David Sonntag
20 Mar 2014

White House Business Council

Decibel Management was invited to attend the White House Business Council meetings and briefing in early March. We had the opportunity to meet with administration officials to discuss strengthening the economic competitiveness of America’s small businesses. This half-day meeting was held in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It was a great event to attend, and we loved getting to know and openly discuss issues that small businesses face and how the administration can become more involved.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Local Business Leaders Discuss Priorities with White House Officials

Senior Obama Administration Officials Heard From Business Leaders on a Variety of Issues


Washington, D.C. – Small business leaders from across the country gathered at the White House yesterday to brief Senior Administration officials on their priorities, including creating a business environment conducive to job creation.

Administration officials gave an update on the economy and job creation. They also outlined several programs that encourage hiring and improve access to capital for small businesses. These programs include Small Business Administration loans and assistance from the International Trade Administration in helping small businesses sell their goods and services to new foreign customers.

Business leaders spoke about recent successes they’ve experienced, but also highlighted the need for immigration reform, increased workforce development programs, and more awareness of programs that provide support for small businesses.

“Business leaders bring a results-oriented approach to Washington that stands out,” Jim Doyle, Business Forward president said. “They don’t agree with each other or the Administration on every point, but they expect solutions that create jobs and grow the economy.”

Senior White House officials who participated in the briefing included:

Dr. Mark Doms, Undersecretary of Economic Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce
Ann Marie Mehlum, Associate Administrator for Capital Access, U.S. Small Business Administration

Fred Baldassaro, Assistant Administrator for Communications, U.S. Small Business Administration
Peter Davidson, Executive Director of the Loan Program Office, U.S. Department of Energy
Michael Masserman, Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion, & Strategy, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Americo “Mack” Tadeu, Deputy Director, Advocacy Center, International Trade Association, U.S. Department of Commerce
Diana Doukas, White House Liaison, U.S. Small Business Administration
Sam Brown, Director, White House Business Council

Business leaders had the following to say about the briefing:

Roz Lewis, President & CEO of the Greater Women’s Business Council, located in Atlanta, Georgia said, “The women businesses in my organization are interested in access to capital and procurement opportunities. It was great to hear of all of the financial products that the Small Business Administration has to offer our constituency at the Greater Women’s Business Council. More importantly, the briefing was proof of the White House Business Council’s commitment to the growth and sustainability of small businesses.”

Sean Cochrane, President of Super Green Solutions, located in West Palm Beach, Florida said, “I was extremely impressed by all the speakers at the White House Business Council meeting. I found the meeting enlightening particularly in the focus on job creation, export dollars, and the efforts to bring energy efficiency to other countries. I was particularly impressed with the discussion of promoting USA Export trade with Sub Saharan Africa. We have seen a keen interest in this region for SuperGreen Solutions franchises as energy stability, rising energy costs, demand side management, load shedding, and carbon emissions are affecting the lives of people in Sub Saharan Africa.”

Joe Mechlinski, President & CEO of entreQuest, located in Baltimore, Maryland said, “It was an honor to participate in the White House Business Council’s meeting focused on helping small businesses to grow and strengthen the economy. We wrote the #1 best selling book in the world on how to Grow Regardless and the discussion was perfectly aligned with our mission and purpose as a company. The meeting affirmed that there are tremendous bright spots with job growth, but there is still much more to do to support small business growth in our country.

“My recommendations were basic: change the paradigm for small business from risk, regulation to risk, and reward and instead find opportunities to incentivize, not penalize, companies to hire people in all ways. I look forward to my continued participation with the Business Council and this conversation.”

Mike Sawyers, President & CEO of 7Delta, located in Columbia, Maryland said, “As a small business primarily doing federal contracting, the gridlock in Congress has been very frustrating and has made planning for growth extremely challenging.

“I attended the White House business meeting to hear about what this Administration is doing to support small businesses with and without the help of Congress. I was impressed with the number of programs available through the SBA, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Energy to financially assist small businesses to start and grow as well as efforts to expand small business exports. I also enjoyed the opportunity to network and share experiences with fellow business owners.”

