The Quest to Give Black and Minority-Owned Small Businesses a Voice

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There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, making them a driving force and crucial part of the nation’s economy. Yet those firms, including black and other minority-owned businesses, often don’t have a tenacious voice when it comes to getting policymakers to hear their concerns and provide regulatory relief to help them grow and sustain their enterprises.

But a newly formed coalition, the Small Business Roundtable (SBR), aims to improve the entrepreneurial environment for members and non-members.

Some of the nation’s leading small business and entrepreneurship organizations have banded to make up the SBR. They include the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), National Small Business Association (NSBA), the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), and the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (National ACE).

The SBR says it is committed to advancing policy, securing access, and promoting inclusion to benefit those firms. It will be a collective voice advocating for millions of small businesses and their interests. All told, member groups of SBR now represent about 350,000 businesses, including minority- and women-owned firms.

The coalition was founded to give the small business associations a more cohesive voice on public policy. It will allow small business leaders a place to share information and increase their influence.

There are now many great organizations focused mainly on supplier diversity, federal, and private sector contracting for small business, the SBR claims. Some of its members, including the U.S. Black Chambers and National ACE, are very active in this space.

The SBR’s goal is to convene a much broader coalition of small business organizations focused on a variety of issues. They include the aforementioned areas, as well as regulation, taxation, and access to capital from across the political spectrum. The SBR also aims to be a hub for American small business research and resources as well as a place where all business policy issues can be addressed and discussed.

The group is planning events and meetings where the leaders of its member organizations can interact directly with elected officials in Congress, along with regulators and business leaders from every sector.

The SBR is founded and managed by long-time small business advocates Rhett Buttle and John Stanford, and chaired by Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

“Washington responds most to organized interests, and today marks a step to better organize the small business community,” noted Buttle and Stanford. “One in 10 Americans take the risk to launch a business, and when they succeed, our country succeeds. With the backing of our members we can make sure Congress and the Administration hear this message loud and clear.”

Kerrigan stated, “I’m proud to announce the Small Business Roundtable will advance a critical economic agenda in our nation’s capital and across America. For years, everyone from the Administration, to Congress, trade associations and the private sector has acknowledged the importance of small business advocacy. Nonetheless, meaningful action on the real small business policy agenda.”

Ron Busby, president and CEO of the USBC, representing about 240,000 black businesses nationwide, stated, “In today’s environment, it’s more important than ever to have frank discussions with policymakers. For SBR, remaining non-partisan and securing access to our elected officials on both sides of the aisle is critical. We will be focused on directly conveying our small business priorities to relevant leaders via meetings, briefings, conference calls, and special events.”

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