Guest Column and Small Business & Startups

Small business quietly reaches surprising milestone

October 1, 2012
| By Rob Fowler |
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Small business jobs — a handful here, a dozen there — don’t usually garner the same headlines that the opening of a new factory or service center does. Nevertheless, since January the numbers are adding up to real economic growth.

Quietly but surely, Michigan’s smaller employers have been filling positions and reaching a surprising milestone — more than 10,000 jobs since January.

The Small Business Association of Michigan began tracking the jobs on a first-of-its-kind website,, which is a collaboration with Issue Media Group and other partners, earlier this year. In mid-September, the count was 10,100 and growing daily.

We believe it’s a sure sign of an economic upswing and evidence that business tax changes put in place in 2011 are beginning to work. The tally no doubt underreports the full, dramatic growth of small business jobs across the state, since not every small business whose work force is growing has reported its job gains.

Michigan in the past couple of years has put tremendous public policy tools in place, from business tax reform, to improvements in the regulatory climate, to a new emphasis on economic gardening, all of which help lay a foundation of entrepreneurial business and employment growth.

Small business owners are taking advantage of the improved business climate fostered by the changes to fill job openings and accelerate job creation. reports where the jobs are and how they are benefiting job seekers and communities. Every job has a story behind it and a person who will benefit from that job.

Although is not a scientific count of every job filled in the small business community, the website shows that job creation is occurring across a wide range of industries.

In the Grand Rapids area, for example, the tally at last count showed 104 jobs, including 11 new workers at corporate gifts/employee recognition company Baudville, several permanent positions and some temporary workers at DeWys Manufacturing in Marne, and 25 new people at the Goldfish Swim School located at 28th Street SE and Thornhills Avenue SE in Cascade Township.

No matter how big or small, blue collar or white, each new job is a step in the right direction and an opportunity for Michigan to advance its economic rebound.

Be they entry or mid-level, the jobs represent an opportunity for career growth and development for employees, and rejuvenation and innovation for employers.

Strength in numbers starts with a handful here and a dozen there, but they add up to something that should make headlines — 10,000 jobs filled in less than a year and more hiring certainty among employers who see Michigan as a better business climate in which to operate.

Rob Fowler is president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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