There are 23 million small businesses in America, which account for more than 50 percent of U.S. sales according to the Small Business Administration, a national small business advocacy organization that hosted a national conference call on Wednesday to discuss the role of small business in the local and national economy.
More than 30,000 small businesses were invited to participate in the call spearheaded by Harvard Business School Senior Fellow and former SBA Administrator Karen Mills who discussed not only the importance of small business but the ways in which to improve the climate in which business is done. Mills noted that for many Americans small business has been a foundational step in changing one's circumstances, a ladder to upwards mobility.
“Small businesses meant access to the American dream for owners and employees,” said Mills. “It’s a source of anxiety when that American dream no longer feels accessible.”
Mills noted that a positive relationship between government and business is vital for the growth of small businesses and CEO Dave White of the Stanislaus Business Alliance echoed her sentiment.
“What governments can do to be helpful is to reduce the barriers by doing things like streamlining the permit process as well as promoting good customer service,” said White.
“Small businesses want the government to be a partner in a way that allows them to do what they do best, which is grow their business and create jobs,” said Mills, noting that local governments across the county are implementing strategies to leverage small businesses but “the challenge is how to drive more of this kind of collaboration. It’s not always easy but it’s very important for small business.”
Stimulating innovation is also a key component of boosting and retaining businesses, said White noting that California itself “exudes an entrepreneurial spirit.” According to White the Stanislaus Business Alliance is dedicated to fostering a spirit of innovation evident by their Innovation Challenge program which focuses on determining if a local’s idea has commercial potential in order to develop the idea into a viable concept with secure funding. This challenge is indicative of the vision of the Alliance which is a private-public organization that is devoted to generating business and assisting employees.
“We want to attract the kind of businesses that will grow, ones that will eventually headquarter here and lay deep roots, encourage economic development, and support the arts for example,” said White. “We want that multiply effect.”