Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
September 25, 2017
The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 3% last quarter, the fastest pace in more than two years and a welcome sign of momentum following a sluggish recovery. What do we need to do to ensure this progress continues? For one thing, we need to listen to America’s small and midsize business leaders. These economic playmakers often get drowned out in our modern political discourse, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working to make sure their voices are heard—because our country depends on them.
We’ll never kick our economy into high gear if we don’t understand the concerns and goals of the business leaders who are on the ground working to expand their companies every day. In debates over tax reform, health care, regulations, and more, input from these Americans holds the key to boosting the entire country. After all, two-thirds of new private sector jobs come from our 30 million small and midsize businesses. When we respond appropriately to their frustrations, we end up helping our workers and communities too.
The Chamber conducts surveys of small and midsize businesses every quarter, and we use the results to keep our government in tune with our economy. We also host events such as our recent National Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., and our Small Business Series of events across the country. Our priority with these is to listen and then amplify what we hear.
In the case of our most recent surveys, about 60% of small business leaders in the second-quarter had a positive outlook for their companies and the environment in which they operate. Our third-quarter survey of midmarket business owners, released last week, was slightly less encouraging. These leaders are still optimistic, yet their outlook had dimmed from the previous quarter, partly due to a lack of progress on policy reform in Washington.
These business leaders are eager to hold government accountable. At our recent Small Business Summit, for example, we gave attendees the opportunity to engage directly with members of Congress—and the response was overwhelming. About 200 business owners stormed Capitol Hill to talk tax reform and other issues.
With the third-quarter ending this Saturday, we’ll soon get another official reading on America’s economic performance. The Chamber hopes to see continued momentum with another strong quarter. But regardless of the result, it is clear that small and midsize businesses are ready for real action on vital issues like tax reform and infrastructure. Government leaders would do well to listen up—and get moving.