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Listening to Small Businesses at the President’s Forum in Cleveland

On February 21, Administrator Karen Mills was in Cleveland with President Obama, a large contingent of his Cabinet, and about 150 small business owners.

Yesterday, I was in Cleveland with President Obama, a large contingent of his Cabinet, and about 150 small business owners.  The President opened the day by telling the small business owners that the goal was “to hear from you, to gain your counsel, and to talk about how America can help you succeed so that you can keep helping America succeed.” 

In my breakout session on Entrepreneurship, we heard from 25 small business owners.  The President stopped by and had the chance to talk with a barbecue restaurant owner, a portable microwave manufacturer, a woman-owned construction company, and others.

Several topics came up.  We talked about how access to capital is still a big problem for too many entrepreneurs and small business owners.  We discussed the importance of the small business tax cuts that the President has already signed into law.  We talked about promoting more high-growth entrepreneurship through efforts like Startup America.  And we discussed ways to identify and remove barriers to entrepreneurship, including a new series of roundtables in entrepreneurial communities that will be kicked off next week in Durham, North Carolina.

We need to do everything we can to support those small business owners – and others across America – because they’re the ones that are working every day to out-innovate, out-build, and out-compete the rest of the world.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to support regional economies like Northeast Ohio as they work to create good jobs.  The SBA, for example, has helped support a clustering effort led by a local high-tech economic development organization called NorTech, which the President discussed in his closing remarks.  And we’re also expanding a successful and intensive entrepreneur training program to nearby Youngstown, Ohio.

And all of us throughout the Administration will continue to listen to the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, using their feedback and insights to ensure that we’re supporting them as they grow our economy and create jobs.