Small Business Congress 2021
On Feb. 23, 2021 NSBA closed its biennial Small Business Congress: three weeks with six issue-focused sessions and the final culminating event. Participants heard from Biden Administration officials, Members of Congress, a host of policy experts and small-business thought leaders about what to expect in the coming months and years, and ultimately voted on NSBA’s priorities for the coming two years. See below for full details on each session.
The Issue Sessions
The Small Business Congress kicked off with a series of issue-focused discussions among the NSBA Leadership Council and Board of Trustees where we heard from D.C. insiders on a host of policies, and participants engaged in an active discussion on each issue.
Taxation – Feb. 9
NSBA kicked off the Congress with a Tax Policy webinar on Feb. 9, led by Malcolm Prouty, the NSBA Chair for Taxation, featuring Brian Reardon from S Corporation Association and Garrett Watson from the Tax Foundation on the panel. During the webinar, panelists discussed tax reform, including alternatives to the current tax code, such as The Fair Tax; the impact of Covid-19 on the national debt; self-employment tax on health care; and the interstate sales tax.
Labor & Employment – Feb. 10
On Feb. 10, NSBA held a leadership issue discussion webinar on Labor and Employment, moderated by Robert Shea, the NSBA Chair for Health and Human Resources. The panelists, Marc Freedman from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Josh Ulman from Ulman Public Policy, discussed issues including minimum wage, pension reform, fair union elections, paid family leave, immigration reform, flexible scheduling, and trained workforce.
Health Care – Feb. 11
On Feb. 11, NSBA’s leadership turned to Health Care, led by policy expert Gary Kushner, NSBA’s Past Chair. During the roundtable discussion, we heard from Tom Wildsmith from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Dan Jones from Alliance of Community Health Plans. Our experts discussed a variety of health care issues affecting the small business community, including medical liability reform, and the rising costs of healthcare.
Regulatory Policy – Feb. 16
On Feb. 16, Bill Belknap, the NSBA Chair of Environment & Regulatory Affairs moderated the session featuring Thomas Sullivan from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and David R. Burton from the Heritage Foundation. Our panelists discussed OSHA regulations, tort reform, beneficial ownership laws, regulatory reform and paperwork reduction, as well as the issues of growing partisanship and political disfunction and the importance of strengthening the SBA Office of Advocacy.
Capital Access – Feb.17
On Feb. 17, Todd McCracken and Marilyn Landis, NSBA’s Past Chair, moderated a webinar on Access to Capital and Economic Development. The panel included Renee Johnson from Public Private Strategies, Sam Graziano from Fundation, and David R. Burton from the Heritage Foundation. Our panelists discussed the importance of improving access to credit for small businesses, SBA lending, the issues surrounding crowdfunding, the importance of small business contracting, and the need to invest in American infrastructure
Technology & Trade – Feb. 18
On Feb. 18, we discussed Trade and Technology in a webinar moderated by Marilyn Wilson Lund, NSBA’s Chair of Economic Development. Diana Doukas from Facebook and Karen Kerrigan from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, discussed the issues of cybersecurity and financial protection, the need for national data privacy regulation, and the importance of net neutrality. The session also touched in the importance of strengthening federal innovation programs and the benefits of free trade agreements.
Small Business Congress Partner
Save the Date: On March 3, RingCentral will host a webinar, “Getting Back to Business as (Un)sual”. Details here: www.RingCentral.com/sbc
Small Business Congress – The Culminating Event
The Small Business Congress culminated in a final event on Feb. 23, with the goal of coming together to collaborate on ideas in order to inform legislators and policy makers on the realities of the small business experience.
The View from the Biden Administration
Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Bharat Ramamurti spoke predominately about the American Rescue Plan and the $50 billion additional funds allocated to small businesses under the plan, as well as the specific changes to the PPP over the next two weeks, specifically the 14-day period, starting Wednesday, Feb. 24, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the PPP. He addressed the need to increase lending to small businesses in need and the administration’s goal of helping sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals receive more financial support. Ramamurti also underscored that the changes to the PPP were part of their efforts to further promote equitable access to relief.
The Message from Capitol Hill
House Small Business Committee Chair & Ranking Member
Attendees also heard from House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velazquez and Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer who discussed a number of key issues, including the importance of small business. The two leaders of the Committee then went on to outline their respective goals for the 117th Session as well as areas where they could reach across the aisle to move important small-business issues forward. Chair Velazquez highlighted improving lending and contracting and Ranking Member Luetkemeyer underscored the need for regulatory restraint as top goals, and both said they believe further COVID-19 relief and PPP support would be on the top of the Committee’s list. Both outlined the key role NSBA plays in crafting policy and ensuring small business a seat at the table.
NSBA’s Policy Roundtable
NSBA Leadership & John Stanford, Small Business Roundtable
Attendees also participated in a Policy Roundtable where the moderators from each of the Issue Sessions summarized their session’s discussion and highlighted the top issues each group voted on to forward to the Small Business Congress for the final voting. Rounding out the policy discussion was John Stanford, Co-Executive Director of the Small Business Roundtable, a nonpartisan group of small-business advocates in Washington, D.C. Stanford outlined the key policy areas SBR would focus on and thanked NSBA for their ongoing support and stewardship of small-business policy inside the Beltway.
NSBA Members Voted on the Priority Issues for the 117th Session of Congress
After the online Congress concluded, attendees were able to vote on the formal Priorities Ballot, where they selected their priority issues. Those issues are:
- Bolster SBA Lending
- Support Robust Small Business Contracting
- Improve Access to Credit
- Rein in the Costs of Health Care
- Enact Tax Reform That Prioritizes Simplification
- Close the Partisan Divide and Reform Politics
- Improve Workforce Training
- Regulatory Reform and Paperwork Reduction
- Strengthen Federal Innovation Programs
- Oppose Counter-Productive Minimum Wage Increases
- Support Fair and Simple Capital Gains Taxes