Small businesses make up the majority of firms in the Baton Rouge area and create a significant number of jobs. Growth in the region’s economy will be led by small businesses.
As a small-business owner, I got involved to make a difference. Last year I became the chairman of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Small Business Council, and I’d like to share what we have done.
In 2011, a survey of small-business owners revealed that advocacy, professional development education and networking events were the top three priorities for engagement with BRAC. We followed suit to lead in these areas.
Our advocacy committee began its work during the 2011 legislative session, focusing on state issues that directly affect small businesses. A big win was the Angel Investor Tax Credit, which has helped entrepreneurs seek new investments.
During the 2012 legislative session, we partnered with other business associations on numerous pieces of pro-small-business legislation. We worked with the National Federation of Independent Business for our biggest win, House Bill 989, which will give small-business owners a better understanding of their health-insurance costs through increased transparency. Through the rest of this year, the advocacy committee will continue to focus on informing members of pressing state and federal business issues.
Last year, our education committee began a partnership with SCORE of Baton Rouge to offer small-business education seminars. The workshop topics are driven by input from our members, and have included social media, brand management and state-tax incentives for small businesses.
We’re looking forward to an upcoming seminar focusing on new and exciting applications of “cloud” technology.
Finally, we’re looking forward to events in the pipeline this year that offer networking opportunities. Building on the successes of the Small Business Education Series, Innovation Take-Out and Tech Tuesday, we’re rolling out a new event called BRAC Connect.
This event will provide opportunities for small-business owners to make meaningful connections with other members of the small-business community. BRAC and others will also put on the second annual Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week in the fall.
As a small-business owner and member of the BRAC board of directors, I encourage other small-business owners to join with our Small Business Council in making the Baton Rouge area a great place to do business.
Clay Pinson, chairman
BRAC Small Business Council