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On June 1 and 2, NSBA held its annual lobbying days in Washington, D.C. where small-business owners from acro s the country met with their lawmakers, attended a high-level White House Briefing, and heard from a host of lawmakers on key small-business issues.
Known as the Washington Presentation, the event started with the awards luncheon where NSBA recognized the 2015 Lew Shattuck Advocate of the Year Award winners. The overall award winner, Gary Kushner of Kushner & Company in Portage, Mich., was announced and made poignant remarks to the delegation about why it’s so important to be politically active as a small-business owner. NSBA also recognized the following four finalists: Michael Canty of Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding in Highland Heights, Ohio; Sheila Duffy-Lehrman of Tropic Survival Advertising & Marketing in Miami, Fla.; Jeff Koenig of Big Poppi Bicycle Co. in Manhattan, Kan.; and Marilyn Landis of Basic Business Concepts, Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The keynote address during the luncheon featured Reid Wilson, Chief Political Correspondent for the Morning Consult, who gave an insightful presentation on the current state of politics in the U.S. and discussed the upcoming 2016 election. Following the luncheon, the delegation gathered for a quick briefing on the issues to be discussed in their Congressional meetings.
Next, attendees visited the White House to hear from top administration officials. Kicking off the White House Briefing, the delegation heard from Rob Diamond, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement who thanked the group for their efforts while in Washington, D.C. and noted the important role NSBA has played in shaping small-business policy.
Next to address the delegation was the top leadership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, led by Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet who outlined the various changes that have been underway at SBA to expand its reach and improve offerings to small business. She was joined by Javier Saade, Associate Administrator for the Office of Investment and Innovation, Ann Marie Mehlum, Associate Administrator for the office of Capital Access, and Tameka Montgomery, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development who each touched on their respective programs and outlined how the small-business owners in attendance could best utilize the SBA.
Following the SBA panel was Jason Miller, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council who discussed the deficit and ongoing efforts to address tax reform. Greg Nelson, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council, followed, and discussed the importance of various trade deals the White House is currently negotiating. The last administration official to address the group was Jordan Brooks, Assistant Director for the council on Women and Girls who discussed paid leave initiatives.
On Tuesday morning, the delegation headed up to Capitol Hill for an early-morning Congressional Breakfast featuring eight Members of Congress. The first to address the group was Rep. Grace Meng (N.Y) who discussed the importance of trade, specifically how the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-In Bank) is a critical resource for small firms. Next up was Rep. Tim Walberg (Mich.) who talked about recent hiring issues with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, followed by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.) who discussed the importance of small-business ownership and the need to remove barriers to entrepreneurship.
House Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (Ohio) spoke next and highlighted the focus of his committee in four key areas to help small firms, including the need for tax reform.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) then took to the podium where he underscored the need for regulatory restraint and reform to ensure small businesses can prosper, and was followed by Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.) who talked about common-sense legislating and the importance of bipartisanship among lawmakers.
Senate Small Business Committee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) then outlined some of the work the Senate Committee has been doing and underscored the importance of entrepreneurship in communities across the U.S. Closing out the breakfast was Rep. Tony Cardenas (Calif.) who, as a former small-business owner, urged attendees to consider running for office and stated that Congress and state legislatures would benefit greatly from more small-business representation among lawmakers.
The NSBA delegation then set out across Capitol Hill for their meetings with lawmakers, and the Washington Presentation concluded.
On Wednesday, though not a part of the NSBA event, a handful of NSBA’s leadership participated in a roundtable with other business groups and a number of U.S. Senators which was held by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to discuss the need to promptly reauthorize Ex-Im Bank. One of NSBA’s Top 10 Priority Issues, reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank has been, despite broad small-business support, a contentious issue on Capitol Hill with the Bank set to expire in just a matter of weeks.
Following the roundtable, NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken, NSBA Chair Timothy Reynolds and NSBA Past Chair David Ickert all participated in a press conference where remarks were made by Sens. Richard Durbin (Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Maria Cantwell (Wash) and Chris Coons (Del.). NSBA will continue to urge lawmakers to support Ex-Im Bank and thanks the Senators in attendance for their leadership on the issue.
NSBA thanks the many outstanding speakers we had throughout the event and applauds the small-business owners who attended the Washington Presentation for their efforts in giving small-business a voice in Washington, D.C.