150 small business owners make their voices heard at leadership summit

We often hear from small business owners that they feel like their voices are not heard on key issues that impact their small businesses. That’s why we brought 150 small business owners to D.C. for our second annual Small Business Leadership Summit. With its theme, “Recognizing the Power of the Small Business Economy,” this year’s Summit discussed how the small business case is too often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, at the public policy table and at the ballot box. Small business leaders from all over the country rose to the challenge and made their voices heard over four days of education, collaboration and action.

After a Sunday night networking happy hour, the first full day of the Summit on May 9th started with a panel featuring top small business journalists on how small businesses could share their stories with media. Other panels focused on lobbying skills for small businesses, minority entrepreneurship, asset building, healthcare and the impact of prescription drug prices and the freelance economy.

The first full day of the Summit concluded with an awards ceremony. U.S. Senator Jon Tester  (Mont.) presented Courtney McKee of Headframe Spirits in Butte, Mont. with Small Business Majority’s Community Development Award, and Small Business Majority Board Chair Celia Canfield presented Praveen Madan of Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, Calif. with our Technological Innovation Award.

Following a full day of small business conversation and collaboration, small business owners headed to Google’s D.C. offices to kick back, mingle and celebrate Small Business Majority’s 10th anniversary.

Tuesday began with an address from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (Ore.), who spoke about the value of crowdfunding and access to capital for small business. Next, small business owners attended a panel with legal experts on consequences of the Supreme Court vacancy for small businesses. Other panels that day included a discussion on the importance of public lands to small businesses, women’s entrepreneurship and an overview of new alternative and online lending technologies. Small business owners also heard from Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Jessica Milano, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In the afternoon, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (Ohio) made an appearance to present Small Business Majority’s Rising Entrepreneur Award to recent college graduate Dominiq Dudley of READY Publication in Columbus, Ohio. After the presentation, small business owners heard from Dr. Sam Clovis, National Co-Chair and Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald Trump campaign and Ann O’Leary, Senior Policy Advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign about the election and the candidates’ positions on small business issues.

On the final day of the Summit, small business owners traveled to the White House to hear from senior members of the Obama Administration including Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

Since the Summit, we have received wonderful feedback from attendees. 

Ted Milner, owner of Executive Temps in Burbank, Calif. said, “I am constantly amazed with the content and resources that are available for us here at the Leadership Summit. Being able to come together with a diverse group of business owners to share ideas and take those ideas back to our communities and share is priceless.”

“All the ideas and all the people I had the opportunity to network with… it felt tailor-made for someone ready to take the next step in a small business. There was enough time where we could get the essentials discussed, and we were provided ideas of where to go next. It was a really nice combination of making real connections while having the expertise of a corporate event. I was so impressed,” said Leonie Brooks, of Brooks Counseling & Consulting Psychology, LLC in Owings Mills, Md.

Gail Dudley, Editor-in-Chief for READY Publication and mother of Rising Entrepreneur Award recipient Dominiq Dudley, also recognized the extent of the resources available at the Summit. “I took so many notes and gained so much knowledge,” said Dudley. “As soon as Wednesday ended, we started making phone calls and following up with the new connections made during the Summit. We also started looking into the multitude of resources mentioned. This Summit will be a game-changer for us.”

But don’t just take their word for it. Check out our Storify to see Tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts from attendees at our 2016 Small Business Leadership Summit.

Thank you to our Summit sponsors Sam’s Club, Prudential, Pfizer, AARP, PhRMA, Google and Community Investment Management LLC.