January 12, 2021
Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, ADP, Principal and Investment Strategist, Edward Jones
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Amid the challenges of the last year, including a global pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis, American business has remained a resilient force. Through strong leadership, businesses have adapted to changing circumstances and have been at the forefront of our nation’s recovery. In conversation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the 2021 State of American Business event, political and business leaders came together to discuss the role of American business in the country’s recovery.
Business and Government Must Continue to Work Together to Rebuild
Over the past year, government leaders and U.S. Chamber partners worked together to support businesses through these unprecedented times. Sweeping federal aid, new trade deals and a substantial energy package were all implemented to protect and promote business development.
These efforts will continue into 2021, when America must work to rebuild its economy and reassert its leadership and competitiveness, said U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.
“It will take the collective strength of the thousands of members of the business community … [and] the millions of others who helped power our economy,” Donohue emphasized. “Together, we can help lead our country out of the crisis and into a brighter future.”
Vaccine Distribution and Congressional Action Offer a Light at the End of the Tunnel
While the economy has started to bounce back from the pandemic, not all sectors are recovering equally. According to ADP Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Nela Richardson, small businesses and low-income workers in leisure and hospitality have been hit the hardest.
While the short-term will continue to be challenging for these sectors, “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Richardson said. “We have a financial system that is willing and able to make use of low-cost funding to help restart these businesses and a vaccine that will hopefully be distributed widely and as soon as possible.”
Another reason for optimism is the bipartisan efforts in Congress to support those who have been most affected by the pandemic. In addition to passing stimulus packages for short-term relief, Congressional leaders are also working to develop long-term solutions to rebuild and fortify our economy. One example: The Advance Act, co-sponsored by The Honorable Abigail Spanberger (D) and The Honorable John M. Katko (R).
“[The bill] would strengthen our government’s ability to respond to future public health crises and natural disasters by prioritizing the coordination of information,” explained Spanberger.
American Business and Democracy Are Inherently Connected
Recent political unrest has brought the protection of democracy to the forefront of our country’s priorities. However, this political issue also becomes an economic one: business and democracy are inherently connected, and each thrives when the other one is present.
“[Democracy] gives business the best possible environment of freedom to compete and innovate, and it provides accountable and transparent government and governance,” stressed Andrew Wilson, Executive Director of CIPE.
So how can businesses contribute to democracy? According to Marlene M. Colucci, Executive Director of The Business Council, the role of businesses is twofold: to provide leadership and to collaborate with their government to support their communities. She recalled a powerful example of the development of the OneTen Coalition, which supports the upskilling, hiring and support of Black Americans looking to advance in corporate America.
Businesses Have Adapted, Innovated and Driven Change for Good
Through our nation’s past and present challenges, the heart of business has remained stable. Businesses across the country have adapted to change, created new solutions and focused on driving change for their communities. Uber’s stay-at-home campaign, Edward Jones’ employee health initiatives, 3M’s investment in the Twin Cities to promote racial justice — these are just a few instances in which businesses are finding new ways to drive profits and promote the greater good.
As our nation continues to recover, it will be the innovation of businesses that rebuilds an economy and a country that is stronger than ever.