On January 13, 2012, after President Obama delivered his remarks on business and the economy in the East Room of the White House (i was sitting in the third row about 12-15 feet from the President), our group was directed to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for the White House Business Council conversation on jobs and the economy.
The discussion was opened by Ari Matusiak who serves as Executive Director of the White House Business Council. He described what he hoped to be accomplished during the following four hours, which was to introduce several new online resources within the Administration and public-private partnership to help grow small businesses, to get perspectives and input on how to improve the policymaking, and to give us the opportunity to ask questions and get answers directly from the Administration officials.
Ari Matusiak emphasized on President Obama’s speech about the existing complex and costly web of several federal departments providing access to federal resources and services and his decision to cut through the bureaucracy and consolidate unnecessary departments. He also mentioned “BusinessUSA”, the platform that consolidates information and services from across the government into a single, integrated network for business owners and entrepreneurs, which will be launched in early this year. (http://business.usa.gov/)
Then, he asked for inputs on the biggest obstacles and concern faced by small businesses in the communities we came from. Access to capital, costly regulatory and compliance burden and government bureaucracy were the top three on our lists.
Mr. Matusiak introduced the rest of the speakers:
· Mark Doms, Chief Economist, Department of Commerce
· Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce
· Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer
· Andre Gudger, Director of Small Business Programs, Department of Defense
· Greg Nelson, Deputy Director, Office of Public Engagement
The briefings continue as follows:
Mr. Mark Doms, Chief Economist, Department of Commerce, gave us an overview of US 2011 economy and started by stating that the 2011 job market started strong. There were five negative events that affected the 2011 job market trend, which were the oil/energy/gasoline prices that jumped up, the uncertainty on the European financial markets, the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan which created supply/production problems, the US debt debacle, and the fear of a “double digit” recession. Per Mr. Doms, the overall economy gained some steam at the end of 201. The job growth picked up some in December primarily due to the 280,000 jobs lost. The Chief Economist clarified that more than a half of those were education job cuts.
Mr. Doms continued with what was ahead for 2012 – anticipated moderate growth. To the questions of what holds us back and why moderate, he mentioned the following reasons: a) the European economic situation and uncertainties; b) the US housing market; c) the continuous job cuts in the government sector; and d) the gas prices. He mentioned that in 2011, the gas price increase did not affect the US gas consumption. In regards to growth in exports, Mark Doms made a remark that the uncertainty comes to a degree to the uncertain demand of US products and services on the word market.
Next, Matt Erskine briefed us on some administration initiatives for job creation and economic growth. He emphasized on the new programs for stimulating exports, local manufacturing, and innovation.
When Aneesh Chopra took the stand, our entire group felt overwhelming inspiration and excitement from what was ahead in terms of innovation and technology. He did an overview of administration initiatives for boosting innovation in light of the America COMPETES Act and stated that innovation is the key to the success of our economy. He discussed information technology initiatives in improving health care, smart energy and education as well as access to capital for research and development (R&D), engineering, and mathematics education.
Andre Gudger, Director of Small Business Programs Office at the Department of Defense, described his role as ensuring that small businesses are able to compete for government contracts. He mentioned initiatives such as Quick Pay (improves cash flow cycle) and moving away from low-cost technically acceptable contracts.
More to follow..