Lending an Ear to Ohio Small Business Owners

Jackiethia Butsch

Engaging with small business owners on a topic like healthcare is never an easy thing. The terminology is complicated, the law is complex and it’s an incredibly personal issue for many people. What is easy, however, is listening to small business owners’ concerns, and talking them through. Everyone wants to be heard.

So that’s exactly what Small Business Majority did on Feb. 21 and 22 in my home state of Ohio. We held three separate roundtables in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, co-sponsored by local chambers and business groups, along with the Department of Health and Human Services. And we just listened.

When people listen and ideas are expressed, good things happen. We talked about the things small business owners hear on the news or around town—things that scare them about the new law, or make them angry. And more times than not we dispelled a lot of that talk as rhetoric or myths. We got into the nitty gritty of how the law actually impacts small employers, and what they can do to reap benefits from it, if possible.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty with VP Rhett Buttle and Sol Ross of the HHS at our Columbus ACA roundtable

At one point during the two-day whirlwind of events, Sol Ross, Director of Business Outreach for the Department of Health and Human Services, gave out his personal email address to the attendees, so anyone with a question about the new law could reach out directly to someone in the know. No middleman, no information hotline, just direct access.

And while healthcare is, as I mentioned earlier, a very personal issue for many folks and can certainly get people hot under the collar, raised voices or angry words never made their way into our dialogue. Like I said, when people take the time to listen to each other and focus on the facts, not the rhetoric, good things get done.

At the conclusion of every roundtable, my colleagues and I were approached by business owners asking about future events—which tells me the small business community needs more of this. Well, Small Business Majority is happy to oblige. Stay tuned for roundtables coming to your area this year, and if we don’t have something set up in your state, let us know you want the opportunity to be heard. We’re good listeners.