Dr. Sherri Henderson, President & Senior Consultant, Global Business Development Firm, located in Lansing, Michigan said, “To achieve economic development for small businesses, entrepreneurs must remain competitive and utilize local, national and international resources to build their brand, strategically plan and be prepared to present their products and services to a global market.”

Susan Jones, Founder & Publisher of Impact Detroit Magazine, located in Detroit, Michigan said, “As a female business owner, the knowledge I gained through my participation in the White House Business Council briefing is an added value and very relevant, too. It’s not business as usual here in Detroit, so I’ll be paying it forward, sharing the wealth of knowledge I gained with my colleagues and readers of Impact Detroit Magazine.”

Charles L. Moore, CPA, President of C. L. Moore & Associates, located in Lansing, Michigan said, “There was a strong delegation of small business owners from around the country that listened to President Obama’s senior level cabinet members discuss programs tailored to strengthening the economy for small businesses. They gave us an opportunity to give feedback on their programs. This feedback was received well and the lines of communication were opened for more dialogue in the future.


“I gave recommendations on how to get small businesses more capital and what I see as current pitfalls in the lending program. The prospective was from me, a former Bank Regulator and current CPA that works with small businesses. The Small Business Administration officials were happy to get the feedback and wanted to continue to discuss possible changes to the SBA lending policies to get more loans to those small business owners that need them. It felt good to be heard!”

Ada Nicole Smith, Principal Consultant at JAS Events, located in Detroit, Michigan said, “The early start up costs and lack of strategic planning skills can be discouraging to anyone looking to own a small business. As a young entrepreneur, it was encouraging to hear that the SBA offers mentoring, coaching and classes to entrepreneurs to help close the gaps. Additionally, I am excited about the new approach to partner with local colleges and universities to give young people an earlier start on their entrepreneurial aspirations.”

Mary Castro, Executive Board Member of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce located in Warrensburg, Missouri said, “Attending the White House Business Council briefing was an amazing opportunity for me. I was impressed with the expert panel of speakers and the eloquence and passion of the attendees. I learned there are resources in place to assist the small business owners, which are accessible and sincere. The White House reached out to us, that is something to take note of and appreciate.”

Tammy Long, President of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, located in Warrensburg, Missouri said, “I am so honored to have had the opportunity to attend the White House Business Council forum and to learn of new programs which will assist in the expansion of small business in Warrensburg and Johnson County, Missouri. The speakers were factual, informative and sincere in their updates on programs. The Veterans and Community Advantage are two programs in particular which could have a positive impact on our local economy. Business Forward should be commended for their leadership in the promotion of business expansion!”


Pamela Cager, Owner of For All Occasions Catering & Vice President of the Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce, both located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina said, “As the owner of a small business, and the Vice President of the Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce, it was a great opportunity to be able to address issues that affect all small businesses and to be given the platform for our issues to be heard by the administration. It was encouraging to see the administration soliciting ideas on small business creation and sustainability. The briefing was very informative and full of useful information.”

Greg Gentner, COO of rFactrlocated in Charlotte, North Carolina said, “The rFactr Executive Team was honored to be invited to participate in the conversation with Senior Administration officials at the White House. As a global Social Sales Software company, we feel it is very important to establish an economic environment in the United States that helps entrepreneurial technology companies grow efficiently, empower advantages in technology, and create innovative solutions that provide value. It was great to be a part of the discussion about the challenges we continue to face as we grow our businesses.”


Sandra Miller Jones, Founder & CEO of Segmented Marketing Services, Inc., located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina said, “We were extremely pleased to participate in the White House Business Council’s briefing yesterday. Our primary reason for attending was to help find ways to reach and secure health insurance for as many people as possible in these final days of Affordable Care Act enrollment. But we also learned a great deal about the outstanding work that the Obama administration is doing to assist small businesses across the nation. This was a worthwhile, action-oriented effort.”

