Jeff Meland, owner of Databae Systems, is a member of Lakes Area Connections which is an organization that helps its members make business connections and get more customers. Its purpose is networking, business referrals and marketing assistance. The group meets every Wednesday at a designated location at 8 am.
By John Kirchner, Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Last month the business community had cause for celebration, as the Senate passed an historic, bipartisan infrastructure package that will make long-overdue investments in our nation’s physical infrastructure. Unfortunately, that bipartisan moment didn’t last long. Shortly after passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the Senate passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution on a party-line vote that calls for unprecedented expansion of government spending that will likely be funded by an equally unprecedented tax hike on businesses.
The administration claims its proposed tax increases will only hit big corporations and the rich, but the truth is these will be paid for by workers and families through lost jobs and lower wages. Furthermore, the majority of c-corps are small businesses, with 84% having fewer than 20 employees. The burden of these tax hikes will fall hardest on small business. Raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% will put MN businesses at a severe competitive disadvantage. If the corporate rate were increased to 28%, MN companies would face a combined state and federal rate of 37.8%. That is higher than the corporate rate of every other developed nation on earth, making it harder for MN manufacturers to compete with foreign companies.
The Biden administration also proposes nearly doubling the tax rate on capital gains, hitting approx. two-thirds of capital investment in the U.S. This will dampen investments in MN start-ups and hurt families saving for retirement or college or looking to buy a home. The capital gains rate hike would also apply to the transfer of assets of family-owned businesses at death. This would threaten the ability of the next generation to keep family-owned businesses up and running.
Raising taxes now will stop recovery dead in its tracks. Congress should build upon the momentum of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and abandon the partisan spending spree that leaves businesses holding the bill. Contact your representatives and tell them not to raise taxes that will hurt small businesses, workers, and families.
By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
More than ever before, communities are being marketed heavily to attract new residents. With the nationwide workforce shortage, communities are hoping to be the place of choice for anyone looking to relocate. Fortunately, the Alexandria/Douglas County lakes area is easy to market.
We have rolling hills, abundant lakes, wildlife and an array of parks and trail systems. We have visual arts, theatrical opportunities, extensive musical offerings and a variety of faith options. We have quality health care options, progressive schools and learning opportunities for all ages. We have a bustling retail community, a strong cross sector of industry and are conveniently located off I-94 between the Twin Cities and Fargo. Why wouldn’t someone choose the Alexandria area if they were looking to relocate?
Regardless of how many great things a community has to offer, none of it matters if the people who live and/or work there are not welcoming. The chamber of commerce, the economic development commission, the city, the county, local employers and others can all market the heck out of the community, but they won’t convince people to come here – or certainly not stay here – unless those people have positive interactions with others within the community.
It’s been proven in all areas of life that happiness is driven by relationships, not things. And while our area offers a lot in the form of “experiences,” relationships will trump that as well. So, what are you doing to “sell” the community? Do you smile at people? Make eye contact? Greet them? Hold the door for them? Thank them? Show interest in them? I’m not just talking about customer service in the workplace. Every one of us should be doing the above things every day everywhere – at work, at home, in the community.
If everyone who lives in Douglas County would make a pledge to do these few, simplistic things every day, I guarantee you, with all the other incredible things we have to offer, there’s no doubt people would choose us over other communities. Customer service often relates to business settings, but it’s a term that is universal and basically just comes down to being kind. Imagine being known as the kindest, most welcoming community in Minnesota! It can’t happen without you making the effort.
And now a note for those of you who are thinking, “I don’t want our community to grow – I like it just the way it is.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the frustration of crowded roadways, having to wait to get a table at your favorite restaurant, the constant buzz of watercraft while you are trying to enjoy a quiet afternoon on your deck. Consider what happens to communities that are no longer able to attract new residents. Businesses can’t find the workforce they need so they cut hours, cut services, or move to another area that fills their needs. Less money circulates, which means less investments are made on improvements at businesses, schools, parks and roadways. Things begin to deteriorate and eventually people already living in the community begin moving elsewhere where more services are offered, where the quality of community amenities is better, and – well – you get the picture. The community shrivels up.
Fortunately, Alexandria is a progressive, forward-thinking community, and it is unlikely that will be our future. However, it is something each of us should think about occasionally. And while you are contemplating that, also think about the role you play in marketing our community and pledge to become part of the community’s welcoming committee today!