White House Meets with Business Leaders to Discuss New Economic Design
Allan M. Oliver
“I have been to hundreds of stakeholder meetings and this is definitely the best one I have ever been in.” That was the conclusion drawn by one of the senior White House officials who attended last month’s meeting with leading members of the American Sustainable Business Council. As the representative for the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, I couldn’t agree more. Business has a new voice in the halls of U.S. Government.
The American Sustainable Business Council convened the meeting with President Barack Obama’s Economic Development team to lay out innovative strategies and policies to rebuild the U.S. economy. The administration’s team included Don Graves from the President’s Council on Jobs and Development, Greg Nelson, White House Office of Public Engagement, Ari Matusiak, White House Business Council, and representatives from the National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisors, Domestic Policy Council, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury and the Office of Science & Technology Policy.
But equally newsworthy was the business organization sitting across the table. Founded only three years ago, the American Sustainable Business Council now represents through its member organizations over 100,000 businesses and more than 200,000 entrepreneurs, owners, executives, investors and business professionals. According to David Levine, Co-founder and Executive Director of the ASBC, “Each of these businesses is committed to building a vibrant, equitable and sustainable economy.” The business members of both the American Sustainable Business Council and the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce have recognized the need for an alternative business view in both state legislatures and on Capitol Hill.
It makes sense for the Administration to look in this direction. Investors are now allocating over $2 trillion into building a new green economy, and it is expected to grow by $10 trillion by 2020. In this economy, companies are establishing new sustainable practices, creating new markets, reducing costs of business and building consumer trust. As the Harvard Business Review noted in September 2009, “Sustainability is now the Driver of Innovation.”
At the June meeting, the ASBC members laid out positions on a variety of pro-business initiatives to move the U.S. toward a global 21st century economy. For example, increasing small business access to capital, a realistic tax policy, boosting American manufacturing in America, and a greater emphasis on renewable energy, as well as accessible and affordable healthcare. To that end, Frank Knapp with the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce noted, “A key issue discussed during the meeting was guaranteeing small businesses access to affordable capital. Boosting local economies by helping small businesses create jobs is a high priority.”
Connie Evans, CEO of the Association For Enterprise Opportunity explained, “If the economy is going to bounce back it must happen on Main Street. ‘Micro’ or very small business, represents more than 80% of all businesses in the U.S. If just 1/3 of all micro-businesses hired one employee, the U.S. would be at full employment.”
After consultation with Green Chamber board members and businesses such as Clean Switch Solar, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Concept Green, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce offered positive initiatives on low-cost health care programs for business, Property Assessed Clean Energy districts, and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
Two things were clear at the end of the White House meeting: the Obama Administration had heard, and took seriously the new initiatives; secondly, that a new national voice for business has been established, which will continue to provide better, healthier long-term solutions for America’s next economy. The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce is glad to be a member of the ASBC and to help strengthen that new voice for business.
The NMGCC is a nonprofit non-partisan business association with 1,200 members dedicated to supporting local economics, helping businesses green their operations, and protecting our air, land and water by advocating for a clean energy economy. 505.859.3433, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nmgreenchamber.com. The American Sustainable Business Council website is www.asbcouncil.org.
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