What do about 95 percent of Tennessee's businesses have in common? They employ 50 or fewer employees. You might even own, or work for, one of these businesses. Small businesses are truly the backbone of our state's economy and have an incalculable impact on our communities. Unfortunately, many of these businesses are the ones hurting the most right now.
To assist these types of businesses, and further enhance our state’s business-friendly reputation, the Tennessee General Assembly created the Office of the Small Business Advocate in 2010. I took over the position of small business advocate a little over two years ago.
As the name suggests, my job is to assist small business owners with various needs they may have related to state government.
During my first year in this position (prior to COVID-19), I spent a significant amount of time traveling the state to meet small business owners at various civic events. Some of those I met had questions about regulatory issues or enforcement activities conducted by state agencies. A few wanted tips on doing business with state government. Others needed basic information about the resources available to those launching new enterprises. Since the onset of the virus, many have had questions about various forms of financial assistance. In all of these situations, I have been happy to help.
My role is to help a unique group of people navigate state government—the group of small business owners across the state. While social distancing has limited my interactions with small business owners, I plan to continue sharing their concerns with officials across all levels of state government and will do my best to help solve day-to-day challenges when dealing with the state. But to do that, I must continue to hear from them.
If you own or operate a small business, please feel free to call on me for help. If you are not sure whom to contact or can’t find the information you need to assist your small business, I will get you to the right place. If you are facing what seems to be a bureaucratic mess, I’ll do my best to guide you through it. If a dispute arises between you and a state department, I can serve as your go-between in finding a reasonable solution.
Tennessee is a great place to start and operate a business for a variety of reasons, and we’ve been ranked as the #1 best business climate by Business Facilities magazine. We are geographically well-positioned. Our transportation infrastructure is strong. Our tax structure is favorable. We are a right-to-work state. And our regulatory environment is accommodating to businesses.
I want to continue building upon that reputation by working with small businesses to resolve the individual challenges they face and improve government in a practical, step-by-step way.