In Washington we hear a lot about how small business is the backbone of the economy. But with a gridlocked Congress, lately that saying has become nothing more than a feel-good bromide lawmakers use to check a box on the campaign trail—not something guiding their economic agendas. Small businesses aren’t just the backbone of our economy, they’re its foundation, and to put our economy back on track we need policies that put small business at the center.
That’s why last month we released the Economic Agenda for America’s Future, which outlines policies that will strengthen the economy and its base, small businesses. The Agenda outlines things Washington can do to bolster small business—including short and long-term policy recommendations lawmakers can act on now and in the future that will drive economic growth, job creation and competitiveness.
On September 16, Small Business Majority released its Economic Agenda for America’s Future, a set of short and long-term policy recommendations government leaders can follow to ensure an environment where entrepreneurs, and our economy, can thrive.
The recommendations range from action on taxes, access to capital, infrastructure, healthcare, immigration, minimum wage, workforce training, clean energy and exports, and are all tied to creating economic opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The Agenda outlines things Washington can do over the next couple months that will create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs, which include:
Self-employed give thumbs up to Obamacare
Small Business Majority’s California Director and Healthcare Policy Director David Chase contributed to an article in USA Today about how the new health insurance marketplaces are helping more people become self-employed and start their own businesses. Entrepreneurs are finding reasonably-priced medical plans through the individual marketplaces that are enabling them to leave their traditional jobs to launch companies, grow their businesses and create new jobs.
5 states getting early access to online enrollment through SHOP
On September 3, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will provide five states early access to the online portion of the small business health insurance marketplaces. This will allow small business owners in those states to provide critical feedback on ways to improve the system, prior to the national online roll-out on November 15. Small Business Majority is working hand-in-hand with HHS to spearhead this rollout.
This measured trial-run will allow small businesses in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio with fewer than 50 employees to shop for, select, enroll and offer employees high quality health coverage online. It will be imperative that the Administration listen to all the initial feedback, to ensure that the online marketplaces operate as smoothly as possible when it is made available for all states where the federal government is running the small business marketplaces. Learn more about the early rollout in our statement.
Small business attitudes on workplace wellness programs
On September 10, Small Business Majority released a report showing small business owners are interested in workplace wellness programs and believe they would be good for workers and business.
The report found there is significant potential to expand workplace wellness programs to a large share of the small business community. What’s more, small business owners want the best for their employees, and they see wellness programs as an opportunity to promote the health and wellness of the people who are vital to their business’ success. Read the full findings here.
Clean energy update
On September 18, we sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to support Ohio’s clean energy economy by engaging with the Environmental Protection Agenda as it moves forward with setting standards for existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.
The comment period for EPA’s proposed rule limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants has been extended to December 1, and Small Business Majority will be submitting comments. If any small business owners would like to submit comments themselves on the proposed rule, click here.
Small businesses commit to youth opportunity
In June, we launched our national sign-on campaign to garner 100 small employers to pledge to help bridge the gap between youth who are out of school and out of work, and small businesses having a hard time filling entry-level positions.
As our campaign wraps up at the end of this month, we’re pleased to announce that nearly 150 small employers have pledged to take actions to create opportunities for our youth, including 6 business champions whose testimonials can be found on our opportunity youth website.
Though our sign-on pledge is coming to a close, we’re continuing our work helping small employers identify ways they can create meaningful opportunities for our nation’s youth. We’re partnering with the Grads of Life campaign that just launched this month to bring the small business voice to a new, national conversation about creating professional opportunities for unemployed youth.
Logn-term Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank
The Export-Import Bank’s charter was set to expire at the end of this month, and while Congress has given the bank a temporary reprieve until June 2015, it’s imperative that Congress pass long-term reauthorization of the bank to ensure small businesses have access to global markets.
The Ex-Im Bank gives small businesses an edge by leveling the playing field between small firms and their larger counterparts. Many small businesses rely on the bank because commercial lenders typically don’t support small businesses in this area. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im Bank’s transactions in 2013 were for American small businesses.
Small business owners have been taking to the Internet to show their support for long-term reauthorization of the bank using Small Business Majority’s Ex-Im Thought Bank. This website allows small business owners to share their experiences with the Ex-Im Bank and have their comments sent directly to Members of Congress. What’s more, our Economic Agenda points to long-term reauthorization of the bank as a step Washington can take now to help bolster small businesses.
We’re using a new social media platform called a Thunderclap to bring together small business owners, advocates and business organizations to show their support for raising the minimum wage. Similar to an “online flash mob,” Thunderclap allows participants everywhere to voice their support for a particular campaign at the same time through social media.
