Change starts with listening

Pacific Northwest Region - March 5, 2019

u s small business administration

Real Policy Change for Small Business Starts with Listening

SBA Regional Administrator Jeremy Field

By Jeremy Field
SBA Regional Administrator, Pacific Northwest

Throughout the day, we are repeatedly asked, “How are you?” It’s become a common greeting which is seldom taken literally. Despite the meaning of the words, the question is not viewed as an invitation to share.

Yet real change happens when we stop, ask and listen, something we take very seriously at the SBA.

Recently, SBA Administrator and Cabinet Member Linda McMahon completed her SBA Ignite Tour. In just shy of two years, she visited businesses in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico and in all 68 SBA districts nationwide.

A cornerstone and primary objective of her tour was listening. She sampled coffee and craft beer in Oregon, she toured businesses in and around Pike Place Market in Washington, she visited manufacturing plants and bike shops in Idaho, and she even traveled to remote villages in Alaska to talk face-to-face with small business owners. In fact, she met with more than 800 small business owners nationwide.

During her meetings with small businesses, she heard a lot of the same things I hear when I visit and talk with local owners. Topics like taxes, financing, service access in rural areas, and workforce development, among others, are often part of the conversation.

Only through frequent, active and sincere listening can we be the voice and advocate for small business in “the other Washington.”

Listening to small businesses and entrepreneurs led to real policy changes like the Tax and Jobs Act of 2017. It also led to the SBA partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to connect rural entrepreneurs with the financing and certifications they need to start, grow, expand and recover.


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