By Loredana Carson
As we go about our daily life, laws are being made, bills are being sponsored, government officials are grappling with problems and politicians are building their careers on issues that are of great importance to the business community.
Everyone should pay attention to these public policy matters, but business leaders need more knowledge than many others as their future is connected to events in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., more than they might realize.
For example, they should become familiar with the art of sponsoring new legislation as well as the practice of advocacy on the part of a particular bill. Larger businesses have regulatory or government affairs departments but smaller businesses should also keep up.
One way is to join industry coalitions and get involved with groups such as the Workforce Investment Board for Ventura County, which provides experts, invites speakers to give presentations and publishes information of interest to businesses large and small.
The local chamber of commerce is a great source for policy information and can serve as a conduit to local political leaders who can help you with issues pertinent to business. Each senator and assemblyperson maintains a website with copious amounts of information geared specifically for businesses in the local area. Following elected officials on social media will provide you with relevant up-to-the-minute information.
Applied public policy is at the heart of what matters to businesses. When Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, sponsors a Small Business Resources Fair and Information Forum, local businesses win. When her work on the Cybersecurity Select Committee spotlights how technology has changed commerce and business in general, local businesses again can leverage that information to make better decisions. By keeping up with our politicians, businesses can avoid or mitigate bigger issues down the line.
Even issues that on the surface seem to have little to do with the business community end up being of vital impact.
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has several bills pending that will impact our water policy, which in turn will have an effect on life in this county for many years to come.
In addition, her office is tuned in to the needed legislative changes required in light of the Aliso Canyon gas leak. Her office is sponsoring new laws to change old, outdated rules that contributed to the disaster and will lessen chances that another leak could cause widespread damage as this one did.
The fiscal impact of both natural and man-made disasters significantly affects the business community. It is of great value to study what our elected officials are doing and to learn how to influence them by advocating for our industries and issues.
All these examples speak to the value of business owners hiring people with master’s degrees in public policy and administration, although it runs counter to conventional wisdom. Sometimes MPPA students tell me they are afraid that their degree will not be understood when they interview with businesses. People often look at MPPA degrees as best serving those interested in working in government or nonprofit management and MBAs being for for-profit business leaders. I tell students that it is their job to explain their degree and what value they can add to the hiring organization because of it.
Perhaps, someday, you will be hiring for a position and come across an applicant with an MPPA degree. I urge you to consider what this person could offer you. They’ve studied the issues raised in this column and more. It can greatly benefit any business to have someone on board who has spent time learning how the legislative world works and can translate that knowledge into action.
• Loredana Carson, who earned an MPPA from California Lutheran University in 2011, is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Management’s Department of Policy Studies.