Small Business Associations Join Forces to Strengthen Advocacy

The Small Business Roundtable includes six associations representing self-employed workers, women, and entrepreneurs from black and Asian/Pacific Islander communities.

As small business concerns are threatened to become lost amid other Congressional and White House priorities, six associations have united to better promote the role of their members in the American economy.

The Small Business Roundtable, launched last week, is designed to “advocate for policies that foster American entrepreneurship,” said Todd McCracken, president and CEO of the National Small Business Association (NSBA), in a statement. By joining forces, SBR hopes to give the member associations a “more cohesive voice on public policy [and] allow small business leaders a place to share information and increase their influence.”

The group’s six founding members are NSBA, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), the National Association for the Self-Employed, National Association of Women Business Owners, the U.S. Black Chambers, and the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (National ACE).

The roundtable amplifies those goals and amplifies the voice with which we’re talking about those goals.

NSBA already advocates on behalf of its members, but VP of Public Affairs Molly Day said that a consortium of groups can help provide better visibility to the concerns of small businesses around issues such as infrastructure, healthcare, and automation. “Our belief is that [SBR] amplifies those goals and amplifies the voice with which we’re talking about those goals,” she said. “I think it expands our footprint a bit, bringing some different players to the mix.”

To that point, the Roundtable brought in a number of identity-related groups to be among its founding members. “All too often, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are left out of policy-making discussions,” said Chiling Tong, president and CEO of National ACE, in a statement. “National ACE looks forward to providing critical input to ensure the needs our communities’ small businesses are met and that the next generation of millennial entrepreneurs have the resources they need to succeed.”

That inclusiveness, Day said, was essential for understanding the scope of concerns in the small business arena both for SBR and NSBA. “There are unique goals and unique challenges that different diverse populations face,” she said. “This allows us to be more in tune to some of the challenges they’re facing, so that we can then work with our membership on that as well.”

Though SBR hasn’t announced a set of specific policy goals, it arrives under some concern that the White House and Congress are giving the small business community short shrift. For instance, this year the Trump administration proposed a 25 percent budget cut for the Small Business Administration, and though the final budget that passed Congress and was signed by President Trump preserved SBA’s funding, it left unresolved matters such as employer liability for subcontractors, a pressing issue in the small business community.

“Meaningful action on the real small business policy agenda oftentimes takes a back seat to rhetoric or narrow special interests,” said Karen Kerrigan, SBR chair and president and CEO of SBE Council. “SBR plans to transform that narrative.”

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Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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