2019 State Policy Platform
At the heart of Minnesota’s prosperity are strong communities with thriving local businesses, a vibrant workforce, and smart public investments where communities support the local businesses and the local businesses support the communities. A 21st century development strategy requires looking to tactics that support the workforce, a strong culture of entrepreneurship and the growth of small, local businesses.
Main Street Alliance of Minnesota’s 2019 State Policy Platform focuses on strategies that target support for small businesses and their employees in acknowledgment of the interdependent relationship between a community’s economic and environmental health and the success of the small businesses that bring their cities, towns, and communities together. In addition, many of these strategies are equalizers that will enable smaller “main street” businesses to better compete with larger businesses.
Health Care Reform
The high cost of health care is creating an increasing strain on businesses, families, and our state budget. We need to strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act for individuals and small businesses. We support legislation to allow individuals and small businesses to buy into MinnesotaCare as an additional, public health insurance option.
Public Investment in Main Street Businesses and Local Economies
Small businesses need a tax and budget system that prioritizes strong, equitable public investment over corporate profits and increasing inequality. For Main Street to prosper, our customers must have disposable income to circulate in local businesses and local economies. And our communities must have the schools, health care facilities, roads, bridges, safe drinking water systems and clean environment to sustain business activity and a thriving workforce.
Main Street Alliance of Minnesota recognizes an important relationship between a stable, supported workforce and accessible, affordable, high quality child care. Child care is a cornerstone of ensuring a healthy economy. Investments should be increased in affordable childcare options and flexible funding streams.
Wall Street is driving a race to the bottom on job quality, harming workers and high-road small businesses alike and increasing racial and gender disparities. It’s time to level the playing field through common-sense standards that increase job quality across the board. These high-road employment programs are a win-win, improving employee recruitment and retention, lowering training costs, growing consumer demand, and supporting local economies.
Paid Family and Medical Leave:
Main Street Alliance of Minnesota supports the establishment of a statewide, publicly-administered, family and medical leave insurance program. A statewide insurance program will level the playing field for small “main street” businesses and make Minnesota more affordable for and attractive to young professionals and working families.
Main Street Alliance of Minnesota recommends that the state establish a public retirement option and make it available to all those employed by businesses that do not currently offer access to a privately administered retirement plan. Many small business owners do not currently have or provide a retirement plan to their employees. The public option should be accessible to sole proprietors, small business owners, and their employees.
Earned Sick and Safe Time:
Main Street Alliance of Minnesota recommends statewide legislation to make sure all Minnesotans have access to a basic level of accrued sick and safe time.
Economic Development for Main Street Businesses
Our businesses grow in places where people can live, work, and prosper -- and, with smart public investment and access to capital, we help grow those communities.
The state and cities should use economic development funds to create new programs and support for small businesses to make it easier for all business owners, but especially businesses of color, to start and grow their businesses - such as a revolving loan fund, improved procurement policies, tourism promotion, and increasing the availability of viable commercial spaces where small businesses can flourish.
Revolving Loan Fund
Provide financial assistance to new and existing businesses for the purpose of helping businesses grow and prosper. Businesses should be able to use the funds for new construction, renovation, equipment, infrastructure, and job growth.
Investing in Entrepreneurship through Fellowships
The city/ state state should assist in the creation of new small businesses or the physical expansion of existing small businesses in targeted commercial corridors by providing forgivable loans to qualified applicants.
Increasing the Availability of Viable Physical Spaces for Small Businesses
- Help connect small businesses with affordable commercial property, which is increasingly difficult to find, by:
- Connecting landlords with local small businesses.
- Requiring development projects to include affordable retail, office, and industrial spaces.
- Helping tenants buy their own buildings by providing financial planning assistance and financing.
Clear race and gender-based disparities exist across measures of business ownership, growth and longevity, which reflect historical and current systemic barriers. Local and regional government dollars used for contracting, consulting and procurement should be proportionate to the demographics in our communities for equitable economic development. Every level of government should work to increase local procurement efforts and reduce barriers to contracting with minority owned and local businesses.
With a tight labor market, the state should create a program to connect job seekers to employers. Investing in training and support to businesses preparing for the age of technology and new job skills needed as well as training for employing folks coming from incarceration
Outreach & Communication
Every level of government should have proactive, widespread communication and outreach to small businesses about the programs and services that already exist to support them-from loans and technical assistance to recycling and energy grants. Particular emphasis should be placed on informing our underserved communities about opportunities for investment or public support.
Inclusion for Immigrants
Many of our communities are thriving thanks to immigrant entrepreneurs and employees. With immigrants leading the launching of new businesses in our country, workers count on the jobs immigrants create. But the current immigration system is failing our small businesses, failing our economy, and failing our country. It favors unscrupulous large corporations over Main Street small businesses that rely on a stable workforce and communities that are safe for all residents.