Business owners weather area’s multiple storms


As the presidential election and the dominant candidate coverage draws to a conclusion this week, the Business Journal offers congratulations to business owners and CEOs across America for the fortitude and American ingenuity that transcends all the bitterness and divisiveness politicians heap upon one another.

The Michigan unemployment rate continued last week to ebb ever so slowly in the right direction, and business plan agendas for the New Year are nearing completion, defined by the necessary sense of optimism and tremendous creativity. These are the individuals who made the “tough decisions” and took quick action on budget reductions and spending, as necessary, while earning new revenue sources and bottom-line improvements during the slow recovery from a brutal Great Recession.

Businesses create jobs and business owners will continue to move this country’s economy forward. No others can.

The Business Journal offers comment, too, on a few political topics that have been divisive for more than a year, even as business owners steadfastly stayed focused on their mission statements.

The World Affairs Council early this month secured former Mexican President Vincent Fox as its annual dinner speaker. Fox pointed out to the sold-out crowd (which included the Canadian consulate) that no matter where in the world one might look, the North American continent remains the strongest economy, providing an anchor for all others and continuing market growth.

Parenthetically, Fox also discussed at length the tremendous impediments of the drug wars (noting that the largest customer base is U.S. residents) and offered solutions for Mexico’s ability to withstand the threats and continue to build in a free-market system. But that is for discussion in an upcoming blog.

Business owners have been assailed for more than a decade by double-digit increases in health care benefit plans — costs that inflate the pricing of goods and services that could not be sustained through the recession. Health care costs have inflated to almost 20 percent of the GDP, even before the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a government mandate at a time business can least afford such tremendous change (the affordability of health care at a time of record unemployment and its ramifications notwithstanding here).

The West Michigan region is a rarity in being able to have a grassroots impact on such costs and on health care issues, locally, statewide and nationally. The Alliance For Health is one of the few agencies of its kind left from the Reagan administration and has a long record of helping to keep health care costs lower in the region through the cooperative partnerships of business owners, health care providers and insurers who meet quarterly to review such issues. The AFH is a tremendous resource for its wealth of information and ability to bring all the players to the table for community-based solutions.

The Alliance’s First Friday Forums offer a plethora of information, debate and solutions the first Friday of each month. The Nov. 1 session features Varnum partner Carl Ver Beek moderating a discussion of who represents health care institutions as board members and trustees, their responsibilities and accountability — and impacts on prices.

Business owners have a continuing concern in this issue and have the opportunity to impact it from “home.”

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