Startup Scaleup Recap: Thoughts from the Twitterverse

Here are the key takeaways attendees of Startup Scaleup 2017 walked away from this year’s event with.

Startup Scaleup 2017 brought together hundreds of entrepreneurs and startup business owners hungry for tips and tricks to take their business to the next level. Miss out on this year’s event? Here’s a recap of the musings and informational nuggets attendees walked away with from the event that was held earlier this month.

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  • Next up: State Biennium Budget Bill Includes Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

    State Biennium Budget Bill Includes Tax Relief for Small Business Owners

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) commends Ohio Governor John Kasich, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Senate President Keith Faber, and the General Assembly today for clearing a state biennium budget bill that includes tax relief for small business owners. The final version of the tax package grants a 75% tax deduction for the first $250,000 in small business income for 2015 and a 100% deduction beginning in 2016. The plan also calls for a flat 3% tax rate on business income above $250,000. 

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) commends Ohio Governor John Kasich, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Senate President Keith Faber, and the General Assembly today for clearing a state biennium budget bill that includes tax relief for small business owners. The final version of the tax package grants a 75% tax deduction for the first $250,000 in small business income for 2015 and a 100% deduction beginning in 2016. The plan also calls for a flat 3% tax rate on business income above $250,000. 

    “We have heard from many small business owners about the value of the current 50% tax deduction as a resource,” said COSE President and Executive Director Steve Millard. “An increase to that tax deduction sends a strong signal that our elected officials view small business as a priority. These deductions can create an opportunity for additional business investment that can make a difference for a small business owner.” In addition, the state budget will: 

    • provide for a 6.3% across-the-board income tax cut beginning in 2015; 
    • lower the top rate to below 5% and potentially provide more than $1.2 billion in tax relief to Ohioans during the next two years; 
    • increase the state cigarette excise tax from $1.25 on a pack of cigarettes to $1.60 to help pay for tax relief; and 
    • the tax changes in the budget will be put in place without raising or expanding the sales tax base or increasing the sales tax or commercial activity tax (CAT) rate. 

    “The tax relief included in this budget is consistent with our views on providing predictable support for small business that encourages economic flexibility, stability, and growth,” added Millard. “COSE has and will continue to support sound tax policies that allow business owners to re-invest back into their companies, workforce, and communities.” 


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  • Next up: State Minimum Wage to Increase in 2018

    State Minimum Wage to Increase in 2018

    Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, Ohioans on minimum wage will see a small increase in their paychecks. The state wage will rise from $8.15 an hour to $8.30 an hour for non-tipped employees. Tipped employees will increase from $4.08 to $4.15.

    An amendment passed by Ohio voters a little over 10 years ago mandated Ohio’s minimum wage increase on Jan. 1 of each year based on the rate of inflation. The 2018 increase is the largest in Ohio since January 2015.

    The Ohio minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour at businesses with annual gross receipts of $305,000 or less, and for 14- and 15-year-olds.

    Click here for more information to prepare your business for the change in Ohio’s minimum wage rate.

    A separate, recent court ruling stated legislation that passed last year—outlawing unique local minimum wage rates outside of the state wage rate—could be invalid because the appeals court believed the bill violated a single-subject requirement. While GCP does not philosophically object to raising the minimum wage, our membership has articulated grave concerns with unique minimum wages imposed at the local level. The Greater Cleveland Partnership and its partners opposed a misguided local minimum wage and advocated for state intervention because it would place the City of Cleveland at a disadvantage, hinder job creation, business growth, and the overall momentum the city is now experiencing. Petitioners subsequently suspended ballot efforts to raise the minimum wage in Cleveland. 

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  • Next up: State of the Union: An Aggressive Set of Ideas that will Create Opportunities and Concerns for Small Business Owners

    State of the Union: An Aggressive Set of Ideas that will Create Opportunities and Concerns for Small Business Owners

    There is not a lot in the President’s State of the Union address tonight that the American public disagreed with. In fact, if you were watching the various tracking devices and polling tools that were accompanying the president’s speech, rarely did public opinion drop below 85% agreement with the ideas and proposals.

