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Small businesses are the backbone of American cities and contribute significantly to the stability and health of our nation’s economy. There are 23 million small businesses in the United States that represent 64% of the 2.5 million new jobs created each year. There is a huge benefit to everyone in helping these small business owners improve their profits and sales because it brings immeasurable benefits to our cities and metropolitan areas.
At the Conference of Mayors 68th Winter Meeting, Partner America™ was announced, a unique small business/city resource initiative created to help Mayors interact more effectively with small business owners and federal agencies. Designed to provide management expertise, technical assistance, education and government procurement opportunities to small and mid-sized firms in every state and hundreds of cities across the nation, Partner America™ is the first comprehensive public-private initiative focused on American small businesses.
Mayors want to know how they can participate in Partner America™ and how they take an active role in promoting small businesses in their communities. We are working with Mayors across the country to organize Partner America™ small business days, including forums, presentations, workshops and open dialogue about private, local, and federal small business resources. The program would include federal agency experts, i.e., the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank of the US, and senior executives from American Management Services, a company that has helped over 5,000 small businesses in the Eastern US and resulting in savings over $1 billion. It is an opportunity to introduce small businesses, federal and local programs, and city and local officials to Partner America™. Partner America™ is designed to facilitate dialogue and the sharing of information by bringing together the Mayor, small and mid-sized businesses, American Management’s technical and management expertise, and federal and local agencies to discuss the tools, resources and procurement opportunities that are available to small business. Each event will be tailored to the needs of the individual communities and may be conducted in coordination with the office of Economic Development Administration, the local chamber or other business organization.
A sample schedule for a one-day small business conference is outlined below. Partner America™ will assist Mayors with developing the program, inviting and confirming speakers, coordinating agency outreach, and providing assistance as needed.
As previously mentioned this is a sample schedule and can be adjusted according to the Mayor’s objectives and time frame. Each event will be developed in close coordination with the Mayor’s office, working to develop new and creative ways to promote Partner America™ and small business.
As previously mentioned, local groups and organizations can be a tremendous resource in organizing a Mayoral business event. The local Chamber of Commerce generally has a strong membership and is often adept at organizing business events. The local/regional offices of the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Export-Import Bank are also important resources in developing a program and the invitation list and helping extend Mayors’ outreach into the business community.
The cost of hosting a small business event is frequently raised. Although each event will be done differently, the cost should be minimal. The Mayor’s office generally has access to some facility to accommodate a large gathering and likely smaller rooms will also be available to use for breakout sessions and discussion. Other resources include companies headquartered in the area, or mid-smaller sized companies as likely candidates to sponsor a breakfast or lunch event in return for visibility, such as the company name on a program, banner, table tents, and formal recognition during remarks.
The Mayor’s leadership in developing and hosting an event will make each Partner America™ small business day unique. It is important to capitalize on the uniqueness and individuality of the Mayor and city. One method is to hold the event at a venue/location that is particular to the region – the building/area has an interesting history, is an example of a small business success story, draws a parallel to the conference issues being discussed, etc. Potential venues could include the local chamber, business, school, World Trade Center, or an area of the community being refurbished/revitalized. The event might also include a tour of a local business, a press conference, exhibits, and one-on-one meetings or consultations.
We are willing to work with the Conference members to develop events that are appropriate to their goals and the needs of their small business constituents. Given that this is an inaugural program, we have room for much creativity and flexibility.
Some things to think about when considering hosting a small business event:
Please contact Jennifer Johnson,
Managing Director, Partner America™ for additional information or to schedule
your city’s small business event at 1-877-PRTNRAM (1-877-778-6726).