U.S. Senator Kay Hagan announced today her newly created Small Business Advisory Committee. The Small Business Advisory Committee will advise her on legislative issues and assist her in the development of policy proposals to support North Carolina's small businesses. Hagan announced the Committee after a tour of The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship in Greensboro, a non-profit committed to enhancing economic development in Greensboro and the surrounding area. Hagan serves on the Senate Small Business Committee.
"This Advisory Committee will make me an even stronger voice for North Carolina small businesses, which are the key to our state's economic recovery," said Hagan. "A strong support system for small business owners means jobs in our state, and jobs are my top priority. A robust dialogue between the small businesses owners on the ground and the people who craft legislation is crucial to making sure policies in Washington reflect the needs of our small businesses. I am eager to hear from the Advisory Committee about their most pressing needs, and I will be ready to take their advice and policy ideas back to Washington."
The Advisory Committee will be led by four co-chairs and comprised of 15-20 small business owners and advocates from across the state who will meet with Senator Hagan and her staff throughout the year.
The Nussbaum Center works to enhance economic development in Greensboro by operating a business incubator that provides new or emerging businesses with space and resources to test out their ideas and find solid footing. The Nussbaum Center has graduated 130 businesses and more than 1,200 jobs have been created as a result.
At the event, Hagan announced the four Committee co-chairs: Oscar Wong, Founder and Owner of Highland Brewing Company in Asheville and the Small Business Administration's 2012 Person of the Year; Andrea Harris, President of the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development; Paul Wetenhall, President of Ventureprise, a public-private non-profit affiliated with UNC Charlotte that seeks to be a catalyst for entrepreneurial innovation; and John Cooper, Owner of the Mast General Store system. Each of these distinguished Co-Chairs has the experience and expertise to help shape a better small business environment in North Carolina.
"Senator Hagan's formation of a Small Business Advisory Committee is a welcome recognition of the vital role of small business in North Carolina and the US," said Oscar Wong. "I am honored to be included."
"I appreciate Senator Hagan's strong interest in entrepreneurs and her commitment to hearing their voices through the Small Business Advisory Committee," said Paul Wetenhall. "I look forward to serving on Senator Hagan's Small Business Advisory Committee and contributing to national policies that will enable North Carolina's entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses that revitalize our economy, create jobs, and generate wealth."
During her time in the Senate, Hagan has worked to support small business in North Carolina. She has supported measures that increase access to capital for small business owners looking to grow their companies, and she supported the Jumpstart Our Businesses Startups (JOBS) Act, which makes it easier for companies to raise money, go public and hire more workers.
Last Congress, Hagan introduced the Small Business Common Application Act to reduce the paperwork burden that small businesses face when applying for federal assistance by establishing a common application. Hagan introduced the bill after a Small Business Administration study revealed that businesses with less than 20 employees may spend more than $10,500 per employee to comply with federal regulations.
Hagan also fought for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which doesn't add one dime to the deficit and has supported $2 billion in export sales by 165 North Carolina companies, the majority of which are small businesses.
Earlier this month, Hagan introduced the bipartisan AMERICA Works Act, a commonsense jobs bill to help address the skills gap and ensure that workers are being trained for the jobs that are available now. The legislation, which is supported by the National Association of Manufacturers and many other associations, employers and educators, establishes a national industry-recognized credentialing system that ties the needs of American businesses to the curriculums of community colleges and job-training centers - matching the skills training with the needs of employers. By getting to the core of the skills gap, Hagan's bill ensures businesses small and large have a pool of qualified workers to fill their open positions.