Small business, big business: Aid available for entrepreneurs

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A new report published in the Economist magazine gives Tennessee an “A” rating for its overall friendliness to small business.

This comes as no surprise.

During the last four years, the General Assembly has made significant changes to state law, making the process of owning and operating a small business in Tennessee less burdensome. However, from time to time, issues related to state government arise that can be difficult to navigate for a small business owner.

In 2010, the Tennessee General Assembly created the Office of Small Business Advocate. Our lawmakers wanted to address the bureaucratic challenges that small business owners may encounter. The Small Business Advocate serves as a point of contact to state government for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Housed within the Comptroller of the Treasury, the Office of Small Business Advocate has assisted with more than 1,000 inquires.

As the Small Business Advocate, I want to be a resource small businesses turn to when they have questions involving Tennessee state government.

Every day I work with small business owners to answer questions and provide information and, if necessary, serve as an informal mediator to resolve issues between small business owners and state agencies.

A small business owner may have been treated unfairly, or may believe a regulation is overly burdensome.

As the Small Business Advocate, my role is to serve as an informal mediator - working with both parties to come to a reasonable resolution. Each state agency that regulates small business has appointed a contact who works directly with the agency leadership.

We help ensure each inquiry submitted to our office receives the highest level of review.

If you are a small business owner with questions about state government or particular regulations, please contact our office for assistance. As the Small Business Advocate, my goal is to help make sure you can focus on the things that are most important to you - operating and growing your business.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Richard Wilson is Tennessee’s Small Business Advocate. He may be reached at (615) 401-7806 or smallbusiness.advocate@cot.tn.gov. For more information about the office, please visit www.comptroller.tn.gov/OSBA/. Additional local resources for Campbell County small business entrepreneurs can be found at the Campbell County Small Business incubator. Its website is www.campbellcountysbi.org.