LANSING - Public Policy Associates, Inc. was honored as the 2009 Outstanding Small Business of the Year by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Outstanding Small Business Award recognizes a local company that has demonstrated stability, commitment to community, ability to overcome challenges, and commitment to diversity. The company was recognized at the Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner Wednesday at the Wharton Center in East Lansing.
"This award is a reflection not of me but of the amazing people who are PPA and the work we all do for our clients every day," said Jeffrey D. Padden, president and founder of Public Policy Associates, Inc. "I am fortunate to have talented, diverse, and passionate people who are committed both to our clients and our community."
Public Policy Associates, Inc. was created by Mr. Padden, a former state legislator, in 1991. Since then, it has grown from a two-person shop to a company with 27 employees as well as affiliated consultants undertaking important public policy research in Michigan, and around the country. PPA has conducted research and evaluation projects for Democratic and Republican administrations as well as for foundations, nonprofit groups and others. Currently, the firm is conducting a large-scale, four-year study of regional economic development strategies for the U.S. Department of Labor.
In Michigan, PPA has engaged in a number of projects with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, including its campaign to end homelessness, and it is a partner with the Department of Corrections and the Michigan Council on Crime & Delinquency in the nationally recognized Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative, which helps prisoners prepare for parole and gives them the community support and supervision to succeed after they return home.
Mr. Padden has spent more than 30 years in the public policy arena, including 10 years as a state representative. He has also held key roles with the Michigan Department of Commerce and as director of the Governor's Human Investment Project.
The firm embraces a culture that encourages innovation and flexibility. Last year, PPA was honored with the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. The award recognizes companies that use workplace flexibility as a strategy to increase effectiveness and yield better results.
"We are proud to be a flexible workplace not because of the recognition, but because it is a smart business practice," Mr. Padden said. "It helps us recruit and retain brilliant people who have lots of alternatives. We focus on producing high-quality work for our clients and understand that such work is not always produced between nine and five in the confines of a cubicle."
To promote camaraderie among the staff, PPA sponsors outings for staff and families to local Lugnuts baseball games—within walking distance of PPA's downtown Lansing office—as well as baby showers, wedding showers and other employee celebrations during office hours. The family atmosphere has contributed to a stable, nurturing environment where more than 60% of the staff have seniority of three or more years.
Public Policy Associates, Inc. shows commitment to the community in other ways. PPA staff volunteer their time to organizations such as the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition and the City Rescue Mission of Lansing. Mr. Padden hosts a Lansing Community College television show "Perspectives" and has played the trombone in the Lansing Concert Band for 20 years.
Mr. Padden has promoted diversity both within PPA and as a community leader. He was an active member and sponsor of the Mayor's Initiative on Race and Diversity, and served on the Commission on Race and Diversity, which promotes unity and understanding of race and diversity issues by educating the greater Lansing area community.