Here’s how you can get involved: sign up and Thunderclap will post a one-time message on your social media networks on Friday, October 10 at 1:00 pm EDT. Thunderclap will only have permission to post this one message to your news feed, and you can opt out at any time. After that, your work is done; the message will automatically post to participants’ walls and feeds at the same time.
To get involved, sign up to join our Thunderclap, and share the link with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter so we can get as many people to participate as possible.
Please share this newsletter with any other business owners or members of business groups!
Long-term Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank
Summer is winding down and Congress is out on recess, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still working hard on important small business issues. In fact, to help strengthen the work we’re doing, we’ve expanded our regional and state-based model that has served us and the small business owners we represent so well for nearly 10 years.
We have two new senior Directors who will expand and strengthen our 14 office/10 state regional operations, further increasing our ability to reach and educate small businesses across the country. What’s more, we’ve hired a new government relations manager in Washington, D.C. who will boost our influence in the nation’s capital, giving voice to the small business community at the national public policy table.
This expansion will allow us to continue building on our successful regional and state-based approach that is already at the core of our work.
We’re pleased to announce Small Business Majority’s expansion into three regions that will be managed by a director who will serve on the organization’s Leadership Team and be responsible for outreach, development, state policy/advocacy and other activities. Grant Lahmann, who headed the organization’s outreach work over the last year, is being promoted to Director, East & South, where he will work out of the Washington, D.C. office and manage all of the organization’s work throughout the Eastern and Southern regions, including directing Small Business Majority’s Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Virginia offices.
The Midwest and West regions will be managed by Jesse Greenberg, who is joining Small Business Majority after acting as the lead consultant to the field operations of the Illinois healthcare marketplace in his capacity as Managing Supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard in Chicago. He will continue to be based in Chicago and, as Director, West & Midwest, will manage Small Business Majority’s Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Oregon and Washington state offices. Previously, Jesse spent four years at J Street as Midwest Regional Director & Deputy Director of Political Affairs.
California operations will continue to be managed by longtime California Director David Chase.
The organization has also hired a new Partnerships & Government Relations Manager, Chris Armstrong, who will work out of its Washington, D.C. office. Armstrong will build and foster relationships with national partners and government entities. Previously, Chris worked on presidential campaigns and on the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, where he managed outreach to local elected officials in affected areas.
We also hired a new media and communications associate, Kelsey Bye, who will handle media relations for the organization and foster relationships with small business owners across the country.
Members of Small Business Majority’s 35-person team working in each region and state will continue to be responsible for the integrated combination of business organization/business owner outreach, state partner relationships, development, state policy and advocacy and relationships with state media.
Louisiana Small Businesses Support Protecting Public Lands
On July 10, Small Business Majority released the results of a scientific opinion poll showing Louisiana small business owners believe protecting their state’s natural assets is important to the success of local communities, and support extending the life of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps protect the state’s public lands.
The poll found 9 in 10 small employers believe the state’s public lands are an important part of the economy, and 94% agree they draw visitors and have a positive impact on small companies. Another nine in 10 entrepreneurs want Congress to renew the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is funded by fees paid by oil and gas companies and is used to protect public lands.
On July 17, Grant Lahmann spoke at an event with Secretary Sylvia Burwell at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he discussed the new small business health insurance marketplaces.
Stephanie Salazar-Rodriguez with small business owner
Cheryl Lucero and Governor John Hickenlooper
On July 17, Colorado Health Coverage Guide Stephanie Salazar-Rodriguez met with Governor Hickenlooper at the Latino Leaders Roundtable at EXDO Denver. The event gave Latino leaders across the state a chance to talk to the governor about the most important priorities impacting the Latino community.
On July 22, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras Sweet helped kick off our series of Spanish language webinars on the new healthcare law, and the opportunities it provides for small employers. These bi-monthly interactive calls will all be conducted in Spanish and are open to all small business owners throughout the country. A complete list of upcoming webinars is available at: http://www.sba.gov/healthcare
Recent Executive Orders Benefitting Small Businesses
On July 16, the president announced a series of executive actions to help state and local governments defend against climate change by providing for new projects and data tools that will help officials better prepare for the devastating impacts of climate change. We know from our polling that small employers believe clean energy policies like these can have economic benefits and help boost their bottom lines.
On July 21, the president signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. This is a big step toward eliminating discrimination in the workplace—which is something our biggest job creators, small businesses, overwhelmingly support.
Please share this newsletter with any other business owners or members of business groups!
