Political Notebook

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Small business meetings set

A bipartisan group of Indiana lawmakers formed to address the needs of small businesses will conduct a series of town halls across the state to give them a chance to meet with business owners and discuss what government can do to help their operations grow.

The Indiana General Assembly's Small Business Caucus was formed earlier this year by legislators interested in ways to improve the climate for the types of businesses that represent more than 97 percent of all employers in the state, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. A small business is defined as one with fewer than 500 employees.

The co-chairs of the caucus are State Reps. Terri J. Austin, D-Anderson, and Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, and State Sens. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, and Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury.

"Establishing a small business caucus has been long overdue and vitally important," Austin said. "It sends a message that we understand their needs are different from those traditionally associated with economic development in our state, and that a fresh approach is required. One of the ways we can help is by sitting down with small business owners across Indiana and work to see what we can do to build a better environment for them to grow and thrive."

Yoder added, "We know small businesses are vital to Indiana's economy and provide the most jobs to working Hoosiers. In the legislature, we continue to create and support initiatives that ensure Indiana remains a leader in job creation, economic development, and low business regulations. I look forward to listening and speaking with small business owners so they can help guide us in pro-small business legislation."

As of 2010, there are more than 488,000 small businesses in the state of Indiana.

The town meetings in August and September are designed to look back on what has been accomplished in economic development for small businesses in recent years, and consider the changes that are coming in the near future. Discussions will focus on the role government can play in helping small businesses run easier, with an emphasis on such areas as regulatory reform and education of the workforce.

The meetings will be held in Valparaiso, LaPorte, Seymour, New Albany, Columbus, Greensburg, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Greenfield, Bloomington, Carmel, Lafayette, Muncie, Anderson, Terre Haute, Vincennes, Evansville, Washington, Kokomo, Rochester, South Bend and Elkhart.

The Fort Wayne meeting will be held at the Georgetown Library Branch, 6600 E. State Blvd., at noon.