Published By Specht Newspapers, Inc
Who Is Lobbying for Your Business?
The Heartbeat of Northwest Louisiana Growth
A Q&A WITH TWO LOCAL LOBBYISTS WHO ADVOCATE ON BEHALF OF BUSINESS
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ON THE COVER
When someone mentions the term “Lobbying,” it is usually with a negative connotation. When someone mentions “Business Advocacy,” there is often a blank stare. Business advocates are essential in today’s lawmaking climate. They provide valuable information to lawmakers on behalf of their clients. Many times, poor legislation is defeated or good legislation is passed due to their efforts. Meet two local business advocates inside.
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12 Tourism History is Made with Opening of New Bossier Hotels.
7 11 15 Find More Online at www.nwlabusiness.com
The First Word ‘Associations” Can Make All The Difference
Un-Commmon Sense Marketing Want More Influence? Increase Social Media Marketing B-S Your Attitude Matters
From the Bossier Chamber Chamber Members Benefit From Lobbying Efforts Win-Win Powertools Lead By Example When It Comes To Service
Volume 3, Number 12
©Copyright 2013 by Specht Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved. Business Monthly is published each month by Specht Newspapers, Inc. at 4250 Viking Drive, Bossier City, LA 71111. Telephone (318) 747-7900. Information in this publication is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. BUSINESS MONTHLY| March 2013 | 3
PERSPECTIVE THE FIRST WORD
‘Associations’ Can Make All the Difference
Seven years ago, America experi- witnessed during that time stand as enced the worst natural disaster in a constant reminder to me of the its history. When Hurricane Katrina importance of trade associations. Every business has the opportunicame ashore just east of New Orleans, it left an unprecedented ty to belong to a trade organization. amount of damage in its path. Just when we thought the DAVID SPECHT JR. worst was over, levees broke along Lake Ponchartrain, flooding New Orleans and many of the surrounding communities. Even today, the scars of Katrina are still very visible in the Crescent City. During that time, I had the privilege of serving the Louisiana Press Association From local chambers of commerce, to (LPA) as its president. During strategic planning, we set state and national organizations, out to accomplish many different businesses have plenty of organizathings for our membership. When tions to choose from, and should take advantage of them. Katrina hit, everything changed. Trade associations provide valuWhile I was safely in Bossier City, my heart (and much of my efforts) able services to the members they were focused on southeast Louisiana. represent — everything lobbying Once we were finally able to estab- efforts at all levels of government, to lish communication with the folks at training and networking opportunithe LPA, I learned they had already ties. In our “tighten up,” “slim down,” begun helping newspapers in need. Many of the LPA staffers were hous- “boost the bottom line” world, we ing reporters, and others from news- might be tempted to drop memberpapers like the Times Picayune of ships in our various associations. This would be a short-sighted misNew Orleans. The staff worked tirelessly to sal- take. The LPA is not “unique.” Every vage “bound editions” of many small town newspapers in the affected business has a similar organization areas. These old newspapers were that brings much to the table for very some of the only permanent accounts reasonable dues. It is up to each and of history in their respective commu- every business owner/manager to find the right organization for them, nities. Once the magnitude of the and to take advantage of their servicdestruction was fully realized, many es to bring the greatest return on newspapers from outside the state their dues investment. Your business is what you put into began efforts to send monetary relief to their “bretheren” in Louisiana. The it. Joining a business association is LPA set up a non-profit foundation to one of those “no brainers.” help get the resources to those in need. If I were to list everything the LPA DAVID SPECHT JR. is vice president of Specht did in the aftermath of Katrina to Newspapers, Inc. Read his blog about leadership help the affected newspapers, I could at www.DavidASpecht.com He may be reached via fill every page of this month’s edition email at firstname.lastname@example.org. of Business Monthly. The efforts I
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Lobbying for Local Business BUSINESS ADVOCACY
Bossier, Greater Shreveport Chambers Make Business Advocacy a Priority BY SEAN GREEN
As a business owner, when there are laws that impact your bottom line, where, and more importantly, who do you turn to? Luckily, two local Chambers of Commerce have business advocates whose priority is to stay on top of what’s coming down the local, state, and federal legislative pipeline so they can help their members stay out in front of what could both negatively and positively impact them. Ashley Busada, Government Relations/ BYL Director for the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, and Lindy Broderick, Executive Vice President of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, are those advocates working for you. Business Monthly asked each person questions about business advocacy.
