Shelton, state officials discuss small business, workforce development

Small business and workforce development took center stage at March’s Demopolis Area Business Council meeting Tuesday at Batter Up.

The message from both speakers was loud and clear: Small business has a voice in Montgomery and at area institutions of higher learning.



Rosemary Elebash, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Alabama, told the group that Gov. Robert Bentley believes small business is the backbone of Alabama’s economy.

The governor recently appointed Elebash to serve as the Chairman of the newly-created Alabama Small Business Commission and the Small Business Advisory Committee. She said that group deals with “issues directly affecting your bottom line and makes recommendations to fix those issues.”

She shared a few examples of the group’s legislative agenda, which includes proposing legislation to:

  • Reform unemployment compensation to make it less risky for employers to hire new workers
  • Repeal more than 300 obsolete laws that hinder business development
  • Offer a state tax deduction for employees with Health Savings Accounts. Currently those deductions are only available for Federal income taxes
  • Relaxing small claims court restrictions for businesses in order to make collection of debts easier.

Following Elebash, the DABC heard from Dave Rodgers, Assistant Director of Corporate Training and Services at Shelton State Community College.



Rodgers noted that his department assists small business with workforce skills development through programs tailored to the specific business’ needs, and also offers assistance in improving workforce “soft skills”, including effective communication, problem-solving and job coaching.

He also noted that Shelton State can assist with business profiles, which helps businesses ascertain the level of job-related knowledge of its workforce.

He said businesses often “put people into jobs without giving them the skills to do that job.”

Rodgers mentioned Shelton State’s truck driving program, which includes a partnership with the City of Demopolis.

“We are not one of those for-profit schools,” he said. “And we are not one of those three-week programs. Those programs are basically producing accidents waiting to happen.”