When a small business owner has a passion for politics, he finds himself in a unique position to help other small business owners in their time of need. For former Michigan State Representative Steve Marino , being a voice for other entrepreneurs has been a source of great pride, and given structure to his three terms in office. In June of 2021, he was awarded The Small Business Association of Michigan’s (SBAM) Legislator of the Year award after a 100% pro-small business voting record. During the pandemic, Marino’s support was invaluable to struggling small businesses in Lansing.
Marino has found himself in a position to provide relief and opportunities for growth during his six years in the Michigan House of Representatives, which began in 2016. Prior to his time in the legislature, he was Macomb County Commissioner. SBAM was not the first to recognize Marino’s contributions to the economic growth of Michigan; in 2020, the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) declared him a Legislative Economic Development Champion along with nine other legislators.
MEDA, who collaborated heavily with Marino during his tenure in the legislature, describes themselves as a “professional society with members throughout the state that attract and grow business, create and retain jobs, and make our communities a better place to live.” MEDA’s recognition of Representative Marino cited his partnership with State Senator Ken Horn in pushing key economic development bills through both legislative chambers and helping to restore the Pure Michigan funding.
Previously a lobbyist and owner of a public affairs firm, Campaign Finance Strategies, LLC, Marino is a lifelong learner with a special interest in public policy. As he moves forward from his term-limited six years as a Representative, Marino plans to return to the classroom before assessing his next steps.
Although Marino already holds three degrees from Michigan State University, where he dual-enrolled at 16 years old, he is headed back to school this fall semester for his Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern University. Once his Master’s is completed, he is considering a JD/MBA program.
With BA degrees in Economics, Public Policy and Public Administration, and Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, Marino honed in on public policy as a career from a young age. Marino was elected student body president in high school and again at Michigan State University, where he served as the student liaison to the MSU Board of Trustees. He worked to create student representation in middle school and high school in the district’s “Community Action Coalition,” which was composed of administrators and community officials, giving him early hands-on experience in collaborating with various stakeholders in a project.
Steve Marino has said that he is “fascinated” by the role that private actors play in influencing government institutions and shaping policies for all of society. Heading back to school at Northwestern will give him further insight into how to handle future challenges facing those in the public policy arena. Marino is especially concerned with how to regulate emerging technologies, combating climate change in a fiscally responsible manner, and cybersecurity research and development.
Beyond his personal quest for growth and understanding, Marino is adamant that all public servants should perpetually continue their education. Proving that he is a man of his word, he is beginning his pursuit of additional degrees immediately.
Paving the Way for Future Growth
A high-performing member of his community, Marino has spent the first few years of his promising career paving the way for future growth in Michigan and beyond. Focused on creating an environment where career opportunities thrive, he is an advocate for vocational training and dual enrollment.
Touted as a team player, a relationship-builder, and a friend to business, Marino is only 12 years into a career that often becomes a lifetime commitment. With youthful energy on his side, Marino has the opportunity to accomplish much more as he enters his next chapter.
Marino has already proven that he’s looking out for Main Street through his authoring of more than 20 Public Acts that included bolstering economic development incentives, aiding small businesses, and promoting economic diversification. His work with the MEDC resulted in record-breaking investments from 2020-2022, and his advocacy for a small business acceleration package resulted in state grants, entrepreneurial growth, and procurement.
Although he got his start as a small business owner in Mount Clemens, Marino has proven that he is cut out for government work at every level. Able to learn and retain information at an incredibly fast pace, Marino has developed subject-matter expertise about every topic brought to his desk. Through his current plan of pursuing advanced degrees, Marino hopes to influence public policy and aid small businesses on a far larger scale in the future.
With an encouraging track record proving that he not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk, small businesses can take heart that Steve Marino will be on their side and offering support for years to come, whether he finds himself back in government or returning to his own small business roots.