Archive for February, 2015

Michigan Business Law Update: House Bill to Create “Application Fairness” for Felons

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

House Bill  4208 would create the “Michigan Application Fairness Act” – you can see the text of the bill that was introduced into the Michigan House on February 17, 2015

Under the Bill,

An employer shall not make or use an initial application for employment that elicits or attempts to elicit information concerning conviction of a felony”

This Bill has some teeth to it, in the event that an applicant has been required to provide their felony history, a court could award damages and recovery of attorney fees.

This Bill is intended to promote the integration of those convicted of felonies back into the work force.

As I’ve previously mentioned, and it certainly deserves reiterating, there are a number of great companies who reach out to support putting Michiganders with certain employment barriers to work.  Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids lead by CEO Kathy Crosby does a fantastic job of equipping this demographic and putting them into long term employment. Mel Trotter Ministries has placed over 100 individuals in their shelter into full time employment in 2014.

Some West Michigan companies who do a great job of reaching out to hire/place those with employment barriers are Proos Manufacturing and Fabricating lead by CEO Amy Proos and Cascade Engineering lead by (former) CEO Fred Keller. Others include Lacks EnterprisesKentwood Office Furniture and Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids lead by Janis Petrini  to name a few.

It will be interested to see the amendment process of this Bill through the legislative process.

Questions? Comments?



Lessons From Trial: Family Businesses and Disaster Prevention by a Proper Business Succession Plan.

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

I just finished up a complex and messy trial that spanned over a few weeks centering on a family owned and operated business.

The case involved multiple family members over multiple generations, and differing levels of involvement in the family business, and, as it turned out, differing expectations of the business succession plan once the business owner (Grandmother) passed away.

This case had been in court for years, and was the rare exception that did not settle before trial.

Why Didn’t it Settle?

Although the legal issues involved were complex – spanning corporate law, real estate, and probate and trust law, and related fiduciary duties, I believe the reason the case did not settle was only minimally related to the parties’ legal duties.

It was primarily the emotional and personal aspects of the relationship between the estranged family members  – the ups and downs – that spanned over Grandmother’s (Owner’s) life time.

I suppose the better question is, why was the case in Court to begin with? Posed differently, what could have prevented the fight in the first place?

Proper Communication Could Have Prevented the Lawsuit 

I read a recent blog post by The Family Business Consultant Group, advisers to family owned businesses, titled  “Communication in family enterprises: The role of assumptions” – you can check that out here

As I reviewed the article, I couldn’t help but reflect on the various questions that could have been asked between the parties  at any given time over the decades of the business operation.

If those questions were properly communicated (and of course, in turn, memorialized in writing) it would have lead to a mutual understanding of the business succession after Grandmother’s death.

A Proper Business Succession Plan Could Have Prevented the Lawsuit

Family relationships are complicated. They get even more complicated when the family owns and operates a business.

Current owners would do well to engage professional advisers-, legal, tax, accounting, insurance, etc.. in order to make sure business succession is not only are properly communicated, but also properly memorialized in a written plan.

Even if not every family member agrees with the plan, at least it is in writing, and properly communicated to all. This would go along ways to avoid a messy family dispute.

Comments? Questions?


Celebrating Entrepreneurship and Crowdfunding

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment

February is the time to celebrate Entrepreneurship.

The National Entrepreneurship Week is slated for February 21 – 28 – you can check out the National website here to see what’s going on nationally to celebrate entrepreneurship.

What’s going on In Michigan…

Detroit is currently in its Entrepreneur Week – you can check out some of what’s been going on here:  Also follow @michipreneur on twitter or visit their website

Every State Governor has issued its own Proclamation for Entrepreneurship Week. Governor Snyder issued a Proclamation declaring that February 18 is Michigan Entrepreneurship Week. If you want to check out more resources and see what’s going on in Michigan for Entrepreneurship check out these resources

While I’ve got your attention….

an update on Intrastate Crowdfunding Laws.

Crowdfund Insider just a few days ago published an article that provides useful information on the status of crowdfunding laws in various states.

Although Intrastate Crowdfunding laws have been criticized for their perceived lack of utility for startup businesses, this certainly isn’t stopping State Legislators from proposing their own crowdfunding exemptions. The latest proposed bills are tweaking areas that appear to be problem areas for states. Two observations based upon the new bills,

1. States do not want to be disadvantaged by not having a crowdfunding Exemption available for their startup business communities.

The 6 states that initially introduced Crowdfunding Exemptions has blossomed into 13, with 13 other states having bills introduced. Regardless of its critics, State Legislators want to encourage entrepreneurship. They see crowdfunding as a way to do that.

2. States without Crowdfunding Exemptions are listening to the critics and therefore are proposing bills that get around some of the problem areas.

Critics of crowdfunding claim that the costs associated with intrastate crowdfunding make it an inefficient tool. Also, the language in the earlier versions of crowdfunding laws limit the ability for certain real estate investment companies to efficiently crowdfund. In response, some States are proposing bills that increase the funding caps and make it more flexible for certain real estate investment companies to utilize the exemption, while at the same time maintaining fraud prevention measures (requiring significant disclosures to investors, requiring issuers to have all deals flow through a registered crowdfunding portal – that has government oversight and approval.)

Questions? Comments?