The Alabama Small Business Commission (ASBC) serves as an advisory body formulating policies, encouraging innovation, and discussing critical issues relevant to the economic growth of small and independent businesses in Alabama. The ASBC’s aim is to help businesses of 50 employees or fewer grow and operate more efficiently and effectively by providing informational resources specifically for small businesses. It is the first known entity of its kind in the United States. The ASBC is headquartered in Montgomery, Montgomery County.
Small Business Commission Ceremony The commission was created in September 2014 by Gov. Robert Bentley as part of the executive branch. When Bentley assumed office in 2011, the state was still recovering from the Great Recession. He established the ASBC to counter high unemployment and underemployment and frequent business closings around the state.
The commission consists of an advisory committee and commission members. The governor sits on the commission and appoints the advisory committee chairman, who also chairs the commission. The chairman also serves as the state director for the Alabama branch of the National Federation of Independent Business, a largely Republican-leaning organization that lobbies lawmakers on behalf of businesses.
The advisory committee consists of an executive agency head, economic development leader, or other corporate and association representatives as well as the commissioners of the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor; the secretary of the Department of Commerce; representatives of the Alabama Association of Chambers of Commerce, the Economic Development Association of Alabama, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the Alabama League of Municipalities, the utility industry, and the Alabama Community College System. The governor may also make additional appointments. Collectively, the members provide technical support and informational resources to the commission.
The commission is made up of a minimum of 22 representatives who serve as liaisons between small businesses and the state. They each either own or manage a small or independent business in a variety of industries, including agriculture, automotive, banking, construction, forestry, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and trucking and represent each state congressional district. Of these, the governor appoints 15 people, and the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the Senate each make two appointments. Members serve at least a two-year term with the option of a two-year reappointment. Representatives of the commission serve on a voluntary basis and do not receive any operational funding. All of the services are provided at no cost to the business or taxpayer.
The ASBC aims to serve small business owners and prospective owners, as they advocate and advise the governor on policies for business development in the state. The ASBC works to speed up economic development for small businesses, provide organizational advice, and act as an advisory body for small and independent entrepreneurs.
Since its inception, the ASBC has spearheaded the passage of several laws to benefit small businesses. The agency has also pursued initiatives with the aid of the Gov. Bentley and several divisions within the executive branch. The “Small Business Saturday Proclamation” deems the Saturday after Thanksgiving “Small Business Saturday” to encourage consumers to shop at local or independent businesses.
ASBC also created the “Atlas Alabama” website that aims to offer small businesses information on state licenses, taxes, loans, healthcare, funding, insurance, and other information in each of the state’s 67 counties. In addition, it aims to provide a comprehensive list of other national and state resources to assist small business owners. With more than 400,000 small businesses in Alabama that collectively account for 75 percent of jobs in the state, this website serves as a centralized information hub for small business owners and a public forum for the community to submit recommendations to the commission. This website archives small business forum web conferences, press releases, legislation, and executive orders that are relevant to small business owners. Furthermore, the ASBC is working to build an informational web presence for every city and county in Alabama so businesses can access data regarding their respective population size, economic development initiatives, local government, and areas for growth. Since December 2015, the commission has published an annual report for the governor that details achievements and impact of the ASBC’s efforts.