SBEA Leadership Attends White House Forum

By: David Ickert, NSBA First Vice Chair and SBEA Past Chair, of Air Tractor in Olney, Texas.

The White House Business Council hosted a forum on August 15, 2012 to address the topic of “American Economic Competitiveness – Manufacturing”.  The four-hour event was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and included approximately thirty invited participants to hear presentations from, and interact with, senior administration officials on the topic of manufacturing in the U.S.U.S.  The thrust of the forum involved a restatement by the administration of the importance of manufacturing to the U.S. and to discuss ways that government and the private sector can work together to increase manufacturing in the U.S.. I, along with NSBA President Todd McCracken, was among the invited guests.

Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce, opened the meeting with a welcome of guests and statement on the importance of manufacturing and the growth of manufacturing to the President.  A variety of administration officials made presentations to the group.

During a panel session that included Jason Miller of the National Economic Council, Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services at the Department of Commerce and Susan Helper of the Council of Economic Advisors, I raised the issue of small-business exporting activity with the panel.  NSBA and SBEA have been very active in the promotion of exporting activities (and the resulting opportunities) among small businesses.  I praised the work of the administration for the introduction and work of the National Export Initiative, but urged officials to do more.

The three key issues I  identified to the panel concerning small-business exporting:  (1) there still remains a vast untapped potential of job creation in the area of small-business exporting and more should be done from both the public and private sectors to stimulate more exporting from small businesses; (2) more should be done by the Department of Commerce to identify specific international sales leads for small business and (3) begin work now in getting the lending cap raised at the Export-Import Bank of the U.S..  Asst. Secretary Lamb-Hale noted the issues and agreed to continue work in these areas.

Ari Matusiak, executive director of the White House Business Council, closed out the program.  The White House Business Council is a body composed of over 225 senior Administration officials from the White House and nearly 20 Cabinet and sub-Cabinet agencies.  The Council is one of the principal ways the administration engages directly with business leaders around the country, getting feedback on what the Administration can do to help create jobs and making businesses aware of the programs and resources available to help them grow and succeed.

As the first vice chair of NSBA and a past chair of SBEA, I was proud to represent our organizations at the White House. Exporting and manufacturing are critical to the U.S. economy, and our small businesses will continue to spur growth in both areas. As the elections continue to heat up and candidates hold town-hall meetings in your neighborhoods, I encourage every SBEA member to ask the candidates what they’re doing to enhance small-business exporting.