    There is not a lot in the President’s State of the Union address tonight that the American public disagreed with. In fact, if you were watching the various tracking devices and polling tools that were accompanying the president’s speech, rarely did public opinion drop below 85% agreement with the ideas and proposals. And, the ideas themselves are such that disagreement would be difficult. Support for initiatives to create greater access to student education and worker training, apprenticeships and internships. A focus on addressing the gap in IT and STEM skills to increase tech skills of workers and reduce the tech jobs gap. A call for new efforts to reduce the burdens of tax compliance for small business. Increased investment in support for startups and small manufacturers. And, increased access to high speed Internet and support for net neutrality. All of these ideas have positive implications for small employers.

    So where are the potential trouble areas?  The President suggested a number of interventions and changes to the relationship between employers and their employees, including a focus on increasing union representation; a push to increase the minimum wage; requirements on small businesses to offer and provide retirement plans for workers; an expansion of the reach of overtime requirements – potentially increasing overtime eligibility for salaried workers; and, a new push on paid sick leave.  While again, there was strong agreement from the public on almost all of these issues, the way in which each is designed, funded and crafted in consideration of the unique needs of our small business owners is going to keep all of us busy and vigilant in the year ahead. 

    There are ways to continue to connect increases in wages and compensation to improvements in productivity, skills and educational attainment of employees, we need to be sure that increases in these benefits and costs bring economic value to the business owners that pay them.  And, that these costs come with gains in value and the continued ability for small business owners that bear 100% of the economic risk of their ventures to avoid additional burdens of compliance and regulation that are out of sync with the underlying value.

    Small business owners as a whole can’t be cast as having uniform feelings on these proposals. The owners of our nation’s small businesses are politically diverse and it will be easy to find many that agree very strongly and as many others that disagree just as strongly with every aspect of the President’s approach. The most important thing to small business owners is that we make progress on the nation’s important issues and break the gridlock and partisanship that grips Washington, D.C. 

    Further, small business owners are big fans of the workers they employ – in most cases they create a familial environment that benefits both the employees and the success of their businesses. However, gains in worker compensation and benefits need to be accompanied by requirements for those workers to increase their skills and respond to the needs of the businesses in which they work.  And, the increase in costs that these changes would create must be balanced with their impact on the economics of the business and their underlying business model.

    We are committed to active participation on your behalf as each of these proposals take shape and are debated. What do you think about what you heard last night? Contact us at advocacy@cose.org and we look forward to your feedback. 

    For full text of the President’s State of the Union Speech see here: President Obama's State of the Union Speech

    Hear more about the President’s State of the Union address and the implications for small business owners during our briefing in conjunction with the National Small Business Association, COSE’s non partisan federal advocacy partner.  To take part in the briefing please visit: State of the Union Issue Briefing.

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  • Next up: State Rep Mike Dovilla tours Hunt Imaging

    State Rep Mike Dovilla tours Hunt Imaging

    When asked how small businesses can better assist their elected officials on learning about small business needs, State Representative Mike Dovilla responded saying, “I urge small businesses to connect with their elected officials. That’s the only way to surface concerns that will lead to resolutions”.

    When asked how small businesses can better assist their elected officials on learning about small business needs, State Representative Mike Dovilla responded saying, “I urge small businesses to connect with their elected officials. That’s the only way to surface concerns that will lead to resolutions”.

    COSE has been helping small businesses throughout the state of Ohio do just that. Just last week, Mike Stanek, Chairman of the COSE Advocacy Committee and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Hunt Imaging, LLC, hosted State Rep. Mike Dovilla and Berea City Council President Mary Brown to tour Hunt Imaging and sit down with his fellow colleagues to discuss the company’s history, concerns, and challenges. 

