Supporting small businesses in creative ways
Listening to yesterday's “State of the State 2007”
address you couldn't help but agree that when Governor Granholm speaks,
she spreads a lot of enthusiasm, cheer and positive energy. Rumor has
it she was once an aspiring actress. Her talents at the podium are
In her address, Governor Granholm
highlights several initiatives that could help small business in
Michigan. Unfortunately, nothing in her speech came close to what I
will term as the “Orabone model”.
back, my friend and maverick entrepreneur Bill Orabone proposed an
interesting idea worthy of pursuit. Bill suggested that the state adopt
a simple policy of putting its money where the mouth is, i.e. setting
aside no more than 2% of its buying budget to purchase products and
services from Michigan-based small businesses.
Bill has a selfish interest in pushing his own products to the state,
but if his company’s products can save Michigan tangible resources
(say, by extending the life of the state’s roads), why not give it a
close look? I know that Bill struggled mightily to get the attention of
the right audience at MDOT in Lansing.
a venture backed small company based in Okemos, Michigan offers
software products for effective management of the insurance industry.
States like South Dakota, Indiana, Nevada, Wisconsin and Wyoming have
all bought their products. I did not see Michigan on their list. If
insurance regulators from 15 other states can see the value of Sircon’s
products, why not Michigan?
Or take the example of Xoran Technologies,
a University of Michigan spin-off focused on selling mini CAT scan
machines. The company can sell their products everywhere, but not in
According to an obscure rule, the
state’s 'Certificate of Need' requirement stipulates that users of CT
scanners must demonstrate they will use the equipment for at least
7,500 scans a year. Per Xoran, most doctors don’t use the device for
more than 300 scans a year. Good luck, Xoran!
The Ann Arbor Business Review
carried a detailed article on the subject & funnily enough, six
months prior to this story, the Governor announced the expansion of
Xoran in Michigan via tax cuts. I am not sure the tax cuts would help
Xoran as much as common sense (in other words, a Certificate of Need).
are plenty of small businesses that would thrive in Michigan if only
the state would set an example by creating a “buying program”. Venture
Capital and financial programs are good but customer relationships are
even better. Giving small businesses a meaningful opportunity to make
their case --as opposed to tax breaks-- would stimulate the economy.
would also send a powerful message to companies considering a move to
Michigan.The state might even attract these companies without giving
away tax breaks. Or maybe, I'm just naïve…
a naive immigrant, Mahendra cannot vote for either Red or Blue but
strongly believes that government can play a positive role in
stimulating the economy. If you have ideas that can top the “Orabone
model”, please email them to Mahendra at firstname.lastname@example.org