Over 400 small and minority business entrepreneurs participated in a Department of Energy small business procurement summit in Orangeburg, South Carolina on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. I had the pleasure of speaking at the event together with DOE Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn, and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns. This was part of a series of high-level events that the White House asked all Federal agencies to conduct. Since March, over 20 Cabinet and Senate-confirmed officials and 7,000 small business owners have participated in 19 small business matchmaking events around the country.
One small business owner wrote to President Obama after the South Carolina event:
By far, this was the best government sponsored event I have ever attended…It gave me a new direction and a new market to approach…. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the other Government Officials that were informative and current with Small Business Issues. I am proud to have them representing and serving our Country. They made me feel like we can build the America we dreamed of in the past and can dream of now.
Our goal with these events is to create an unprecedented level of access to agency program buyers and representatives. During the event in Orangeburg, over 26 program buyers and agency representatives attended from seven federal agencies, including Defense, GSA, and Health and Human Services. Just two weeks ago, over 180 agency program buyers and representatives participated in a three-day small business matchmaking event in New Orleans with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
President Obama often says that small businesses are the “backbone of our economy and the cornerstone of our community.” We realize how important small business owners and minority entrepreneurs are to creating jobs, and that is why it is important that we start by doing business with you.
Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to the President & Director of the Office of Public Engagement.