Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where Oh Where is Small Business?

The Pepsi Center was packed last night. I felt so lucky to have a credential to be there. And I felt lucky that I got there early enough to get a seat!

Yes, you get a better view by watching on TV. I hear people say the same thing about going to sporting events. But to me, there’s nothing like experiencing it live.

The people on the stage were only small blurs I was so high up. But as the saying goes: “At least I was in the building.”

I am here to represent Women Impacting Public Policy. So I paid particular attention to what, if anything, was said about small business. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to take too many notes.

Speaker after speaker said nothing about small business. The theme on Tuesday night definitely seemed to be “energy” and “hard times.”

The first speaker I heard mention small business was Nancy Floyd, founder of Nth Power, an energy technology investment firm in Portland, Oregon. She mentioned that small businesses can help solve the energy crisis and how they are getting private funding, but no assistance from the government. I wanted to hear more.

Then the Honorable Nydia Velazquez, member of the US House of Representatives from New York and Chair of the House Small Business Committee, spoke. Her entire speech was on small business and women-owned businesses. “There are billions in lost opportunities because women business owners do not have access to the marketplace. We must demand a level playing field. Neglecting small business is what creates unemployment.”

Her ending words were, “Small business is big business in America. The entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of this country.”

Speech after speech, I’m not sure how many people listen. They are truly waiting for the evening headliners and only the headliners are covered live on television.

The keynote address was by the Honorable Mark Warner, Senate candidate and former Governor of Virginia. He was a small business owner and briefly talked about his three endeavors.

Governor Warner gave a good speech but what a difficult position he was in (which he mentioned). The keynote speech four years ago was given by the junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. And the real headliner was yet to come.

Three current governors spoke after Warner and –before Hillary—and gave great speeches—Ted Strickland of Ohio, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Brian Schweitzer of Montana, who was particularly entertaining. Any of these three would have been great if featured as “the” keynote.

Senator Hillary Clinton brought down the house. She did mention small business once but clearly, it was not the focus of her speech.

President Bill Clinton arrived just before Governor Warner’s speech. Right before Hillary spoke, white Hillary signs were passed out throughout the Pepsi Center. I saw President Clinton refuse the signs that were being passed to him.

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