Yesterday I attended the “Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century” conference in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
There were 1200 people there, about 90% of whom were women. Most were entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The main reason I went was to hear the keynote address by President George Bush. I wanted to hear the President’s message for myself — first hand.
You see, in a presidential election year I find it very hard to get a “spin-free” message. The major media outlets seem compelled to spin reports of what the President says to suit their political viewpoints. Conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, left-wing, right-wing — they all “spin.” I wanted to hear what the President had to say for myself, without the filter of someone else’s political views.
In a talk that was well over 30 minutes long, President Bush spoke extensively about business, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs. Here are some of his remarks (paraphrased):
- On entrepreneurs and small businesses: Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers and doers. Entrepreneurs and small businesses play a crucial role in the U.S. economy. They create two-thirds of the new jobs in the U.S. Nearly half of all U.S. small businesses are owned by women. And businesses started by women are growing at twice the national rate. You can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy small business sector.
- On creating jobs: The role of government is not to create wealth, but to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes. Government does not create jobs. Businesses create jobs.
- On job losses: Job losses have been caused by productivity increases. Productivity improvements are changing the U.S. economy. Manufacturing output increased six-fold in the past 50 years, yet the number of employees stayed roughly the same. Higher productivity brings challenge. Productivity means companies expand their businesses without adding more employees. It is good for businesses, and it is good for consumers (lower prices, higher wages), but it also means businesses need fewer jobs. And small businesses are leading the way in this productivity revolution.
- On taxes: The majority of small businesses are sole proprietors and Subchapter S corporations. When individual tax rates are lowered, that means tax rates are also lowered on small businesses which are taxed at individual tax rates.
- On trade protectionism: Isolationism is a defeatist mindset. Instead of building barriers to trade, we need to break them down. International trade works two ways. In the U.S. we benefit from the ability to export to other countries, and from foreign companies employing local people. Under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Ohio’s exports to Mexico have tripled to $2 Billion (USD). Over 900 foreign companies employ workers in Ohio. For instance, 10% of Honda’s workforce lives in Ohio, about 16,000 workers. U.S. workers are building BMWs and exporting them to Germany; exporting computer chips to Japan; and exporting California wine to France. There are 6.4 Million Americans who work for foreign companies. A policy of isolationism is a sure way to threaten those U.S. jobs.
- On regulation: America must remain a great place to do business, especially for small businesses. That means less regulation, less taxation of businesses. We must have tort reform, because frivolous lawsuits are not conducive to business.
There was a lot more, and you can read the entire transcript of the President’s remarks here. There is even an accompanying Fact Sheet. Whether you agree or disagree with President Bush’s positions, he is the leader of the world’s largest and fast growing economy in the developed world. As long as he is President, his policies and viewpoints are important. We report, you decide.