Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), a member of the House Committee on Small Business, spoke at the Small Business Development Conference, Reviving the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Creating Wealth and Opportunity in the 21st Century, this Saturday. The conference was the third in the Positive Community Newark Leadership Roundtable Series co-hosted by Montclair State University School of Business and The Positive Community, with lead sponsor Wells Fargo Bank.
The conference featured panelists from across the region to speak about the importance of small businesses in this economy and creating jobs in the 21st Century. The conference also offered workshops designed to help businesses grow and succeed, including topics ranging from tax and access to capital, to financing and marketing.
Congressman Payne, Jr. opened the well-attended conference. Please find below remarks prepared for delivery:
"It is an honor to join you today to discuss the important role of small businesses, particularly in this 21st century, post recession economy.
"Let me begin by thanking Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite for the introduction and directing Montclair State University's School of Business's role in hosting today's event. I would also like to thank Adrian Council and Jean Nash Wells of the Positive Community for organizing such a timely discussion.
"Last year, small businesses created nearly 700,000 jobs, accounting for 40 percent of employment gains across companies of all sizes, nationwide. So it is fair to say that small businesses are truly the backbone of our economy, and entrepreneurship is still a primary pathway to realizing the American Dream.
"As a member of the House Committee on Small Business, I have continuously worked to increase the support and capital our entrepreneurs and small businesses owners need to get off the ground and grow.
"After Hurricane Sandy, so many of our small businesses were either damaged or destroyed, causing them to close their doors. I am proud to say that I fought for Sandy Relief on the House Floor and will continue to ensure that we rebuild our small businesses, put people back to work, and are stronger than we were before.
"I have been a staunch advocate of expanding access to capital -- especially to minority and women-owned businesses - and strengthening the SBA's lending programs.
"I am also working to reduce overly burdensome regulations so that small business owners can spend more time doing what they love -- running their businesses. I recognize that strengthening small businesses strengthens our entire country because small business owners are the job creators. They are the innovators. And our small businesses ensure that we remain competitive in a 21st Century, global economy.
"A key player in our 21st Century competitiveness is the green job sector. Recognizing the nation's energy boom and green energy potential, I introduced the Green Jobs Act to ensure that green small businesses have the resources to grow their business, hire more workers, and strengthen our nation's competitiveness.
"Because to remain competitive in this world, we have to out-innovate the rest of the world. And my focus has been working to give you the tools you need to make it easier to open your business, grow, and succeed in this competitive, global economy.
"Another concern I know that is affecting small business owners are the changes in President Obama's new health care law. With change, there is always some apprehension. But there are many opportunities under this law. I believe that the law will level the playing field for small businesses who will now be able to offer competitive benefits to their employees.
"For years, small businesses have been vulnerable to steep premium hikes. But because of the Affordable Care Act, small businesses will soon be able to shop in the Health Insurance Marketplace and access better options and lower prices.
"This helps employees and it helps businesses. Because it is proven, providing health care to your workers keeps workers healthier and happier. And when workers are healthier and happier, they are more productive. This is good for owners, it's good for business, and it's good for our economy. So it really is a win-win, and I hope everyone will learn more about it by going to healthcare.gov.
"In closing I want to commend all of you for coming today and congratulate all those who put this important conference together. This conference offers the opportunity to connect and access a wealth of information to plan, develop, and grow small businesses. I encourage each of you to listen, ask questions, and learn. Your current or future business is a vital part of our nation's fabric and your success strengthens our community, our state, and our nation.