While federal legislators continue to muse about whether there should be focused recession relief aimed at small business such as the nationwide emergency lending facility proposed by President Barack Obama last year, some states are stepping into the breach, calling small businesses together and trying to figure out how to help them.
For instance, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is holding a small business summit next month, inviting more than 20 business owners from around the state to brainstorm on how the state can make it easier to do business in the state. Planned session topics included cutting red tape, working with the state's Small Business Regulatory Advisory Council, and better connecting small business owners with the state's workforce agencies.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.-La.), who heads the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, went that one better with a Small Business Outreach Conference in Thibodaux, La., last week. The event was designed to help business owners in Landrieu's home state better access both state and federal assistance programs. Among them: Louisiana Economic Development's small and emerging business development program. Landrieu is holding eight of these outreach fairs around her state this year.
The recession seems to have a positive effect on legislators' relationships with small businesses--many are reaching out, asking questions, and looking for new ways to help small businesses survive.
What's going on in your state? If you've seen new efforts to help small business where you live, comment and let us know. The federal government has taken some action--some $4 billion, or $1 of every $4 of stimulus-bill funds distributed so far have gone to small business, according to recent SBA reports--but the sector is still hurting, and can use all the help it can get.
If you see an opportunity to meet with legislators to talk about small business concerns, try to grab it. Once the economy improves, legislators may not be as open to new ideas as they are now.