August Chamber Chatter Call with the White House
Join us for this month’s Chamber Chatter call with the White House Business Council featuring special guest David Simas, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Mr. Simas will provide updates from the Administration about the latest policy developments impacting small businesses. The call will take place Wednesday, August 20 from 1:30-2:30 EST.
For 80 years, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has been financing the export of American goods and services, largely from small businesses. The recent push by some lawmakers to defund the Ex-Im Bank could have far-reaching negative affects on the small business sector, and it’s time for small business owners to be heard on this important issue.
That is why Small Business Majority has launched a new site dedicated to helping small businesses voice their support for and share their experiences with the Ex-Im Bank. Please take a moment to visit our new website and share your thoughts on why the Ex-Im Bank is important to small business success.
Family Medical Leave Act Anniversary
Last week marked the 21st anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act and we want to hear from you about how this important piece of legislation, which more than 80% of small business owners support, has impacted you and your small business.
If you have stories about successful formal or informal paid leave policies at your small business, we would love for you to share those with us in honor of FMLA’s 21st anniversary. And follow our posts on social media with the hashtag #FMLA21.
Google Business Technology Challenge
The Google Business Groups Transformation Challenge is taking submissions through September 15 for a chance to win $5,000 for sharing your story about how you use technology to grow your business. To participate, all you have to do is submit stories here about how your business or venture uses technology in innovative ways.
Small Business Survey for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
The Atlantic Council is working on a project to highlight the potential benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently being negotiated between the U.S. and European Union for small and medium-sized enterprises.
In order to ensure trade negotiations address the challenges faced by small businesses, the Atlantic Council is gathering stories from business owners to identify the specific barriers that small businesses have faced when exporting. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Emma Hollister at email@example.com.
As temperatures continue to rise, so does the level of action on the small business front, both in our nation’s capitol and across the country. We’re pleased to announce we’ve launched a new campaign to work with small businesses to address the growing problem of unemployed youth, and we’ve identified some best practices small business owners can implement in their own businesses to help solve this problem. We’ve also committed to the Clinton Global Initiative to get 100 small business owners to sign our pledge to help create professional opportunities for young people.
On June 24, Small Business Majority staff members Jarvez Hall and Tim Gaudette joined our Small Business Council Member Lisa Goodbee on stage with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to announce Small Business Majority’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to get 100 small employers to sign a pledge vowing to create job opportunities for young people. The pledge aims to help bridge the gap between youth who are out of school and out of work and small businesses having a hard time filling entry-level positions.
On June 23, our Small Business Council Member Lisa Goodbee joined Chelsea Clinton at the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings event in Denver to discuss more ways to get young women into STEM fields. Lisa and Small Business Majority’s Tim Gaudette also joined Secretary Clinton for a roundtable event on June 2 focused on youth opportunity.
New EPA Standards Will Benefit Economy, Small Businesses
On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed first-ever rules that would limit carbon emissions from power plants. Reducing carbon emissions will help curb climate change and reduce the extreme weather events it causes, which hurt our economy and wreak havoc on small businesses’ bottom lines.
States Opting Out of Employee Choice Could Harm Small Businesses
The Department of Health and Human Services recently approved all 18 state requests to opt-out of employee choice for an additional year, which is bad news for small businesses looking to offer more comprehensive health coverage options for their employees.
Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found two-thirds of small employers believe allowing employees to choose among multiple carriers is an important element of the healthcare marketplaces.
According to the new HHS regulations, in order to be granted a delay states needed to provide concrete evidence that implementing employee choice would cause adverse selection and raise prices. Small Business Majority obtained the letters of many of the requesting states, and most did not meet the minimum standards to prove their state required a delay. Read our statement about why allowing states to further delay employee choice is harmful for small businesses.
We look forward to working with the other 32 states (plus DC) offering choice this year and next year to ensure that small business owners understand that this important benefit is available in their state’s small business marketplace.
Small Business Majority Staff Updates
We’re pleased to announce several staff updates within the Small Business Majority Team.
Jarvez is heading up our new Opportunity Youth Campaign, and is continuing to oversee our outreach efforts in the Pacific Northwest from our Portland office.
Elliott Long, Policy and Development Associate:
In addition to assisting members of our leadership team, Elliott is now researching a range of policy and legislative issues, along with helping to engage new funding opportunities for the organization.
Chamber Chatter with Labor Secretary Perez
On June 18, Small Business Majority hosted Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to discuss raising the minimum wage and other topics important to small businesses during our monthly Chamber Chatter call with the White House Business Council.
Our Chamber Chatter calls take place on the third Wednesday of every month from 1:30 to 2:30 PM (EST). Click below to register for upcoming calls.