I want to explain to you why I’m on board with the President’s plan for trade.
I was 21, sitting at a desk in my dorm room, scribbling out an idea I had for a business on paper. I had spent months pressure-washing moss off of people's driveways during the day and delivering pizzas at night to raise enough money to create this startup — but had no real idea how I was going to do it.
But that's the great thing about this country — if you've got an idea, and you share it with the right people, you can actually turn a spark from your imagination into a reality for customers all over the world.
That's what drives all of us at Greenvelope (the Seattle-based company I ended up successfully starting). We provide elegant electronic invitations to people looking to bring their events into the 21st century in an eco-friendly way.
That's a lot of people — and many of them live outside our borders, in countries like Canada and Australia. That's the cool thing about running an online business: You can reach people halfway across the world with the art you create here at home.
But we rely on fair rules and a free and open Internet to provide the best service — and to reach those customers. And right now, there are obstacles to that very simple mission. For instance, some countries have tried to force business owners like me to physically locate our infrastructure (like our servers) in their country in order to serve their people. That would essentially bar small businesses like mine from selling to other markets.
That’s why it matters to me that the President has secured the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a trade agreement that levels the playing field for entrepreneurs like me so we can sell more Made-in-America products abroad and support more jobs here at home.
With the TPP, any entrepreneur can sell to anyone with an Internet connection in the countries that have signed on. That's a huge deal for online businesses like mine -- businesses that are becoming a bigger part of our nation's economy.
But we're not just about the bottom line. For us, doing right by the environment is part of our DNA. In fact, we are a proud member of 1% for the Planet, so part of our proceeds go toward protecting the greenway along the I-90 corridor here in Washington State.
That's why I like how much the TPP does to protect the environment — something I'm realizing a lot of people don’t know. It includes the most robust and enforceable standards on the environment of any trade agreement in history. That includes standards that protect and conserve iconic species, like rhinos and tigers; that promote long-term conservation of marine life, like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles; that combat wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing; and that protect the marine environment from shipping pollution.
If you're as surprised as I was that trade can impact that much, you should dig in to the deal here: WH.gov/trade.
I know there's a lot of back and forth about this deal, but here's the important thing from my perspective:
We're a young company. We've got an American-made product that people want. This deal ensures we will be able to continue to deliver these products effectively for the foreseeable future — no matter where the customer lives. And it makes our world a little greener too.
And that's something worth fighting for. Thanks for listening.
Sam Franklin is the founder and CEO of Greenvelope.