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Talking Small Business in Seattle

Read Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett's comments on President Obama's Small Business Roundtable in Seattle.

President Obama traveled to Seattle, Washington, last week, where he held a roundtable discussion with local business owners, Senator Patty Murray and Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke. Together, the group had an honest and open conversation about the challenges facing America’s small business owners.                                                                                                                                    

Joined by women business owners at the discussion, the President got a first-hand account of how the economic downturn has impacted their lives and work. For instance, Tiffany Turner and her husband, Brady, are founders and operators of the Inn at Discovery Coast. At the meeting, they told the President about their trouble accessing capital to expand their business, despite their operation’s success.  You can learn more about the event by watching this video of President Obama's remarks.  

Unfortunately, the President knows that Tiffany and Brady are not the only entrepreneurs to feel the effects of the credit crunch.  And that’s why President Obama has taken numerous, important steps to remedy these effects and help small businesses across the country to grow, expand and thrive. 

So far, the President has cut taxes for small business owners eight times. He signed the HIRE act, providing tax cuts to businesses that hire unemployed workers.  Video of this Rose Garden bill signing can be watched on our website. He’s provided tax cuts for investing in new equipment. He enacted an economic plan that has provided nearly 70,000 new loans to small business owners and waived fees on some federal loans to keep re-payment manageable. In Seattle alone, 1,937 small business loans have supported $893 million in lending—lending that has freed up credit for entrepreneurs like Tiffany and Brady.  In fact, the Inn owners were just recently provided with a loan from a community bank to hire up to 20 more workers and expand their operations.

Stories like Tiffany’s and Brady’s demonstrate that the President’s actions are helping. The economic climate in Seattle, and around the nation, is improving, slowly but surely. Still, the President knows that the government can do more. And we must do more because the future prosperity of our nation depends on the prosperity of our nation’s small businesses. They create two out of every three jobs in America. And in this time of recovery, women-owned businesses are especially critical. The more than 10.1 million women-owned businesses in America employ about 13 million people and generate more than $1.9 trillion in sales annually. Additionally, we know that women-owned firms grow at a faster rate. From 2002 to 2008, the number of employees at women-owned firms grew by 2%, while the number at male-owned businesses decreased by 1%. That’s why the federal government is reaching out to female contractors and working hard to promote women-owned small businesses, who have already received more than $1.54 billion in federal recovery contracts and over $4 billion in SBA recovery loans.

As the President continues to travel to other communities across America, and hear real stories from real entrepreneurs, struggling to succeed in these difficult times, he will continue to do all that he can to support small business owners.  His actions are grounded in their stories—stories such as Tiffany’s and Brady’s.  And it’s their hard work, their dedication and their ingenuity that motivates our work. 

Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.