Carl Terrell, Founder & CEO of EcoCitement, located in Charlotte, North Carolina said, “I was surprised and pleased by the amount of grassroots input the Obama Administration sought from the small business community at large. As a service provider of solid waste management solutions, I was particularly pleased to learn about service exporting opportunities and the support and advocacy of the U.S. Government for U.S. business interests. In addition to receiving information, I shared my thoughts on the need to preserve net neutrality, which if replaced by a premium tiered service model, will increase small business operating expenses and decrease our ability to compete with large companies on the Internet.”


Kellam Warren, Managing Member of Mainsail Lawyers, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina said, “I’m tired of gridlock in Washington. Mainsail Lawyers was started with a Small Business Administration loan and it was nice to talk directly with Senior White House Advisors, so that I could offer a few specific suggestions for improving the SBA loan program and for accelerating the number of jobs small businesses add to the economy. I came to Washington with the benefit of perspective gained from my own “start up” experience, and from my representation of entrepreneurs and businesses of all kinds in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.

“While politicians in Washington continue fighting about how to improve the economy, I thought it important that the President’s Senior Advisors hear from someone who has actually created jobs in this economy, and used a SBA loan to start a business. I was pleasantly surprised, to find a receptive audience too.”

Adé LawalPresident & Owner of Express Employment Professionals of Philadelphialocated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said, “I found the White House Business Council briefing extremely valuable. Since my company provides temporary and permanent staffing services, finding jobs for people is essentially our business. Our business volume is an indication of the direction of the economy and we have noticed an upward trend as the government’s initiatives to create jobs have paid off. At the briefing, I learned about a number of resources available through the SBA that could further our success as a company and help put more people to work in Philadelphia.”


Wadria Taylor, Founder, Style & Steel located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said, “The White House Business Council Meeting reinforced that small businesses are the mitochondria of the U.S economy. Small businesses can do more and employ more people with access to capital. For many small business owners who fall short of meeting lending criteria for loans, their growth is stifled. My recommendation is for the SBA and the government to adjust the lending criteria and/or implement programs to help small business owners gain access to capital. As a business owner who is also a woman of color, having a seat at the table where I could exercise my voice and recommend solutions is priceless. 

Tony Goodesmith, Founder & President of Standard Medical Services located in Arlington, Virginia said, “We are very appreciative of the opportunity to brief the White House Business Council on some of the challenges we face on a daily basis while operating Standard Medical Systems. We are a serviced-disabled, veteran-owned small business seeking to compete on a level playing field when it comes to providing medical devices, equipment, and supplies. Often times we find ourselves competing against our own distribution partners for the same services solicited by VA medical centers. Additionally, we’re concerned that the medical device tax will negatively impact small independent firms like ours as we work to compete with some of the largest medical device companies in the world.”


Dave Sonntag, President of Decibel Management, located in Alexandria, Virginia said, “With Decibel Management, I have planned events all over the country including the White House. I’m honored I was invited for the first time as a guest to provide the Administration with feedback from small businesses. The discussion with the Small Business Administration was paramount for us, including the information on capital access and lending to grow our business. Additionally, gaining knowledge about the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center and offering services overseas will help us expand into new markets.”


About Business Forward
With the help of more than 50 of the world’s most respected companies, Business Forward is making it easier for tens of thousands of business leaders from across America to advise Washington on how to create jobs and accelerate our economic recovery. Together, we have organized hundreds of local briefings with more than 450 senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, mayors and governors.

To date, we have also brought more than 3,000 business leaders to the White House to brief the President’s economic advisors. Business leaders who have participated in our briefings have seen their suggestions implemented in the Affordable Care Act, the Jobs Act, three trade agreements and every one of the President’s budgets. Many have also shared their recommendations with their representatives in Congress and through op-eds and interviews with local media. Ninety-eight out of 100 business leaders who have participated in a Business Forward briefing would be interested in participating in another one.

For more information please visit www.businessfwd.org or contact kayish@businessfwd.org.


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