What do you do as an advocate for businesses at the Chamber? I work on issues that impact our business even when they don’t know it. I am on the front lines of the political and legislative process at the federal, state and local level to ensure that public policy decisions adequately take into account the needs of businesses. I am consistently monitoring activity, raising concerns and challenging proposed legislation, changes in taxation or changes in how businesses are regulated. Through lobbying efforts, special events, legislative updates, governmental relations newsletters and attending meetings,
information so they can relay our message.
What is the most important thing to remember when meeting with a legislator? Their time is limited!
the Chamber is the voice of business in Bossier Parish.
What are you currently involved in with Governmental Relations and what does that entail? Currently, I am preparing for the 2013 Legislative Session. This session is a fiscal session so the state budget will be the main focus. The Governor’s big agenda item is tax reform and repealing the state income tax. As a registered lobby for the chamber, I am currently monitoring bills to be filed for the session. Once our board votes on bills to support or oppose, I will be take that with me as I attend the legislative session. For those 2 months I will be at the Capitol everyday making sure our business community is represented and has a presence.
What is your approach to state and national legislators when it comes to advocating for businesses? My main approach is to make sure they hear directly from our business community whether that’s setting up private meetings, traveling to Baton Rouge or Washington D.C., having our members write a letter, or holding seminars
When talking with legislators, how important is coordination with your clients at the chamber? When I speak to legislators I am speaking on behalf of our 60,000 employees we represent at the Chamber. It is very important. I know exactly how our members feel on an issue before I speak to a legislator. Sometimes that involves me taking them testimony from businesses or showing them the impact to the business community whether that’s positive or negative.
I would imagine it’s almost a game scenario where you have to figure out a strategy and technique. Is that accurate? You definitely have to figure out the best approach when talking with legislators. It’s always important to make it local when talking with any legislator. Showing the impact or the potential impact of an issue brings it home and gives them information to use in committee meetings or talking to their fellow legislators. On a state scale, how hectic is it during the Session? What about when you fly out to Washington? I am entering my 3rd Legislative Session as a lobbyist for the Chamber. There are a lot of moving parts during the session and for me it’s important I stay on top of what’s going on because thing can change is a matter of minutes. A bill can change so much from being filed, to being heard and passed in a committee meeting, to finally making it on the floor for a vote. I have to always be in contact with our legislators and making myself available by being at the Capital. When we go to Washington D.C. every year to meet with our delegation, we must present the most important information to them first because they could get called to a vote in the middle of our meeting and that would be it. We also have to make sure we provide their staff with
Is there a common concern among the businesses you represent or is it as varied as the businesses themselves? On all levels of government, it’s important to all businesses that Bossier Parish has a sustainable economy that promotes business growth and job creation.
What do you do as an advocate for businesses at the Chamber? The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce uses a team approach to advocating for businesses. Our team includes chamber staff, Board members as well as our entire membership when needed. We advocate in support of legislation that will help businesses prosper and we oppose legislation that will hinder business or that has a negative impact on the business community. As advocates we have staff monitor the actions of local, state and federal legislative bodies. We have our Board leadership determine our positions, testify before these bodies, send written communication and make phones calls on those issues that our Chamber Board determines is in the best interest of the business community. Sometimes the issues are those that have a direct impact on everyone in our local community like the completion of Interstate 49 North.
