On that date, a small business ombudsman is expected to come online at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Creation of the position was a critical component of the bipartisan job creation package passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly.
"While there is a natural tendency to focus job creation on large corporations that promise to put thousands of Hoosiers to work, our state needs to place a higher priority on helping small businesses across Indiana, particularly in rural areas where small businesses are the heart of our communities," District 44 State Representative Nancy Michael said. "According to the most recent statistics, Indiana has approximately 115,000 small businesses -- operations with less than 500 workers -- that employ around 1.3 million Hoosiers."
"The job creation package passed this session gives small businesses access for the first time to EDGE (Economic Development for a Growing Economy) credits for job retention," State Representative Joe Pearson (D-Hartford City) said. "It is equally as important that we give small business owners a helping hand in cutting through the kind of government red tape that can hinder their growth."
While the ombudsman will have a laundry list of duties, Pearson and Michael said the post will have two primary functions: Providing information of interest to small businesses and acting as an advocate on their behalf within the framework of state government.
"It can be very confusing to wade through the thicket of rules and regulations that detail the types of loans, grants and other forms of assistance that state government can provide to companies that are looking for help in getting off the ground or trying to expand," Pearson said.
"It is our hope that IEDC's ombudsman will be the person that business owners will turn to in order to better understand the rules and regulations of our state, and to receive help in filling out the paperwork needed to apply and qualify for state assistance," Michael added. "One of the common complaints that we hear from small business operators is that they receive no breaks and no one seems to be able to help if they have trouble complying with state regulations.
"Sometimes it's a matter of simply being unable to understand the lawyer's language used to describe a problem. Other times, it's a case of trying to find a way to wade through a mountain of paperwork."