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"COSE poll uncovers stimulus package priorities"
by David Bennett
Published in Crain's Cleveland Business

A request by U.S Sen. George Voinovich to identify things small business owners would like to see in a revived economic stimulus package has given the council of Smaller Enterprises a chance to test technology with its first electronic survey of members.

The senator last month met with several members of COSE, the small business arm of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, to get their thoughts on nine possible stimulus package provisions that could help give a boost to the country's sluggish economy. Part of the discussion was based on results of an informal electronic poll that COSE conducted in February on it's web site, Of the 3,500 COSE members invited via e-mail to take part in the poll, 351, or 10% responded.

Results of the poll showed support was widest for a provision that would accelerate the pending reduction of the 28% personal income tax bracket to 25%, a move that under current law isn't scheduled to take effect untill 2006. In second place on respondents' wish list was a reduction in capital gains tax rate to 18% from 20%, and to make the rate available to all capital gains property held for one year or longer.

A local internet company, Acme Express Inc. of Cleveland, helped COSE in crafting the online polling option. Mr. Haines said the electronic polling tool would be used eventually to gather information from members to serve COSE's own agenda on such topics as health care and economic development.

Sen. Voinovich said he was impressed with what he heard from COSE members on several economic fronts.

"COSE is a good microcosm of the business community, a good cross-section," he said. "Obviously, (the online poll) is a great tool for us."

Sen. Voinovich is among a group of legislators who would like to reintroduce a middle-of-the-road stimulus package to congress. A previous version of the stimulus package died before Christmas in the Senate.

Chris Hess, who leads the Growth Association's political education and development agenda, said the online poll option should prove an effective communication tool for more policymakers seeking to gauge the temperament of the small business community in Northeast Ohio.

"We hope that other legislators come to us when they want to learn how small businesses view certain issues," Mr. Hess said.

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