See Advocacy, Page 14
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PERSPECTIVE UN-COMMON SENSE MARKETING
Want a Bigger Presence? Get a Social Media Strategy
You’ve got a website, a Facebook client you are talking to? page, a Twitter account and a great What kinds of information do LinkedIn profile. Everyone said you plan to share? Once you have you should have all of these things gotten clear on your target audiin order to market yourself and ence, you need to understand what your business online, so that’s kind of information they would what you created. But now what? find valuable. There should be a Problem: You get very little traffic to your website, AMY KINNAIRD and you’ve got very few Fans, Followers and Connections in your social networks. No one mentioned this scenario…what went wrong? What’s wrong is that you don’t have a social media plan or strategy to reach your goals. And if you don’t have a strategy, you might not have any goals yet, either! It’s mix of things – some may be not a matter of build it and they informative, some educational, and will come. If you want to build your some entertaining. online presence, you need to have a Who is going to be managing plan. your social media? If you are a Solution: Create a social media small business, it might be just strategy. you. Some companies put together What IS a social media strat- a social media team. Either way, egy? Think of it as an extension to your Social Media Manager needs your overall business strategy. It’s to be given time and access to just part of your marketing plan. It Facebook (and the other social netdefines the reason you are using works you use) during the work social media as a marketing tool day in order to do your marketing. and how you are What steps will going to use it. Here you take each day, are some important week and month to questions to ask get there? As a marwhen putting togethketing activity, social er a social media media time needs to strategy: be scheduled in each What are your day and week. Put business objectives together a weekly tofor participating in do list and follow it. social media? At the end of this Without a clear direction and rea- process you will have the basic son for being there, your time won’t information you need to create a be very well spent. Social Media Strategy document. How will you measure your suc- Take the time to do this so that you cess? Write down some quantifi- know what direction you’re going. able goals to reach such as “Add Otherwise, you may not get there! 300 Facebook fans to my business page” or “Increase number of comments on my blog to 25 per post.” AMY KINNARD is the owner of Uncommon Sense Who is your target audience? Marketing. She is a self-proclaimed Social Media You will have a varied audience, Evangelist. You can reach Amy at amy@uncombut who are you primarily trying to monsensemarketing.com. engage? Who is the prospect or
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MARKETING B-S (BOSSIER-SHREVEPORT)
Your Attitude Matters
In my past couple of columns, we recover from setbacks, knock downs have discussed the Top Five reasons and other events that cause most peofor sales representative failure. Last ple to stall. month, we discussed time manage5.) Inner Desire - top performers ment. In this column, we will take a have an innate inner desire to achieve look at another reason, a poor attitude. their goals. According to Webster’s Dictionary, 6.) Self Confidence - top performing one of the many definitions of attitude salespeople have confidence in their is defined as: “a feeling or emotion own abilities, they never doubt. toward a fact or state.” However they are not arrogant or More specifically, Webster broadens the definition in an explanatory manner from a psy- RANDY E. BROWN chological perspective: “a mental position with regard to a fact or state. Attitudes reflect a tendency to classify objects and events and to react to them with some consistency. Attitudes are not directly observable but rather are inferred from the objective, evaluative responses a person makes. Thus, investigators depend heavily on behavioral indicators of attitudes—what people say, how they respond to questionnaires, or such physiological obnoxious, just confident – there’s a signs as changes in heart rate.” fine line and they don’t cross it. They We have all heard it said that atti- just know they are capable of achievtude is everything. Conversely, in ing their goals. coaching, the great Vince Lombardi 7.) Trust - top performing salespeocoined the phrase “winning is not ple have trust in others – particularly everything, it is the only thing.” In their teams that support them. They sales and management, you can easily communicate well with their teams substitute the word “attititude” into and are often motivational and this popular phrase. As one who has encouraging. They are good delegators always managed and marketed from a to their support teams and use them motivational perspective, I could not appropriately. place a higher degree of importance 8.) Influencers - top performers upon this line of thinking! have a range of influencing styles that If our attitude is bad or negative, they can flex to suit any occasion. They we are not going to be successful at like to influence and they find it easy anything we attempt to take part in - and take control of situations which whether it is sales or anything else. require control. According to Paul Archer, Director 9.) Coachability - salespeople that of Sales Training at Archer Training, reach the top and remain so, enjoy and Ltd., attitude is the most important relish coaching from a sales manager. attribute of top performing salespeo- They are good at being coached and ple. Without a doubt, the wrong atti- they are willing and receptive to the tude can be heavily damaging. In so words of a quality coach. They know many instances, attitude is more how to accept feedback, quickly elimiimportant than skills. Archer believes nating criticism in their minds as conthat there are nine attitudes that all structive guidance. top performing salespeople share. In Coachable salespeople either accept an abbreviated summation, Archer’s or reject the feedback and then act on nine attitudes of successful salespeo- it quickly and decisively…and move ple are: forward. They don’t dwell on it. 1.) Determination - determined Let’s all make sure that we adopt sales people get what they want and the successful attitude components they refuse to accept defeat. described above. Furthermore, let’s 2.)Assertiveness - assertiveness in a make sure that we instill these traits salesperson, means being proactive in our employees and sales staffs in and not reacting to events. Having a order to help them succeed! plan and constantly/consistently drivCheck out my new blog site at: raning toward your plan. dallebrown.wordpress.com 3.) Responsibility - motivated salespeople take responsibility for everything – their own business, their RANDY BROWN is Advertising Manager of the Bossier results, their successes, their failures. They accept responsibility for Press-Tribune and a 11-year veteran of marketing and errors, no blame and no excuses media in Northwest Louisiana. He may be reached via 4.) Inner Strength - to be able to email at email@example.com.
