Elections always have an impact on people’s lives. It’s not immediate, but the people we put into positions of power will make decisions that change our future. It’s the same way for the leaders of businesses who are trying to figure out how global, national, state, and local politics will impact how they run their businesses. Their ability to navigate the ever-changing decision-making can be the difference in hiring more employees, increasing payrolls, and expanding operations.
Do the people elected to leadership positions understand the challenges of running a business? If they do not, then often well-meaning policies can put a new burden on business.
Taxes are always on the radar for business leaders because they add directly to the bottom-line costs of running the business. Since every city, county, and state has its own levels of taxation, elections can impact how those governments view spending. Typically, businesses are looking for consistent taxation that doesn’t have major spikes and where the dollars are being spent in ways that will grow the economic vitality of the area. Often infrastructure spending is seen in a more positive light by business owners because of how important roads, bridges, and utilities are to growth.
What tone do newly elected officials take towards business? Do they see businesses as a pot of money to spend or do they understand how difficult it is to keep a small business alive? Understanding statistics that show 45% of businesses close in the first 5 years of business would indicate how difficult it is. Politicians that work to nurture and grow new businesses will have a positive impact on the economy.
Did the elections bring into power people who want businesses to locate in this state and in this city? An example of this in Owatonna is the Costco Depot in 2020. Their corporate site locator was asked by the Chamber, ‘why did you choose Owatonna as your site for the new depot?’. Aside from being able to find the land in a location that fits their business model, they told us that they could tell the City of Owatonna wanted them here. They felt that the reception they received to their idea from city staff and the speed at which their requests were answered were excellent. This attitude is important for growth and starts with the council making business growth a priority.
Can a business owner understand the process of receiving permits for their operation? Is the process consistent and timely? An elected official’s perspective on these issues can dramatically impact how friendly an area is to businesses. This is especially impactful at the state and national levels where issues like mining can be stalled for decades.
National issues like inflation are also impacted by policies set forth by those who represent us. For example, people who were watching the Covid stimulus packages knew inflation was going to follow. Those decisions to influx the economy with money created more spending and higher demand shooting prices upwards. Inflation is now one more challenge business must navigate.
Health insurance costs, workforce shortages, fuel prices, and infrastructure investment, all impact a business’s success. Which is why elections matter. The way each issue is handled and from which perspective will set the course for how we deal with them.
It’s early to know how the most recent elections will impact businesses’ vitality, especially on the large scale of state and federal politics. It is always our work, on behalf of the Owatonna business community, to work on important business issues with elected leaders of any affiliation to create a prosperous future for businesses.