Section: BUSINESS Page: E1 Date: Thursday, January 22, 1998
SMALL BUSINESSES LOOK FOR SUPPORT
DAVID ORENSTEIN Business writer
Americans and the media underestimate the importance of small business, said a handful of small business advocates and local politicians who gathered at City Hall Wednesday.
Local representatives of the National Federation of Independent Business brought the group together to launch the Small Business Works for America campaign. The promotion's goal is to make sure consumers and policy makers are aware that small businesses employ almost 60 percent of the nation's work force and contribute to local charities and other organizations.
Timothy L. Carney, NFIB's Albany-based territory manager, said Americans still perceive America as being defined by its biggest businesses. He said the media perpetuate that by overreporting stories about mass layoffs and underreporting stories about small business success.
To boost local awareness, businesses in the area are being asked to display window and bumper stickers with the campaign's red, white and blue logo.
The NFIB itself may be grass roots, but it is by no means small. Last month, Fortune magazine ranked the 600,000-member organization the fourth most powerful lobbying group in Washington, D.C.
NFIB's New York lobbyist, Mark Alesse, expressed satisfaction at the state level.
``The past few years have seen some important changes in state policy that have helped small business,'' Alesse said.
But he said the group will continue to press for more help in reducing government-imposed costs this year.
NFIB is one of more than 100 business, professional and municipal groups pressing for lawsuit reform this year.
To discourage frivolous lawsuits, NFIB will press for state laws to force filers of lawsuits who lose to pay the cost of defending the lawsuit. NFIB also wants to cap jury awards at $250,000 and to place a 10-year limit on how long a company can be held liable if a person is injured by its product.
NFIB will also press this year for a reduction in unemployment insurance costs. Alesse said the state's liberal policy allows people to stay on the payments longer on average than in other states. He said restrictions should be tightened so that people who quit, are fired or are not seriously looking for work would not qualify.
Alesse acknowledged that some exception would have to be made for workers, such as construction workers, who legitimately go on and off unemployment insurance numerous times.
Attending Wednesday's event were County Executive Michael Breslin, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, County Legislature Minority Leader Peter Crummey and Assemblymen Robert Prentiss, Jack McEneny and Ronald Canestrari.