Small Business Congress Wrap-Up

December 4, 2012

Last week, NSBA held its biennial Small Business Congress in Washington, D.C., along with a celebration of its 75th Anniversary. Small-business leaders from across the country attended the event featuring policy experts and Members of Congress and their staffs, which culminated in voting on NSBA’s top issues for the coming session of Congress.

A key focal point throughout the event was the deficit and much-needed tax reform. Prior to the official launch of the event, NSBA leadership participated in meetings on Capitol Hill with the Fix the Debt Campaign and spoke at a nationally-covered press conference urging lawmakers to work together on finding a solution before the fiscal cliff and sequestration kicks in.

The first official event of the Small Business Congress was the Regulatory Fairness Roundtable, held in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration Regulatory Fairness Board. There were over 20 government agency representatives at the roundtable who heard out the various small-business concerns that were raised. Following the roundtable was the welcome reception where attendees networked with one another.

On Thursday, NSBA hosted a spate of insightful speakers. The morning kicked off with keynote speaker Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation. McGuineas is a nationally-recognized expert on tax and budget issues and provided a candid look at the state of the national deficit and various proposals to address it. Following MacGuineas, the delegation heard from a series of four panels discussing tax and budget, employment law, small-business programs, and access to capital.

The first panel was led by NSBA past chair Cap Willey who moderated a lively discussion on the budget and looming fiscal cliff with guest speakers The Honorable Pat Tiberi, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair at the Urban Institute, and Steve Bell, Senior Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. The second panel on employment law was moderated by NSBA past chair Keith Ashmus and featured two speakers from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions: Michael Kreps, Senior Pension & Retirement Counsel and Kyle Hicks, who is the Labor Policy Director for the minority (Republican) staff; and Constance Barker, a Commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Next, participants attended a luncheon sponsored by Pfizer which featured a roundtable discussion on the key issues likely facing small business in the coming years. The roundtable was moderated by NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken and featured Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for the SBA Office of Advocacy, Kevin Wheeler, Deputy Staff Director, and Caroline Bruckner, General Counsel, from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Emily Murphy, Senior Counsel, representing the House Committee on Small Business.

Following the luncheon was the final panel discussion for the day which focused on small-business access to capital. The panel was moderated by NSBA Treasurer Jeff Van Winkle and featured: Joe Johnson, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Economic Research at the SBA Office of Advocacy; Julie T. Huston, SBA Division President for US Bank; and Larry Conley, Sr. Vice President for Chase Bank.

On Thursday evening, NSBA held a reception celebrating its 75th anniversary. Hosted by UPS, the reception recognized NSBA’s 75 years of small-business advocacy and recognized the leadership and allies throughout the country and within the D.C. Beltway. NSBA Chair Chris Holman, CEO of Michigan Business and President of The Greater Lansing Business Monthly recognized the leadership and staff of NSBA and thanked the small businesses and friends of small businesses throughout the years who have made NSBA not just the country’s oldest, but the country’s best small-business advocacy group.

On Friday, participants rolled up their sleeves and set about crafting the various priority issues for voting. In four separate working sessions, participants debated and narrowed down a host of issues to their top four which were then forwarded along to the entire delegation. Those issues were then opened up for electronic voting and NSBA’s members then determined what would be the top priority issues for the coming 113th Session of Congress.

The last event of the day was NSBA’s Annual Member Meeting Luncheon where participants were thanked for their efforts and the incoming spate of officers for NSBA’s 2013 Board of Trustees were officially nominated and voted on. The gavel was handed over from Chair Chris Holman to Incoming Chair David Ickert of Air Tractor, Inc., in Olney, Texas, who will begin his chairmanship in January 2013.

Please click here to see more about NSBA’s upcoming priority issues.