Resolve To Be Engaged
By: Fred Morgan
Happy New Year my fellow Rotarians. Every year, I reflect on the previous year and create a list of resolutions or goals for the new year. Like most people, I accomplish some while I fail miserably on others.
With a tumultuous, divisive election behind us, it is once again time for all of us to return to improving our community, state and country, working to being successful in our jobs and businesses, and ensuring our families are healthy and our children are properly educated. In the Rotary tradition of civic engagement, I would like to suggest the following resolutions for the business leaders of our state.
Resolve to be informed. Most business owners and executives closely monitor the impact taxes, regulations and other government mandates have on their competitiveness, which is good. But most business leaders fail to share this information with an important stakeholder group that is deeply invested in the success or failure of the enterprise: their employees. Research shows the most trusted source of information about public policy issues that impact an employee’s job security is their employer, which is why management should resolve to provide frequent updates on government incentives which impact their business. Just be sure NOT to cross the legal line of encouraging employees to vote for or against a specific candidate.
Resolve to educate public policy makers. Accept that elected officials and agency directors do not have even the most rudimentary understanding of your business and the impact government regulations and rules can have on it. While trade associations and lobbyists are highly effective advocates, the best lobbyists for any business are its management and employees. Moreover, most good public servants welcome your input. They want to know how proposed policies will affect jobs and the economy for the people they represent.
Resolve to build better relationships with your elected officials. It is important to your business to know the people who will make decisions affecting your business. In business, relationships are important. This is true in politics as well. Every business owner or executive should get to know their local, state and federal lawmakers. In fact, it is smart to invite them to visit your business to show them what you do. Some businesses go a step further and prepare a one-page summary of their overall economic impact, including: the number of employees, total payroll and benefits, median salary, capital investments, taxes paid and charitable and volunteer contributions. Do not assume political leaders will understand the valuable contributions you make to building a stronger community, state and nation.
In every poll, jobs and the economy are the issue people care about the most. However, it is up to you to tell your story. If you do not resolve to defend your business, the free enterprise system and the broader economy, who will?