Mayor Article

Mayors Welcome New Small Business Initiative Partner America™

March 6, 2000


At the Friday session of the Winter Leadership Meeting, Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran introduced American Management Services Chairman and CEO George Cloutier by saying small businesses make an important contribution to the national economy – providing jobs, exports and technical assistance. Mr. Cloutier provided statistics (see chart) on the number of small businesses in key cities to emphasize the importance of Partner America™. This new city resource brings the Conference and American Management together to create Partner America™, the Conference’s comprehensive public-private initiative focusing on small business. Partner America™ is a joint effort between the Conference and American Management, designed to provide management expertise, technical assistance, education, and government procurement capability and resource program opportunities to small and mid-sized firms in every state and hundreds of cities across the nation. Partner America™ is the Conference’s first comprehensive public-private initiative focusing on small businesses. Cochran stressed the importance of the program as “providing a bridge for Mayors and small business with government programs, private sector expertise and capital access.”

Cochran lauded American Management as one of the nation’s premier management services firms specializing in critical strategic management and profitability programs for small and mid-sized businesses. Since 1986, when Cloutier founded the company, American Management has helped 5,000 small businesses in the Eastern US increase their profitability. Cloutier started the company with one employee and $47,000 capitalization; today American Management has 125 employees and estimated sales for 1999-2000 of more than $25 million. Many of American Management’s clients are privately held companies with $2.5-$300 million annual sales. American Management’s mission is:

  • To pinpoint the key issues and concerns faced by small business;

  • To convince ownership to confront those problems and their real costs; and

  • To assist management in developing and implementing the necessary programs, methods and procedures which result in improved sales, profits and organizational effectiveness.

Cloutier stressed that the entrepreneurial sector is a growing and increasingly powerful force in our economy by providing the following statistics:

  • There are 23 million small businesses in the US;

  • 850,000 new small businesses are started each year;

  • 64% of the 2.5 million jobs created annually in the US are in small business;

  • Small business represents 99.7% of all employers;

  • Small businesses employ 53% of the private work force;

  • Small businesses provide 47% of all US sales;

  • Small businesses provide 55% of innovations;

  • Small businesses account for 35% of federal contract dollars;

  • Small businesses account for 28% of all high tech jobs;

  • Small businesses account for 51% of private sector output; and

  • Small businesses represent 96% of all US exporters.

Cloutier describes the role of American Management as the implementer, helping small and mid-sized companies to realize profits. American Management and the Conference believe the key to a successful business is effective management. The first step is the Business Survey(, consisting of 75-100 hours of on-site analysis by American Management over 3-6 weeks. Cloutier believes that for the program to be effective, the business must be committed to the process; hence the initial $500 survey fee. 200 functional areas are analyzed to address owners’ concerns, problems and challenges. There is also a confidential employee questionnaire. According to American Management, companies likely to benefit from American Management’s services are in “economic or growth pain, and their business owners are often ambitious, open-minded, hardworking and do not claim to have all the answers.” American Management has helped small and mid-sized businesses in over 400 industries. The analysis provides the small business with:

  • A comprehensive assessment of financial performance;

  • A thorough review of the organizational and operational weaknesses;

  • A comparative review of peer businesses in the top 25%; and

  • A blueprint of recommendations and solutions identifying costs and benefits.

The areas of ownership that are evaluated include sales and marketing, operations, administration, finance, organization, personnel and computerization. American Management provides the business with a comprehensive report of the results of the survey, including an executive summary, management method recap, employee diagnostic evaluation, organization audit, financials, industry ratios including asset to sales and inventory turnover, operating controls and systems and a summary of proposed programs. The report provides operational recommendations and savings estimates, and covers a wide range of issues including training, office paper and information flow, asset utilization, standards of performance, employee confidence, job costing, customer satisfaction, financial predetermined profit structure, accounting systems, etc.

Following completion of the survey and the detailed analysis American Management is prepared to work with the small business to implement profits. American Management will:

  • Help develop turnkey programs including training personnel and sales.

  • Implement budgeting and operational controls.

  • Manage cash and make payment decisions with the owner’s knowledge and approval.

  • Roll-out “pay for performance” programs.

  • Hire, fire and train personnel with owner approval.

  • Close and/or restructure losing operations or entire divisions.

Through Partner America™, mayors and small business can come together to build and strengthen the economic base for a community to everyone’s benefit. Mayor Johnson encouraged his colleagues to “learn more and take an active role in promoting Partner America™, an innovative program to help the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.”

During the dialogue Mayors offered examples of how Partner America™ could enhance small business development in their cities. Mayor Plusquellic said Partner America™ “is a great opportunity for Mayors to reach out in a more significant way than they do now. It is important because small business is the most important sector of the economy.”

Cloutier, joined by Morris Reid, American Management Senior Vice President, went on to describe how mayors can benefit by putting their small business constituents in touch with this program and federal partner agencies. Opportunities for Mayoral involvement include hosting a roundtable discussion or seminar for small businesses addressing topics such as business management and federal agency resources and programs available to small business.

Through Partner America™, the Conference, American Management and local Mayors will aggressively advocate for small business development and growth. American Management will provide its implementation-based, profit improvement programs to interested firms, and will facilitate participation in federal resource and private capital access programs determined appropriate for the business. “Businesses cannot simply finance their way to profitability. It can only be achieved through effective and committed management”, remarked Cloutier. “Our role will be to help businesses achieve all of the profits they deserve and take advantage of the billions of dollars of federal resources earmarked for small businesses”.

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference, remarked, “We created Partner America™ with American Management to equip Mayors with new initiatives designed to strengthen the local economy, bring federal resources to the local areas, increase the tax base, and create a vital and sustainable business community.”

For more information, contact Jennifer Johnson, Managing Director, Partner America™ on the toll free hotline at 1-877-PRTNRAM (1-877-778-6726).

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