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PERSPECTIVE INSURANCE MATTERS
Six Reasons to Boost Your Financial Literacy
What you don’t know about payments into your budget. Planning for emergencies. We’ve money can hurt you. If you don’t know how to create a budget, fix a all been faced with expenses that poor credit rating or invest in a can’t be put off―the car needs a 401(k) plan, you’re missing out on new transmission or the plumbing opportunities that improve your odds for financial sta- KARY LANDRY bility and success. Financial literacy—an understanding of credit, banking, savings and more—offers you the tools and information you need to improve your financial health and wellbeing. Here are just a few of the things that’ll be easier once you have it: Establishing a budget. If you don’t know where all your needs more extensive work than money goes each month, you’re not you were expecting. Find out how alone. Find out how to create a to plan ahead for these unwelcome budget and stick to it. It’s a funda- surprises and keep your budget mental step in money manage- intact. Sources for Improving Your ment. Managing debt. Carrying some Financial Literacy Go online to find resources that debt is normal, but too much debt can overwhelm your budget. Learn can help boost your financial how to address your most expen- knowledge. MyMoney.gov, for sive debt areas, particularly paying example, offers basic financial information gathered from a wide off high-interest credit cards. Buying a home. A home is the array of sources. Take a class or workshop about a single biggest purchase most people make in their lifetimes. Find financial topic that interests you, out how to save for a down pay- appropriate to your level of finanment, obtain financing and under- cial knowledge. State Farm® partstand the details of a mortgage so ners with programs around the you can make the best decision country that promote financial eduabout this major investment. The cation, including the State Farm U.S. Department of Housing and Financial Literacy Lab at Florida Urban Development offers informa- International University. Financial professionals are in tion for potential buyers on its site. Saving money. Whether you’re the business of helping people man16 or 60, knowing the best ways to age their money. The National of Professional save money will help you achieve Association your goals. Learn about basic sav- Financial Advisors can help you ings accounts, retirement accounts, find a professional in your area. Visit statefarm.com® to run the and how to make compounding interest work for you. Start with numbers. State Farm offers a variof online financial basic banking tips from ety calculators that can help you manCNNMoney’s Money 101 series. Getting a loan. Whether you’re age your money. going back to school, buying a car or remodeling a room, you might need to take out a loan. How much can you really afford to borrow? KARY LANDRY is a State Farm® agent in Bossier Learn how your credit report has City. an impact on the availability and cost of a loan, and how to fit loan
10 | March 2013 | BUSINESS MONTHLY
PERSPECTIVE FINANCIAL FOCUS
What Do New Tax Laws Mean to You?
As you know, the U.S. Congress has adopted some measures to help avoid the much-feared “fiscal cliff.” At this point, important spending decisions have been put off, but new tax laws are in place — and, as an investor, WIL ADAMS you’ll want to know just how this legislation will affect you. Let’s look at the impact of the tax laws on three different income levels: Up to $200,000/$250,000 — If you earn less than $200,000 (if you’re single) or $250,000 (if you’re married and file jointly), your income tax bracket will not change, nor will the tax rates assessed on dividends you receive from stocks or long-term capital gains you receive from selling investments that have appreciated in value. However, a 3.8% Medicare tax will apply to the lesser of your net investment income or your modified adjusted gross income in excess of the $200,000 or $250,000 levels, respectively. $250,000 — $400,000 — If your adjusted gross income is at or more than $250,000 (for single filers) or $300,000 (for married couples), your itemized deductions will begin to phase out, as will your personal exemption deductions, possibly resulting in higher effective tax rates. And the 3.8% Medicare tax will apply to part, or all, of your investment income. But your tax bracket stays the same, as do the tax rates on dividends and capital gains. $400,000/$450,000 — If you earn at least $400,000 (if you’re single) or $450,000 (if you’re married), you will be subject to the phase-out of deductions described above. More importantly, however, your marginal tax rate will rise from 35% to 39.6%. Plus, taxes on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains will rise from 15% to 20% — or, actually, 23.8%, when the 3.8% Medicare tax is added in. Consequently, you may have some decisions to make; at a minimum, you’ll need to know how the new rates might — or might not — affect your investment choices. For example, if you rely on bonds to provide a source of income, be aware that your interest payments — taxed at your marginal tax rate — will now be taxed more heavily. As for capital gains, the slightly higher rates now give you even more incentive
to be a “buy-and-hold” investor, which is usually a good strategy for most people. And the increase in dividend taxes doesn’t detract from the key benefit of dividends — namely the ability to provide a
potential source of rising income that can help keep you ahead of inflation. Keep in mind that dividends can be increased, decreased or eliminated at anytime without notice. Overall, the changes in investment-related taxes are probably less substantial than many people had anticipated. And in any case, taxes are but a single component of investment decisions — and usually not the most important one. Rather than let taxes drive your investment choices, focus instead on whether a particular investment is appropriate for your individual situation, and if it fits your risk tolerance, and if it helps you diversify your portfolio. Diversification can help you reduce the effects of market volatility, though it can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss. Still, the new tax legislation is significant, so you should consult with your financial advisor and tax professional to determine what moves, if any, you may want to make. It’s always wise to be upto-date on what’s happening in Washington — especially when lawmakers’ decisions can affect your ability to achieve your important financial goals.
