Air Date

January 14, 2021

Featured Guest

Thomas Smith
Executive Director, American Society of Civil Engineers


Neil Bradley
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Public policy can enhance small businesses and help bring an end to the unprecedented suffering these businesses, their workers and their communities have faced due to the coronavirus.

With a new presidential administration taking office alongside a new session of Congress, experts have their eye on domestic policies around infrastructure, jobs and immigration that may support the success of small businesses. Here is the current state of each of these matters and how progress on these policies would affect business.

Rehauling the Nation’s Infrastructure Will Help Stimulate the Economy

Infrastructure is one of the most commonly discussed bipartisan issues that never gets resolved. Rehauling our nation's infrastructure legislation would not only update the current infrastructure but also stimulate the economy, create middle-class jobs and address climate change.

Extensive infrastructure reform could be key in our national economic recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus. In the short term, there will be new jobs available, putting people back to work and stimulating the economy. In the long term, the government and the American people will save money.

“Over the next 20 years, the average American household will spend $3,300 a year due to infrastructure deficiencies,” said Thomas Smith, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “This is lost disposable income from the disruptions of inadequate infrastructure.”

“If we don't act, we really think that by 2039 we are forecasted to lose over $10 trillion in GDP, including $2.4 trillion in exports,” Smith added. “Our national trade deficit will grow by $626 billion, we'll lose 3 million jobs by 2039.”

Currently, there is optimism that an infrastructure bill that addresses transportation, bridges, roads, water infrastructure, and other inequalities will get passed through Congress and signed into law.

Domestic Policies Around Job Training Can Help Unemployed Workers

One of the biggest problems affecting the American workforce is the lack of skilled workers. Tens of millions of jobs were displaced during the coronavirus pandemic, yet some sectors of the economy are returning. Washington is now seeking solutions on how to get unemployed workers trained and matched to these open positions.

One of the domestic policies looking to address these inequalities is Kentucky's Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) program. Originally started in 2018, TPM is an employer-led initiative that created a system pulling from 27 collaborative industries to build the talent for the job force. This training program was designed by the business owners in their community to equip workers with the necessary skills. And with the coronavirus pandemic displacing so many jobs, it's only become more of an asset for businesses to support one another.

“Throughout the pandemic they also had each other to rely on to ask questions about and talk about how one business was doing across different parts of the state,” said Ashli Watts, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “They almost had the kind of their little mini associations where we could make connections and have solutions within those groups.”

Immigration Reform Is Essential to Business Growth

Immigration is one of the most divisive issues facing the country. There hasn't been any significant reform in over 30 years.

Industries such as agriculture that rely heavily on immigrant workers and have been reimagined because of the coronavirus pandemic especially need immigration reform to help revitalize their workforce and continue to realize the American dream.

“[Immigrants] come to the U.S., I believe for our democracy, because our democracy provides the freedom and opportunity for somebody to pursue their dreams,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And I think that this is the opportunity for Republicans in Congress [and] the Biden administration to see immigration as an opportunity to bring the country back together, create bipartisan change that meets the needs of the American worker and their families.”