WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - President Barack Obama reached out to the nation’s small business owners to enlist their help in reviving the fading U.S. economy, and, for the second time in as many months, the leadership of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce was there, bringing along NGLCC’s small business members to hear from the president and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
As the president unveiled his plan to get credit flowing again to entrepreneurs and business owners, LGBT business owners from the Washington region were in the audience at the invitation of the White House and the NGLCC.
“I think this administration more than any other is determined to include the views of every business group in the deliberations about what’s best for the United States,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the NGLCC. “We look forward to continuing to participate in those discussions.”
This is the fourth time that NLGCC leadership and NGLCC-certified companies have attended White House-sponsored events in 2009, and it represents a significant departure from the last administration which made no attempt to include LGBT business representatives.
“The White House continues to recognize the importance of including the LGBT business community in its events because this administration understands it will take all of us working together to repair the economy,” said Kate Karasmeighan, chief of staff and director of affiliate relations at the NGLCC.
At the White House event, Obama called small businesses “the heart of the American dream” and the core of “America’s story.”
“You deserve a chance. America needs you to have a chance,” Obama said as he announced a series of initiatives to reduce taxes for small businesses, provide increased access to loans and decrease loan fees.
His words cheered LGBT business owners who noted that it was heartening to be included in the event alongside other American small business owners and to be recognized by the president as playing important roles in the economy.
“I believe this invitation to the LGBT business owners is one of many steps being taken to include, and even welcome, the LGBT community to the White House,” says Megan Wallace, a lawyer and member of NGLCC, and PEN, NGLCC’s Washington, DC area affiliate chamber. “I am more encouraged every day that the Obama administration is here to make positive changes, not just for the LGBT community, but for so many underrepresented groups. I appreciate the NGLCC’s leadership in ensuring LGBT businesses are included.”
“Being invited to take part in this White House gathering very early in this administration is a message for all LGBT business owners,” said Bob Witeck of Witeck-Combs Communications, an NGLCC-member. “Once again, this is truly America’s house, and we are not just part of the family but also part of the economic recovery itself.”
Small businesses are integral to the success of the economy, having created some 70 percent of the nation’s new jobs over the past decade. Loosening credit, which as dried up in recent months, will allow them to continue to thrive.
Under Obama’s plan, the U.S. Department of Treasury will purchase up to $15 billion in securities backed by Small Business Administration loans, growing the secondary loan market to free up capital for banks to make additional loans.
“Small businesses were feeling a bit overlooked by the stimulus plans and these initiatives signal that the administration recognizes the importance of our survival, said Eileen Kessler, president of OmniStudio, an NGLCC-certified business and a member of PEN. “It's very critical that benefits reach businesses like ours during these challenging times, because smaller firms lead the way in generating new jobs."
LGBT groups have been included in the administration’s discussions on health care challenges as well and were invited to participate in a March 5 health care summit at the White House.
The other elements of Obama’s plans for small business are:
• Increasing the government guarantee on certain SBA loans from up to 85 percent to up to 90 percent.
• Allowing businesses to write off up $250,000 on new capital equipment investments, nearly double the previous amount.
• Requiring banks receiving government aid to report each month on how much money they lend to small businesses.
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