North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

July 23, 2010

Business AdVise: Looking Forward to the Business of Business

By Teresa Vise
The North Jefferson News

NORTH JEFFERSON — Representing our Chamber here in Fultondale, I was able to attend the 2010 Governmental Affairs Conference hosted by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). With the title of “Looking Forward to the Business of Business,” I knew that it would be time well spent. I was not disappointed, and the opportunity to meet many of our Alabama Legislatures up close and personal was a rare opportunity.

Many of our representatives were present, and please know that they are hard at work for all of us here in the north Jefferson area.  

BCA remains committed to a pro-business legislative agenda, and the content of this event maintained that position.  While key information filtered through multiple conversations, one point was loud and clear: The business community must take a lead in the political arena.

The members of the business community create the jobs, not the government anyway, so why would you not step up to the plate? The bottom-line challenge here is to remind business leaders that it is our responsibility to drive the synergy of post-election leadership and stridently remind them of their need to support business now.  

The event moved quickly forward with Gov. Bob Riley presenting at the breakfast event on Saturday morning. He reminded the audience of his consistent platforms to seek funding and support for economic development, to reform education needed to prepare the work force, and to seek ethics reform laws which foster healthy, sustainable partnership and growth.  

The governor also reminded the group that economic development is grounded in the creation of a product, adding value to that product and then selling it. Making his point that economic development is not gambling, he received strong applause.  

I have always been told to begin with the end in mind, and sharing insight into that effort were key note speakers Peter Hart and Frank Luntz. As a leading pollster and public policy expert, Hart has a legacy of shaping trends and is noted for representing 40 United States senators and 30 governors.

Luntz has been named the “Nostradamus of Polls” and is one of the most honored communications professionals in the country. The end that we should have in mind here is having our chosen candidate win the election.  To ensure that outcome, we must first step back and understand the mood of the country. As I have written here before, you can not lead where you will not go, and you need to know where you want to end up.

According to Hart and Luntz, there are some important feelings afloat out here, and now is the time to take note.  

Turning on the news, you are certain to hear about the oil spill, health reform and the occasional story about Lindsey Lohan, but polls show that the issues of importance are really jobs at 55 percent, energy and oil at 38 percent, and a big desire to cut government spending at 29 percent.  

Healthcare only hits the radar with 19 percent stating that it is a key issue, and 44 percent of those are not happy that healthcare legislation has passed.

There are a multitude of concerns floating out there that have the attention of the voter base. Think about the 36 percent that feel the recession will persist another two years, or the 33 percent that are concerned that they may lose their job. If you factor in immigration issues, it begins to get tough to see the end at all.

The mood is very anti-incumbent, with 57 percent favoring someone, anyone, new. About 50 percent just want a third party and to start up fresh. So many issues, so little time, but one thing is certain, the needle on the magnet is starting to polarize in a big way toward the independents.

Just who are these 23 percent of party neutral new voters?

The Holy Grail of voter this year is the highly coveted disenchanted independent voter. Is that you? Even more key, are you the coveted disenchanted independent who is pro-business? Not sure what good pro-business policy looks like? You can find some strong pro-business direction by going to www.bcatoday.org, where they weigh in on tax policy, right-to-work, public education, environmental and energy legislation, and common-sense health reform that will take care of current problems and not create new ones.

Where is Paul Revere when you need him for a call to action? What we need now is a call to become an informed voter once and for all. Don’t mark that box or pull that lever or hang that chad until you do a little open-minded research on your candidates. And if you don’t vote, for goodness sake, don’t complain.

Remember, stay informed to better take care of your customers, or someone else will.

You can find additional readings on my blog at http://businessadvise4u.blogspot.com. Teresa Vise works for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals and supports the Fultondale Chamber of Commerce. The next meeting of the Fultondale Chamber will be held for lunch on August 24 with Logan Hinkle, attorney with Burr and Forman, presenting on health reform legislation and how to prepare your business for the impact. Location and sponsorship by the Comfort Suites in Fultondale. Logan is an adjunct professor at Cumberland School of Law and teaches a course on ERISA and Employee Benefits. Please join us by calling (205) 337-1629 or send an email to visemedical@bellsouth.net.