesses that are not organized as a corporation. COSE is focused on ensuring that a tax reduction doesn’t result in other increases to replace the revenue, such as more fees for business filings.
Addressing Workers’ Comp Liability. Employers must hold workers’ compensation insurance, but businesses that acquire property could inherit a surprising expense: the previous occupant’s workers’ comp ratings and liabilities. Unfortunately, most employers that get slapped with this expense don’t realize the workers’ comp liability exists on the property until they seal the deal — or start receiving the bills. “This is a financial challenge that gets very little attention, and usually by the time an employer figures it out, it’s too late,” Millard says.
COSE wants policymakers to reform workers’ compensation successor liability policies to ensure that employers are not unfairly charged fees due to previous inhabitants’ workers’ comp activities.
“First, this would reduce the cost of workers’ comp for that company, and also it would prevent employers from leaving storefronts empty where previous tenants have a bad workers’ comp history,” Millard says. Those empty storefronts become workers’ comp headstones because no employer wants to take on the liability.
Focusing on Workforce Skills Training. “Skills and talent are going to be the biggest issues that small business owners face in 2015,” Millard says. COSE is dedicated to working with community stakeholders to create policies that encourage more incumbent worker training to help seal the skills gap. “Getting more small business owners involved with the state’s Ohio Means Jobs initiative so they can connect workers with job opportunities will be important,” he says.
Supporting the Common Sense Initiative. The Common Sense Initiative (CSI) provides a regulatory framework for promoting economic development, improving responsiveness and transparency, easing compliance concerns and creating a predictable climate for businesses. The idea is to usher out regulations that discourage business, and create new policies that are relevant and business friendly.
COSE is a strong voice for CSI, with two members serving on the CSI Small Business advisory board.
“Regulation is the place where government action and small business operations come together and create problems, where you try to do something but you can’t because there is a regulation or rule that prevents it,” Millard explains. “Correcting these issues is an important area of focus for us.”
Get Involved! Be heard. Join the advocacy movement and represent small business by participating in COSE initiatives. “We are so much more effective when members get involved, and there are lots of opportunities for business owners to make an impact,” Millard says. Find out more at cose.org/advocacy
This story was originally published in the January/February 2015 issue of the COSE Update.