Conference helps small businessAbout 80 business owners and nonprofit leaders from around the region Thursday participated in a small business conference hosted by Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Ashland.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
About 80 business owners and nonprofit leaders from around the region Thursday participated in a small business conference hosted by Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Ashland.
The one-day business conference at the University of Wisconsin-Superior gave business leaders an opportunity to learn about doing business with tribal and federal governments, and learn more about exporting their wares.
Julianne Raymond, director of the Small Business Development Center, coordinated the event designed to help small businesses in the region grow.
“This is not Wall Street,” Duffy said. “We are Main Street America and I think government has done a lot to make it more difficult to do business. And I thought here’s a way we can actually try to become involved and help our small businesses.”
Duffy said they decided to pick topics that could be expanded on in that effort.
“There are resources available … but not everyone may be aware of those resources and how to utilize that,” Duffy said.
The conference brought together a variety of federal, state, regional and local experts to give people a chance to learn more about creative financing for job creation, doing business with Native American tribes, Jobs Act technical assistance, doing business with the government, regional business development resources available and doing business internationally.
Eric Ness, Wisconsin district director with the U.S. Small Business Administration was the keynote speaker.
“It’s important to put folks in contact with other resources to present those products,” Duffy said.
The conference is just one of many outreach efforts the congressman is planning to help small businesses throughout the 7th District to thrive.
The goal is to help small businesses reach out with their products into new markets to help stimulate the economy.
In traveling the district and talking to business owners, Duffy said there has been a common theme in discussions — burdensome regulations that interfere with producing products and creating jobs.
“I’m not saying we don’t want any regulation at all, but what we’ve seen is a pile on of regulation after regulation … and we see more resources being devoted to compliance. It just makes it harder for them to do business … I think we should make it easier.”
Mayor Bruce Hagen agreed.
“It’s about jobs, not government,” Hagen said.
Government is often too much in line with regulatory agencies and the city is working to change that image in Superior. As a small business owner himself, Hagen said too much time is “wasted” complying with government regulations and takes away the productivity of a business.
“For every hour, paper, sheet, report you have to do, it takes away from the economy,” Hagen said.
Government doesn’t create jobs, businesses do, Hagen said. And government can do a lot to hamper that job creation, or government can get out of the way and listen to the needs of businesses.
It was by listening that Duffy introduced reform to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Duffy’s Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Act was designed to increase transparency, oversight and accountability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Dodd-Frank Act.
“This agency that was created is very powerful and they can implement rules they say will help consumers, but they don’t have to be concerned about the safety and soundness of financial institutions. And that’s the gold standard of banking …”
Duffy said his bill gives banks a voice when rules designed to protect consumers put banks at systemic risk.
While Wall Street institutions may go in and make noise to have issues that could put the banking system and economy at risk, that’s not necessarily true for the financial institutions on Main Street.
“My bill would give them a voice, allow them to petition,” he said of Main Street community banks like National Bank of Commerce in Superior or Northern State Bank in Ashland.
And the access to capital banks provide can be critical to helping business get through the rough times or expand, Duffy said.
Ness said the U.S. Small Business Administration doesn’t offer direct loans, and relies on local financial institutions to assist businesses in starting up.
“They’re the lifeblood of making sure economic activity takes place, Duffy said of local financial institutions.