FROM THE BOSSIER CHAMBER
Chamber members benefit from lobbying efforts
As a business owner, manager, Session, there are many moving employee, or community member, parts that identify how a bill your time is valuable. It’s crucial becomes a law. In general, a lobto have a partner who can listen byist serves by following the bill to concerns that impact your busifrom beginning to end to make ness and who work to understand and address ASHLEY BUSADA those concerns for the common good. This is where the Bossier Chamber of Commerce comes in. We recognize that for many of our 60,000 members, keeping track of the latest legislative development is nearly impossible. For these reasons and many more, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce employs a lobbyist who works on sure it serves the best interest of the front lines of the political and our members. A bill can look very legislative process at the federal, different from when it is first filed state, and local level to ensure to the time it makes it to the floor that public policy decisions adefor a final vote. Having a physical quately take into account the presence at the Capitol, providing needs of our business member’s the information to our legislators, concerns. and being able to provide our The lobbyist for the chamber members with up to date informaprovides a strong voice for our tion is why a lobbyist is important business community, working as to the chamber to best serve our the liaison between our members members. and elected officials. Our governTo learn more about how the ment relations committee works Bossier Chamber is representing hard to proactively track issues business, visit bossierchamber.com that might impact business at the local, state and federal levels. Through our public policy proceASHLEY BUSADA is director of Government dures, the Board of Directors votes Relations for the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. on which issues are the most important for our Chamber to take a during the State Legislative
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
WIL ADAMS is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He can be reached at (318) 549-9155. BUSINESS MONTHLY| March 2013 | 11
New hotel opening marks milestone for Shreveport-Bossier
DONECIA PEA When the state’s only dualbranded hotel opens on Wednesday, March 6, the event not only will represent the newest addition to the lodging industry, but it will mark a milestone for Shreveport-Bossier. The arrival of Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton will bring the area’s hotel room count up to 10,000 rooms, making the Shreveport-Bossier a more appeal- 20, the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton offers ing destination for large convenguests centralized accessibility to tions, meetings and other events. restaurants and attractions in the “We are thrilled that the openarea, including casinos, museums, ing of our new upscale combinaalligator parks, gardens, and tion hotel and event center marks more. With this new hotel openthe 10,000th room threshold,” said ing, the Shreveport-Bossier area is Sandra Haynes, director of sales ready to showcase all northwest & marketing for Hilton Garden Louisiana has to offer groups and Inn & Homewood Suites by large conferences. Hilton. Occupancy in ShreveportThe celebration will include an Bossier lodging has continued to invitation-only grand opening VIP outperform national averages reception featuring live music, since 2002, and has significantly full-scale buffet-style dinner and outperformed the national average an open bar. since the beginning of the “Great “A lot of large conventions will Recession” that started in 2008. not consider a destination unless Currently convention and meetthere are 10,000 rooms or more. ing attendees comprise up to 17 Now, we are able to approach percent of total lodging in the those meeting planners that were area, according to the 2011 unavailable to us before,” Dianna Lodging Report by Randall Travel Douglas, regional sales manager Marketing, Inc. at the Shreveport-Bossier “Our focus is on providing Convention and Tourist Bureau exceptional service and upscale said. accommodations in order to fill The new Bossier City hotel will both hotels with satisfied guests feature a host of amenities and services, a 9,000-square-foot event who want to return,” Haynes said. “The combination property and space, additional meeting space, the Grand Dahlia Ballroom, a 24/7 event center gives new alternatives for local businesses and business center, free wi-fi, fullorganizations to conduct meetings service restaurant and bar, and and house out-of-town guests. on-site catering. Also, more rooms and desirable “The opening of the Hilton comoptions will attract new convenplex fulfills a need for upscale tions and groups and position accommodations and meeting Shreveport-Bossier for continued space in Shreveport-Bossier and growth.” makes the destination more appealing and viable for convention and meeting planners that may not have considered us in the DONECIA PEA works with media relations at the past,” Haynes said. Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. Situated just minutes from I-
