Entrepreneur with Park City ties steps onto the national stage
Maxine Turner feels the pressure of her responsibility.
Turner, owner of the catering service Cuisine Unlimited and a longtime business figure in Park City, was recently elected to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors. This summer, she will also take over as the chairwoman of the Chamber’s Council on Small Business. Both roles will allow her to work with leaders in Washington, D.C., to support and advocate for businesses in the Mountain West region and across the country.
She said it’s an honor to be chosen for the positions, but the mandates they come with weigh heavy. She knows her work will affect thousands of businesses and that decisions made in Washington have far-reaching impacts.
"That really gives me an opportunity to have a voice for small business, and to be effective," she said. "It’s so important to me that we make a difference, and it gives me the platform to be able to do that.
"But it’s a big responsibility," she added.
Turner is taking on her roles at what she views as a critical time for entrepreneurs in the United States. She said there are a number of recent executive orders from President Barack Obama, other pieces of legislation and popular political ideas that could be detrimental to businesses. Examples include: a requirement that businesses pay overtime wages to salaried workers making more than $47,476 (up from $23,600); the $15 minimum wage many progressives are calling for nationwide; and the employer mandate in Obamacare that forces companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to full-time employees.
In Turner’s view, there is a sense of urgency for business owners to act now, and she’s excited to be in a position to lead.
"It affects us not only today — it’s certainly going to affect us tomorrow," she said. " I didn’t realize, as a small business owner, until I had that kind of exposure, the real impact that Washington has on us. That ripple effect really reaches every single one of us in the Mountain West."
For her part, Turner is working hard to ensure a bright future for businesses. An initiative designed to give entrepreneurs a stronger voice is among the things she is most she is most excited about. The project, called Cornerstone, is an effort by the Council on Small Business to divide the country into seven economic regions and address problems by region, rather than with countrywide solutions.
"What affects one region doesn’t affect another," she said. "They’re different entities."
The result, the Council hopes, will be that small businesses, such as those in Park City, are much more empowered to influence and shape the policies that affect them.
"We want them to be educated and aware of what it is that is going on," said Turner, who will travel to Washington, D.C., at least six times per year. "We want them to feel like they have a voice. I don’t feel like I’m speaking for just myself — I need to be able to speak for a lot of different groups. And therefore, I need to know what their concerns are and what is their biggest challenge, and what they want to see come out of Washington. That’s the kind of message I need to be able to take back to Washington."
Turner brings a background of participating in local business organizations to her new roles. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Park City Chamber/Bureau and on the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Governors. Her time with the Chamber/Bureau Board — on which she has served for four years — has been particularly insightful.
One thing the leaders of the Chamber/Bureau share with the influential people of Washington, she said, is a desire to make their communities the best they can be. She hopes to live up to that ideal, too.
"We hear so much about Washington and the dysfunction of that whole entity, and there’s a lot to be said about that," she said. "But I also know that, having been there, there are a tremendous number of people who really do care, who really are trying to make a difference. Some of them are legislators, some of them are the people who work directly with various agencies. They are a hard-working group of people."
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