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Obama in Cleveland to talk small business

Cody Cousino / Lantern photographer

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Cleveland State University today along with members of his cabinet to hold a Winning the Future Forum to hear from small business owners and leaders on how to develop the economy.

“The president will continue his focus on jobs and he will be focusing on how we can work together with small and large businesses to grow the economy and put people back to work,” said White House deputy communications director Jennifer Psaki in a conference call Friday.

The forum, in association with northeast Ohio economic development organizations JumpStart America and NorTech, will begin and conclude with remarks from the president. The majority of the forum will be broken down into sessions on workforce development, clean energy, exports, entrepreneurship and access to capital and tax breaks for small business.

The forum is pivotal because two-thirds of the net job growth in the U.S. comes from small business and half of employed Americans own or work for a small business, said Karen Mills, administrator of Small Business Administration.

“There’s nothing I like better than to go out and listen to small businesses,” Mills said.

Faculty at Ohio State also like the idea of government listening to ideas and concerns from small business leaders.

“Anytime you can get feedback from small business to help our government and society it’s going to help,” said Lucia Dunn, an OSU economics professor.

Senior lecturer in the Fisher College of Business, Marc Ankerman, has the opportunity to participate in such an event since he is a small business owner himself. He owns Ankerman Training Solutions, a training and development consultant for large and small companies.

“I would love to do that. Anytime a small business owner gets an opportunity to talk about how taxes are influenced and how we can stimulate jobs is great,” Ankerman said. “Letting any of us voice our opinions make America what it is.”

Mills said some of the tools the government has given small business owners in the past few years have been important tools.

“The ability of these entrepreneurs and other small businesses to get the tools they need — the access of capital, the entrepreneurial mentoring and the reduction in regulatory barriers and issues, so that they can grow and do what they do best,” Mills said.

The past couple of years have seen 17 tax cuts for small businesses and $41 billion in the hands of small businesses through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, Mills said.

“There’s nothing small business owners like better or can do more with than cash in their pocket from tax cuts,” Mills said.

The Small Business Jobs Bill was the “most important piece of small business legislation in over 10 years,” Mills said.

Dunn explained the importance of small business on America’s economy.

“Every town has small businesses. They may only employ two or three people, but they’re so spread out. If they can get help, it will help everyone,” Dunn said. “No area is going to be left out because they’re distributed as the population is distributed.”

Ankerman said there are a few advantages small businesses have over large ones in the workforce they are able to hire.

“They can hire different people for flexibility of hours, which allows them to do what some large businesses can’t,” Ankerman said. “There’s an opportunity for small businesses to hire a diverse group of people which allows for more community.”

In Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25, he spoke of the need to compete globally by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building. Mills considers this forum to be a good opportunity to do so.

“It is our entrepreneurs who really are at the heart of America’s ability to compete and create jobs,” Mills said.


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