This week, I had the opportunity to meet Josh Helton, head of the newly created Office of Small Business Advocate for the State of Tennessee. Speaking at a luncheon in Memphis sponsored by NFIB/Tennessee, Mr. Helton explained that his office was created to give small businesses in Tennessee (defined as businesses with 50 or less employees) a voice inside state government when dealing with the various state departments and agencies, a sometimes frustrating experience for small business owners.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed the legislation this year that created the Office of Small Business Advocate located within the Comptroller of the Treasury. The sponsors of the legislation wanted to “ensure that small business had a partner in state government and make every state department accountable to Tennessee’s job creators”. The small business advocate is authorized to informally mediate problems that arise between small businesses and state agencies. The legislation directs each state department and agency that has regulatory authority over business activity to appoint a person to serve as a contact for the small business advocate. The advocate will provide annual reports to the governor and lawmakers and rate state agencies’ responsiveness to small businesses’ concerns.
Mr. Helton is eager to hear from small business owners who may be struggling with issues inside state government or who may just have a question or need information and don’t know where to turn in the vast state bureaucracy. For more information on the new small business resource, go to the Office of Small Business Advocate website at http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/OSBA/index.asp