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Posted on Sun, Mar 21, 2010 : 5:48 a.m.

Public policy—It’s everyone’s business

By Debra Power

If I say public policy, what comes to mind? Legislation, politics, people sitting in a boardroom arguing about an issue?

Public policy, or public affairs, actually directly affects you and your business and your bottom line. The good news is that you have an opportunity to participate in shaping public policy, and in turn you can look to policymakers to help you grow your business.

Just ask Michelle Crumm, chief business officer and co-founder of Adaptive Materials. Her business receives federal contracts which encouraged her to “learn how to work with our legislators to get them the information they need to impact policy to make small business more competitive.”

Dr. Dawn White, president of Accio Energy has also benefited from her public policy activities.

“Part of my job is to help policy makers understand that start-up technology businesses with high growth potential have unique needs associated with the technology development cycle. Communicating this to individuals at the federal and state levels has helped my business grow; we employ twice as many people now as we did less than a year ago.”

If you are interested in getting more involved with public policy there are many local, regional and national resources within reach. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce has a standing public policy committee made up of chamber members. This group is dedicated to addressing local, regional, and state issues on behalf of member businesses. This includes taking positions on proposed taxes, ordinances, millages, and budgets. The staff at the chamber also provides contact information for legislators on a local, state, and federal level and can assist you with the protocols for reaching out to them.

  • Every year, the federal government spends $400 billion on goods and services. The Equity in Contracting for Women Act (2000) stipulates that federal agencies award 5% of all contracts to women-owned business. To get a piece of that very big pie, start by registering your business with the Central Contractor Registry. Then, learn more about how to work with federal agencies by connecting with the local PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) or WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy).

  • Contact your legislators and make your opinion known. As a local business your voice counts. Your legislators can also be advocates when you apply for a grant or compete for a federal contract. Ask them for a letter of support to include in your application or proposal.

  • Volunteer for a local governmental board, committee, or commission, not only to make a difference, but also to establish important ties with elected officials and staff.
Debra Power is president of Power Marketing and Research and the co-founder of the Women's Exchange of Washtenaw. She writes regular columns for Business Review with WXW co-founder Carrie Hensel.



Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

Having recently talked to a State Rep, I can assure they do not care what you have to say. I was promised a face to face meeting, but since I did not donate to her campaign, the face to face did not happen. If you advocate anything other than Big Government is good, you are labeled a right wing kook and dismissed.