Small businesses are our nation’s primary job creators and innovators. Right here in Ohio, we have more than 900,000 small businesses that support more than two million jobs. But too often, small business owners aren’t included in decisions made by lawmakers – which leads to policies that don’t address the real problems small businesses face. That’s why on May 8-11, I was privileged to bring 11 Ohio small business owners, including five from Columbus, to join more than 150 small business owners at Small Business Majority’s Small Business Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.
The Summit’s theme was “Recognizing the Power of the Small Business Economy,” which explored how the small business case is often misrepresented by policymakers – and how we can address that issue. For instance, the Summit included panels with media and lobbying experts focused on how small business owners can better communicate their concerns to lawmakers and media so their voices are included in more policy debates.
Building on this theme, small business owners were able to have a question and answer session with senior representatives from the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns. And, on the final day of the Summit, small business owners attended an event at the White House for panels and Q&A with senior members of the Obama Administration including Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama and Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the President for economic policy.
Additionally, the Summit featured interactive breakouts so small business owners could discuss how to tackle top issues facing small businesses, including access to capital, retirement security and barriers to success for underrepresented business owners, like women and minorities. For some Ohio entrepreneurs, these discussions were the highlight of the Summit.
“During the women’s entrepreneurship discussion, I was able to brainstorm with my peers from around the country about how women business owners can better influence legislation and address our concerns with lawmakers,” said Victoria Calderón Nunes, co-founder & CEO of AVANZA Business Solutions in Columbus. “I’m staying in touch with this group of entrepreneurs so we can serve as resources to each other and continue empowering our businesses to succeed.”
Of course, the Summit also focused on recognizing small businesses for everything they do for our country – and one of three official Summit awards went to a local Columbus-based small business owner. Dominiq Dudley, co-owner of Ready Magazine and recent graduate of Howard University, received the Rising Entrepreneur Award for a successful young business owner, presented by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty.
Ohio small business owners, and Columbus entrepreneurs in particular, were an enormous presence at the Summit. In fact, we were the second best represented state in the country, only behind California. And that’s great news – Ohio is a politically influential state, and our decisions can impact the whole country. That makes it extra important for our entrepreneurs to be active in our democracy. The Summit is just one of many opportunities Small Business Majority offers to help small business owners be more involved. To learn about these opportunities or how to attend next year’s Summit, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo via Small Business Majority Facebook page.