Owners of small business groups will test US Senate candidates in a series of forums

An organization representing small business owners across the state will sponsor three roundtables with future candidates in the U.S. Senate race this fall, starting with one in Madison on Wednesday.

The events are not debates, says Sean Fateplace, regional manager in the Midwest of the Main Street Alliance, who is organizing the sessions. They are structured to give small business owners in the organization the opportunity to ask Senate candidates about policies that are important to them.

The non-partisan Main Street Alliance supports the economic relief of small businesses through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed in March 2021.

“There are our members who would have lost their jobs if it weren’t for the American rescue plan,” Phetteplace said.

Founded in 2008 and with members in all 50 states, the Main Street Alliance has been active for more than two years in Wisconsin, where its membership has grown to 500 businesses. This has become apparent in its advocacy for positions that some other business groups have ignored or even rejected.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, “the last few years have been really difficult for small businesses,” says Phetteplace. “This is exposed to long-term challenges in the provision of health care, childcare and paid leave [for employees] and in capital access. ”

Alliance members are “high-level employers” who maintain better wages and benefits for their employees, he said. The alliance has backed the expansion of Medicaid in Wisconsin under the Affordable Care Act, which the Republican majority in the state legislature has so far blocked, for example.

“Good business requires us to look beyond short-term profits and operating business practices and instead focus on investing in our employees and communities,” the Alliance said on its website. “Methods that create a fair, equitable and sustainable environment lead to prosperous economies and small businesses.”

On national levelThe Alliance advocates stronger antitrust and tax fairness, including “fair taxation, which is no longer in favor of large corporations, and to ensure that we have the revenue needed for stable public investment,” the organization said. .

The candidate roundtables are held in collaboration with the Wisconsin Farmers’ Union. The events are:

  • Wednesday, June 22: Madison, The Coopers Tavern, 20 W. Mifflin St.
  • Friday, June 24: Milwaukee, Cactus Club, 2496 S. Wentworth Ave.
  • Wednesday, July 6: Appleton, Long Cheng Marketplace, 1804 S. Lawe St.

All three events will take place from 11 a.m. to noon.

“Part of the reason we chose the sites is to highlight the policy” that helped small business owners in the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, while presenting the case that “there is still work to be done” – as a complement of the revitalization of the restaurant fund.

According to the Alliance, seven primary Democrat candidates running against Republican Senator Ron Johnson will run in the roundtables ahead of the Aug. 9 primary: Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Alex Lasry, Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagami County Executive Director Tom Nehl Stephen Olikara, Peter Pekarski and Ku Lee.

Johnson initially confirmed he would attend, but later canceled, citing a conflict with his official duties in Washington, according to the Main Street Alliance. The organization says it has offered other dates for Johnson to meet with members of his small business “to discuss the same issues that are being published to other candidates.”

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