    From left to right: Mark Matthews (VP of operations, Hunt Imaging), Jack Fix (Product Manager, Hunt Imaging), State Rep. Mike Dovilla, Mike Stanek (CFO, Hunt Imaging), Mary Brown (Berea, City Council President)

    Founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1909, Hunt Imaging was originally named the Phillip A. Hunt Chemical company. Focusing primarily in the trade industry, Hunt Chemical traded in raw photographic chemicals for the motion picture industry. Some of Hunt Chemical’s first innovations included the first liquid concentrate developers to process x-ray films and later graphic arts films and papers. In 1974 Hunt Chemical moved to its current location in Berea, Ohio off of Sheldon Road and occupies a 100,000 square foot facility. They also have a manufacturing facility in Temse, Belgium.

    Today, Hunt Imaging is known for developing new advanced toners and carriers for high-speed printing applications. Hunt Imaging has about 30 employees at their Berea location and Mike Stanek shared with the group that they are looking to hire a few additional employees in the future.

    Following a tour of the facility, Rep. Dovilla sat down with Hunt Imaging employees, Council President Brown, and COSE to learn more about small business priorities. Along with high energy costs being a concern for Hunt Imaging, Mike Stanek said a main workforce challenge can be finding future employees that are prepared to hit the ground running. “We have had folks who would only get 3 out of 10 questions correct when asked basic math questions,” he stated. Although there may not always be clear cut answers to eliminating skills gaps, it is an issue that many employers have across all of Ohio as Rep. Dovilla said he is quite familiar with this challenge along with employers having a hard time hiring employees who are reliable and drug-free.

    COSE would like to thank the employees of Hunt Imaging for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their stories. We echo Rep. Dovilla’s request - spend some time reaching out to those that represent you.  The connections you make and the relationships you build with your elected officials truly matter.

    Interested in hosting your elected official at your small business?  Call 216-592-2404 or email advocacy@cose.org.


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  • Next up: State Rep. Sarah LaTourette checks-in with COSE member Geothermal Professionals

    State Rep. Sarah LaTourette checks-in with COSE member Geothermal Professionals

    On April 9, several members of Geothermal Professionals, in Newbury, Ohio, were on hand to greet State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, provide her with some background on the company, and to show her around their facility.

    When Dan Fant started his business years ago he was like so many new small business owners that are apprehensive about unknown challenges to be faced along the way. Dan’s company, Geothermal Professionals in Newbury, Ohio, has grown over time to 14 employees and they complete more than 70 minimally invasive, low impact instillations of an energy product annually. On April 9, several members of Dan’s team were on hand to greet State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, provide her with some background on the company, and to show her around their facility.

    Geothermal units use the earth’s natural heat to warm and cool homes for sustainable, environmentally friendly comfort.  And, during the Representative’s visit, attendees learned that Geothermal Professionals are the only fully integrated geothermal provider in Ohio, handling every aspect of the project from start to finish for an easy and smooth experience for Dan’s customers.

    “Representative LaTourette left a very positive impression on our company. We found her to be very sincere and attentive to a complicated subject,” said Fant of the visit. “Her interest in our company, how we performed our jobs, and green energy itself was genuine.”

    The percentage of savings varies from homeowner to homeowner – the actual savings depends on the heating source options. According to Geothermal Professionals, the real driving factors for each homeowner includes: comfort, technological sophistication, quietness, eco-friendliness, re-sale value, and ROI. The ROI is a moving target that is contingent upon the size and design of the house, the indoor temperature settings, the severity of the winter, and (as mentioned above) the competing options available for the heating source – electric, propane, oil, wood, natural gas.  

    A geothermal system offers a viable HVAC solution for any homeowner seeking the greatest level of comfort and efficiency available on the market today.  As a bonus, it happens to be earth-friendly and safe,” Fant explained.    

    I appreciate the great work that COSE and Geothermal Professionals are doing in Northeast Ohio,” said State Rep. LaTourette of her visit to Geothermal. “The entire team at Geothermal is so proud of the service they provide to the area and I enjoyed learning about their field during the tour.”

    Interested in having an elected official tour your small business? Contact us at advocacy@cose.org.

    Want to learn more about how Geothermal Professionals might be the right fit for your home’s heating and cooling needs? Contact them today!

    And, don’t forget, COSE members have access to several programs designed to ensure you are maximizing your energy savings. Contact COSE energy services at 216-592-2205 or energy@cose.org to learn more about how we can help you.


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