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Why Business Needs Strong Affordable Higher Education
Governor Bobby Jindal has decade is at risk of not having the announced plans to dramatically skill set needed to make their busioverhaul the state tax code; his chief ness run. objective is the elimination of state According to a 2010 Georgetown personal and corporate income taxes. University report, 51 percent of the To offset this substantial CHRISTINE RAMBO reduction in revenue, Jindal plans to raise the state sales tax and remove some tax exemptions. Short on details but likely large on impact, this proposal naturally has created a mixture of both angst and excitement around the state, including among those in the business community. We can naturally expect business owners to weigh in on the jobs in Louisiana in 2018 will require tax proposal during the upcoming a post-secondary degree. Currently, Louisiana legislative session that only 28 percent of Louisiana’s workbegins in April. But our hope, at the force have such a degree, placing Shreveport-Bossier Business Alliance Louisiana’s workforce at 49th in the for Higher Education (SBBA), is that nation in terms of educational attainbusinesses will also voice their sup- ment. Nationwide we already have port for increased funding for higher 600,000 unfilled jobs, primarily in the education. manufacturing sector, because Since 2008, state funding for high- employers can’t find the right skills er education in Louisiana has been they need among the 8 percent of cut by $650 million, the third deepest unemployed Americans. state cut in the nation, and while Recently, Higher Education most states are turning the corner Commissioner Jim Purcell visited this year and either increasing fund- Shreveport-Bossier and presented his ing or leaving it at the same level, regional analysis of our higher educaGovernor’s Jindal’s budget has cut tion needs. He emphasized that for funding for higher education an addi- local businesses to have the worktional 10 percent. force pipeline they need, we must do The Governor is quick to explain a better job of educating our children, that many colleges will be able to off- right here in Northwest Louisiana. set much of this loss with a 10 percent Eighty-one percent of the people livtuition increase. But those schools ing in Louisiana were born here, and where students are highly price sen- 87 percent of our children in sitive, such as the technical colleges, Northwest Louisiana who go to colcould also see fewer students enroll lege will go to a school in our region. this fall as a result of such a price Our future workforce is here, and hike. We all know that higher prices it behooves all of us in the business often lead to fewer buyers. The community to act now to make sure biggest concern, however, is for those we have a robust and affordable highschools at risk of not meeting Grad er education system that will prepare Act goals; schools that fail to meet them for the jobs of tomorrow. Call them are penalized with frozen your legislator and let them know you tuition and an additional cut in state support higher education in your funding. We are told by the Board of region; our region and your business Regents there are four to five schools depend on it. around the state currently on their Grad Act “watch” list. So why should Louisiana businesses care if their local colleges are JOHNETTE MAGNER is executive director of the SBBA. strong and affordable? Because their workforce pipeline for the next
ON THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FRONT
Business Retention Key to Economic Development
Libbey Glass recently announced employees with the right skill sets, it would lay off 200 employees at its including providing content that Shreveport facility in order to remain highlights the positive attributes of globally competitive. Libbey believes the workforce reduc- CHRISTINE RAMBO tion will make the Shreveport facility more sustainable in the long term. While economic developers never want to see a company downsize, we do recognize occasionally a business must restructure its operations to remain financially stable and competitive. North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP), a regional economic development the region. NLEP recognizes that organization, along with its state and companies must be able to hire the local partners will visit Libbey’s cor- skilled employees they need in order porate headquarters in Toledo, Ohio to stay here and grow here. NEON in mid-March. We hope to get a better worked with Clement Industries in sense of Libbey’s future plans for the Minden to help them hire more remaining 500 jobs at its Shreveport welders as the company ramped up plant and work to mitigate the antic- operations, enhancing the company’s ability to be successful in North ipated layoffs. These layoffs also highlight the Louisiana. The State of Louisiana also recogimportance of a business retention strategy as part of an effective eco- nizes the importance of keeping the nomic development program. The businesses we already have while newest model for business retention recruiting new businesses to is called “economic gardening.” Louisiana. Since 2008, Louisiana