Winning the Future Forum on Small Business: Opening Session

February 23, 2011 | 6:34 | Public Domain

President Barack Obama kicks off the Opening Session of the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business in Cleveland, OH. The forum is an opportunity for Administration officials to hear from small business owners on how to encourage growth and innovation.

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Remarks by the President at Opening Session of Winning the Future Forum on Small Business in Cleveland, Ohio

11:38 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you so much.  Thank you very much.  Please, everybody have a seat.  It is wonderful to be here, and I just want to say thank you for our hosts at KSU for -- or CSU, rather, excuse me -- for their hospitality.  This is the second time I’ve had a chance to be here, and always enjoy interacting both with the team here as well as the surrounding community.
I want to make some quick introductions, because we’ve got some special guests.  Our SBA administrator Karen Mills is here.  There she is.  (Applause.)  Members of my Cabinet -- Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  (Applause.)  Secretary of Energy Steve Chu.  (Applause.)  We have Mr. Austan Goolsbee, who is our chairman of the Economic Council.  (Applause.)  And my director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling is here as well.  (Applause.)
And I want to say a special thank you to Steve Case, who is not only an extraordinary entrepreneur and business leader, but is also -- has agreed to chair the Startup America partnership, which is a public/private partnership to help move the entrepreneurship agenda forward.  So thank you so much, Steve, for your presence here today.  (Applause.)
It is wonderful to be back in Ohio, and we’re going to do something a little different today.  I did not come to Cleveland to talk.  Instead I came here to listen.  I’ve spent the last month since the State of the Union sharing my vision for an America that remains the best place on Earth to do business; an America that competes aggressively for every job and every industry that’s out there; an America that wins the future.
Part of that means making sure that government lives within its means, just like you do.  And that’s why I’ve designed a budget that freezes spending for five years and will help reduce the deficit by $400 billion over the next decade to the lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President, because by cutting back on what we don’t need, we can invest in the future.  We can invest in the things that are critical to our long-term success -- in innovation, so that America stays on the cutting edge; in education, so businesses have access to the skilled workers that they need; in upgrading our transportation and information networks, so companies can move goods and services quickly and cheaply.
So winning the future involves out-educating, out-innovating, out-building, out-hustling everybody else, and it’s entrepreneurs like you who will help America do just that.
     Obviously the big companies generally get most of the attention in our economy, and the success of large companies is critical to the success of medium and small businesses as well.   But it’s small businesses like yours that help drive America’s economic growth and create two out of every three new jobs.
     You’re the anchors of our Main Streets, small businesses built by folks who live and work in the community and look out for one another that end up determining success or failure of cities and towns.  They’re the cornerstones of America’s promise, the idea that if you’ve got a dream and you’ve got the work ethic to see it through, you can succeed.  And when our small businesses do well, then America does well.
That’s why we convened this Winning the Future Forum for Small Business.  Along with Cleveland State and local organizations like JumpStart and NorTech, we looked for entrepreneurs here in Northeast Ohio who live to out-hustle, to out-innovate everybody else -– in manufacturing and construction, in clean energy and biotech, in retail, in restaurants -– including the owner of Bubba’s BBQ, who I imagine will be one of the more popular participants today.
We’re here to hear from you directly.  We want your stories -– your successes, your failures, what barriers you’re seeing out there to expand, what you’ve learned along the way.  What would make it easier for you to grow?  What would make it easier for you to create new jobs?  How can America help you succeed so that you can help America succeed?
So we’ve pulled together five panels for discussion that will be moderated by various members of my administration -– panels on inspiring entrepreneurship, on accessing capital, on training workers with the new skills they need for the job, on accelerating a clean energy economy, and on growing our exports so that the rest of the world buys the products that we make here in the United States of America.  And we’ll have a special sixth session, where I’ll join Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of my Council of Economic Advisers, as he takes questions and suggestions from Americans live on and on Facebook.
So I’m going to be sitting in on some of the other panels -- to make sure that my staff is doing their work.  And then we’re going to come back here and I’ll try to sum up what I’ve heard.
So, again, I am very grateful for all of you being here.  This is a working session, not a photo op, so I expect all of you will express your opinions clearly; you won’t hold anything back. And I’m looking forward to hearing from you and then trying to make sure that we’re a good partner in helping you implement the great ideas that you have.
Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

11:46 A.M. EST

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