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Ala. governor creates small business commission

September 15, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley followed up on a campaign promise he made four years ago and created a commission Monday to recommend ways the state can help small businesses get started and expand.

Bentley signed an executive order forming the Alabama Small Business Commission. He said it is in place of his 2010 campaign promise to have a Cabinet-level position in his administration to focus on small business.

“This actually does take the place of that. The commission is really better because the commission will be made up of all small businesses,” he told reporters after signing the executive order at the Capitol.

Bentley said the commission will be headed by Rosemary Elebash, Alabama director for the National Federation of Independent Business and a longtime advocate for small businesses.

Elebash said the commission will do more than write a report. “My commitment is it is not going to be another notebook on the shelf,” she said.

Bentley said the commission’s recommendations will be presented to the Legislature in 2015 and 2016.

In addition to Bentley, three other Republican officeholders, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, are making appointments to the commission. All four are standing for election Nov. 4.

Hubbard said the commission is a continuation of what the Republican-led Legislature has done the last four years to cut bureaucracy and eliminate red tape. “Our focus is to make Alabama the most business-friendly state in America,” he said.

Marsh said he ran for the Legislature in 1998 because he was a small business owner frustrated with dealing with government bureaucracy.

Some other states have appointed panels or high-ranking positions officials to help small businesses. For instance, Maryland’s governor created the Governor’s Commission on Small Business in 2010. It has a mix of public officials and private citizens like Bentley’s. North Carolina’s governor appointed a small business commissioner in 2010.

Bentley said he and legislative leaders plan to complete their appointments to Alabama’s 21-member commission soon and schedule the first meeting in October.

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