Economic gardening seeks to create Economic Development, the state’s jobs by supporting, growing and nur- lead economic development agency, has made business retention and turing existing companies. In order to support our existing expansion top priorities. LED estabbusinesses, there must be clear com- lished the Business Expansion and munications and relationships built Retention Group (BERG). As a result on trust. In an effort to develop these of efforts by state, local and regional relationships, NLEP and its partners groups, most of the major job-creation conduct “Synchronist Visits” with projects announced since 2008 have existing businesses throughout North been business expansion projects. Of course, companies sometimes Louisiana, collecting data on companies in order to identify expansion close or leave the State for a multiopportunities, businesses at risk, and tude of reasons which may defy our community problems. The confiden- best efforts to retain them. However, tial information often helps NLEP NLEP and its various state and local and its state and local partners tailor partners are working together to nursolutions that can support an existing ture, retain and grow our existing company. Similar visits are happen- businesses. ing throughout Louisiana, conducted by other economic development organizations, chambers of commerce SCOTT MARTINEZ Is a certified economic developer and the President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership, and groups. Another NLEP business retention a nonprofit regional economic marketing organization. tool is NEON, NLEP’s workforce Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 318-677marketing program. NEON assists 2536. companies with recruiting the
BUSINESS MONTHLY| March 2013 | 13
Advocacy: Lobbying more than just talking with lawmakers Continued from Page 5
What is your approach to state and national legislators when it comes to advocating for businesses? The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce has a long established, systematic approach to being advocates for our businesses on the state and local levels. We first survey our membership to determine what issues affect them the most. We use the survey responses to guide us in determining more specific issues being considered by the State Legislature and by the United States Congress. Once we’ve identified specific pieces of legislation, we have a team of volunteers (the Legislative Policy Committee) review and make recommendations on what positions we should take. We then ask our Board of Directors to ratify our positions in support or opposition to each specific issue. We then begin communication with elected officials on our positions and encouraging the action we would like for them to take. At the same time, we are educating and alerting our members of any action taken by elected officials so that our businesses can get involved in contacting elected officials directly.
When talking with legislators, how important is coordination with your clients at the chamber? It is extremely important, when talking to legislators, that we know with confidence that we are expressing the desires of the majority of our members. It is also important for legislators to know that we are speaking on behalf of the more than 1,800 employers whom we represent and who are members of our chamber.
When discussing issues with a legislator, how important is strategy and technique? The most important tool in government relations and in being an advocate for our members is to always tell the truth no matter the strategy or the technique. It is important that we research all sides of an issue so that we can support our arguments with facts and statistics. Being able to relay “real life” also helps legisla14 | March 2013 | BUSINESS MONTHLY
tors understand how their decisions affect specific businesses. Strategy and technique is simply knowing all of the procedural moves and steps with which a piece of legislation must go through when maneuvering through the legislative process. When armed with this knowledge, you can effectively communicate your needs through each step in the process.
On a state scale, how hectic is it during the Session? What about when you fly out to Washington? Things are very intense and hectic during the nine to thirteen weeks that the Louisiana legislature is in session. Legislative items can move and change on a moment’s notice so we must be vigilant in watching each piece of legislation that is important to us. Some days there will be multiple pieces of legislation all receiving their committee hearings on the same day at the same time which requires us to literally go from one meeting room to another simultaneously to keep up with them all. As we are actually participating in, watching and listening to committee testimony, we are also trying to talk to legislators who serve on those committees and stay ahead by visiting with legislators in the halls in advance of floor hearings. It is necessary to contact legislators when and where you are able to before, during typical business hours. It is not unusual for legislators and those working the legislative process to put in 12 or more hours per day during legislative sessions.
