Convene a White House Conference on Small Business

February 23, 2021

Problem:

Not since 1995 has an administration assembled a White House Conference on Small Business (WHCSB). It has been more than 25 years since the last WHCSB and it is time to convene a gathering to develop a cohesive small-business agenda to ensure the government is taking an active, appropriate role in helping small business recover from the pandemic and foster for years to come.

  • The U.S. has 31.7 million small businesses, employing 47.1 percent of all U.S. employees.
  • Small-business owners continue to face countless challenges in their efforts to grow their companies, and create jobs, which has been detrimental to stronger economic growth, and is especially catastrophic now due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There have been three White House Conferences, occurring in 1980, 1986, and 1995. They were convened in an effort to foster better relationships between the business community, Congress, and the White House to develop innovative policy solutions to economic problems.
  • The 1995 Conference resulted in 60 legislative and regulatory recommendations, more than 90 percent of which were addressed in some way, and 20 of the 60 recommendations were enacted into law.

Solution:

Twenty-five years is far too long to go without giving voice and a forum to America’s small businesses, which account for 99 percent of U.S. private sector employers and 64 percent of net new private sector jobs. Convening a WHCSB sends a message to the millions of people in the small-business community that Congress and the White House sees their long-term economic security as a priority.

  • President Biden and Congress should work together to authorize and appropriate funds for a WHCSB ensuring that small business issues remain at the forefront of policy discussions and ensure small business has a voice at the highest levels of the American government.
  • Inherent to achieving this goal is the coordinated work of Congress through the Senate and House Small Business Committees, the administration through the SBA, and small-business advocacy groups.
  • Implementing a regional, state, and national framework for the conference, as has been done in the past White House conferences, is critical to ensuring broad, diverse input and distinguishes this kind of conference from a simple roundtable of hand-picked small-business owners.