President Obama: Small Business Is “Backbone of America”

President Obama:
Everybody, please have a seat. So, I’m just gonna hang out
here for about 20 minutes. Karen’s the one who’s
actually in charge — Karen Mills:
Hello, Mr. President. Yeah. He’s my boss here. (laughter) And we have no better advocate
for small businesses than the President, so… I don’t know if you want to hear
some of the stories or thoughts that people are starting
to come out with? President Obama:
You know, I think all I want to
say by way of introduction is, I had the chance to have
breakfast with a couple of your panelists here, and —
three of them, actually — and I was just struck by
the creativity and the stick-to-it-ness that so many
businesses here are exhibiting. The good news, Karen, is
all of them, uniformly, on a bipartisan basis, felt that
the SBA, their local SBA office, is doing a great job
and working really hard. Karen Mills:
Well, I want to point out our
office head there (inaudible). President Obama:
So there you go. Just wanted you to know. (laughter) They were talking behind
your back, and it was good. At the same time, I think
that there was a sense, in the conversation I had
at breakfast this morning, that issues of credit
are still a problem. In particular, smaller
businesses and startup businesses —
$100,000, $200,000 — getting that initial startup
capital oftentimes was a challenge. And we also heard that getting
help on things like marketing could make a big difference for
businesses that want to break out beyond their immediate
communities, and — particularly if they’re
competing with larger businesses, even if they think
they’ve got a better product. So what I said to them is the
same thing that I say to the entire group: We genuinely
believe that small business is the backbone of America. It’s going to be the key for us
to be able to put a lot of folks back to work. What we’re looking for is, how
can we do our jobs better? How can the SBA or USDA or any
of the other federal agencies that touch on rural America on
a regular basis help you create the jobs and businesses and
ideas that I think are so evident in a lot of communities
all across the country. We also heard, by the way, that
there are a lot of young people, I think, who want to be
more entrepreneurial. And so are there ways that
we can connect, for example, the community colleges
— but even beneath that, high schools — to help young
people think about how they go about organizing getting
a business started. So that’s my initial
report from breakfast, and what I want to do is
just hear from all of you. And Karen will be
taking copious notes, and she is somebody who I know
is going to execute on any ideas that make sense. So, with that —

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