Washington D.C. is an entirely different story. Each “session” of congress covers a two-year period therefore federal legislation takes longer to move through the process. Most advocacy work in Washington D.C. takes place during office hours with pre-arranged office appointments. It is not unusual to work directly with the members of staff since there are too many issues for one member of congress to keep up with on their own. They rely heavily on their staff experts for guidance. We will work for months on legislation on the national level. National level advoca-
ment. One speaker I heard at a business conference in Washington D.C. last week stated “Just turn us loose and let us make it happen” referring to how to revive the economy and increase jobs.
cy requires many emails, phone calls and often times trips to Washington D.C. for face-to-face meetings and testimony.
What is the most important thing to remember when meeting with a legislator? Be brief, yet clear and concise. First, express to them what you are asking them to do. Ask if they are familiar with or have they made a decision on how they feel about this particular issue. If they have already made a decision and it differs from your position, ask if they would like more information from a different perspective. If they are willing to listen, use your strongest facts and examples that help the legislator view the issue from your prespective. Once you’ve presented the facts; LISTEN! Ask one last time for a firm commitment on how the legislator intends to vote. And always be respectful. Is there a common concern among the businesses you represent or is it as varied as the businesses themselves? Common concerns among businesses include government mandates that affect their ability to do business; cost of higher taxes imposed on businesses; the increasing costs for health care benefits for them and their employees; and education – making sure that the workforce that they hire are well educated and able to perform the duties required for the job. Sometimes businesses differ in the ways we should achieve a healthy business atmosphere yet generally speaking, most businesses agree with less interference from the govern-
What is the most important thing for businesses to know when they approach you or the chamber to advocate for them? We know that individual businesses do not have the time to go to Washington D.C. or to the state capitol in Baton Rouge so their membership in the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce allows us to do that for them. They can be assured that we have thoroughly investigated issues in which we speak on their behalf and our Board of Directors has authorized and guided our positions on their behalf. We are only effective when we are confident in the knowledge that we are truly representing those we serve!
Any advice for a business looking to do this? One of the services we offer to the members of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce is guidance on how a member company can become actively engaged in the legislative process themselves. Often times we have had members who are interested in an issue that is specific to their particular business and not one that the entire Chamber might be engaged. In those cases, we can advise members on how to contact elected officials, how and who to send emails to; how to testify before a committee and how to follow a piece of legislation through each step of the process. Although we cannot be a “personal advocate” for each and every member of the chamber, we can certainly help educate them to be effective themselves in working the process. And, we are most certainly active advocates for those issues that businesses have in common and those issues that affect ShreveportBossier and Northwest Louisiana. SEAN GREEN is managing editor of the Bossier PressTribune and a contributor to Business Monthly.
WIN WIN POWER TOOLS
Want Better Service? Lead By Example
Darrell Rebouche is a friend who is on the administrative staff at Willis-Knighton. As you would expect, he and I got into a discussion about service and how important it is for all businesses…even a hospital. He shared with me that he is always looking for people in the corridors who appear to be lost. Regardless of his schedule, he stops folks with that “lost and worried” look to ask if he can help. Sounds good doesn’t? Darrell is a good guy. Wait, there’s more. After Darrell finds out their destination, he says “Come follow me. I’ll show you the way.” Darrell walks the customer to their destination and wishes them well. My friend Darrell is a super salesperson…I mean Hospital Administration Member. (Remember, I think we’re all in sales and selling all of the time.) He is looking for opportunities to help his potential customers. He
tour guides.” If someone asks where the restroom is, his staff is trained to show you the way, not tell you it’s down the hall and around the corner. Oh yes, Mark defines his staff as everyone employed at the dealership. The key to this story about Darrell and Mark is that they look for opportunities to help their customers and potential customers become clients. (Clients come back and develop a relationship.) For them, it’s showing the person the way and demonstrating that they care. What is it for you? Do you look for ways to help? Do you have a service plan….a “Follow Me” plan? The better question may be…Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Do you want customers, clients, patients and prospects to see you differently from the competitive crowd?
knows that most of us have a choice of where to shop and buy. He wants his customers to feel great about their choice and recommend it to others. Business aside, he really cares. Mark Johnson is the GM at Holmes Honda; he focuses on building Loyalty so their customers will continue to buy and to recommend the dealership to others. Mark specifically works at building Loyalty. One of his Loyalty steps is “We are not travel agents. We are
The way the company treats its employees is the way the employees will treat the customers of the establishment.
Motivational Speaker I know that I do!
JERRY FRENTRESS — Speaker & Coach, Win-Win Power(ful) Tools for Sales, Service and Employee Interviewing. Website: www.WinWinPowerTools.com. Business Facebook:
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