2017 Small Business Policy Forum Panel Descriptions

Ensuring Tax Reform Promotes Small Business Success

For too long, our nation’s tax system has benefited the wealthiest Americans and large multinational corporations—leaving the rest of the country, particularly small business owners, to foot the bill. Small Business Majority’s polling has shown that 90% of small business owners believe big corporations are using loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay, and 92% believe corporations’ use of those loopholes is a problem.

Moreover, in making decisions policymakers need to better understand how small business owners pass through business income and how many entrepreneurs are affected by changes in the way pass-through income is taxed.

We need a tax system that benefits America’s entrepreneurs who are focused on growing their enterprises and making payroll at the end of each month. To do that, we must take steps to ensure fairness, simplify the tax code and create opportunities for small businesses and encourage startups and entrepreneurs.

This panel discussed policies that must be included in tax reform efforts to level the playing field and promote small business growth. 


Founder & CEO
Small Business Majority
Owner of Zimmerman & Co CPAs Inc.
Mark Mazur
Robert C. Pozen Director
Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Ryan Abraham
Senior Tax Counsel, Business & International
U.S. Senate Finance Committee
Donald Marron
Institute Fellow & Director, Economic Policy Initiatives
Urban Institute

Access to Capital: The Key to Small Business Growth and Economic Development

There’s no question that access to capital is one of the most significant challenges for small business owners. Faced with an uneven lending market that often favors big businesses and a decline in small business lending from traditional lenders, small business owners have long turned to nontraditional sources—like personal credit—to find financing that meets their businesses’ needs. Now, the advent of online funding and other new lending sources is transforming the landscape for small business financing.

This development holds the potential to get needed capital to entrepreneurs and to communities that have long been underserved; however, it also opens the door for bad actors looking to take advantage of entrepreneurs. Not all online lenders are equal and some mask very high rates. In the absence of oversight of this new lending space, efforts like the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights are seeking to provide guidance and promote transparency among alternative lenders. This is why it’s especially important to also expand sources of reliable and traditional lending, like the SBA’s 7a loan program.  

This panel centered around conversation on policies to expand traditional lending options, the growing realm of alternative online lending and policies and efforts being made to increase transparency and responsibility in the industry.


Jessica Milano
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy
U.S. Department of the Treasury
David Newville
Director of Federal Policy
Prosperity Now
Joyce Klein
Director of Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination (FIELD)
Aspen Institute
Manny Hidalgo
Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Capital Access
Lauren Stebbins
Vice President
Small Business Initiatives for Opportunity Finance Network

Interactive Roundtables: Policies to Boost Women’s Entrepreneurship

For decades, women seemed not just to be breaking, but to be wholesale smashing, the glass ceiling on small business ownership and entrepreneurship. In 1987, a mere 10% of U.S. small businesses were women-owned; in 2007, that number had soared to 30%. In fact, nearly 10 million women are small business owners and women-owned businesses contribute $1.6 trillion to the national economy.

Despite this undeniable progress, women business owners continue to lag their male counterparts in the crucial business indicators of revenue, number of employees and funding. Furthermore, women even seem to lose ground once they surmount the barriers to entrepreneurship. Women-owned businesses account for only 11% of sales and 13% of employment among privately-held companies, and average sales receipts are only 25% of male-owned businesses. Many other factors affect working women in general, most notably the lack of readily available, quality childcare, family medical leave benefits, paid sick days and retirement benefits and more.

This interactive session, which included sub-group breakouts to discuss individual topics, covered the type of policies that should be instated to give women the help they need to start breaking through barriers to their success and prosperity. 

Breakout leads:

Founder and President
Business Management Associates, Inc
Helen Blank
Director, Child Care and Early Learning
National Women’s Law Center
Antonella Pianalto
President and CEO
Association of Women's Business Centers
Jane Campbell
Director of the Washington, D.C. office | President
National Development Council (NDC) | Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
Alison Feighan
The Feighan Team

Preserving Healthcare Benefits for Small Businesses

Over the past four years, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided healthcare to 24 million individuals who otherwise couldn’t access coverage, many of whom work for small employers or are themselves entrepreneurs. The ACA has also been crucial to stabilizing rates in the small-group market, with small-group rate increases being cut in half since the law’s implementation, as well as helping would-be entrepreneurs have the security they need to pursue their dreams.

Despite these gains, Congress has persisted in numerous attempts this year to repeal or replace the ACA, often behind closed doors. Now that current repeal efforts seem at a standstill, it’s time for lawmakers to get to work on bipartisan improvements to the ACA that will strengthen the health insurance marketplaces and support the needs of small business owners.

This panel provided the opportunity to engage with small business owners, policy experts and legislative staff in an interactive dialogue about proactive improvements to our healthcare system that will bolster small businesses. 


David Chase
Vice President, National Outreach
Small Business Majority
J.D. Grom
Executive Director
New Democrat Coalition
Adam Rochon
Sequoia Employee Benefits & Insurance Solutions
Kevin Lucia
Research Professor and Project Director
Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR) at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute
Mila Kofman
Executive Director
DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority

Portable Benefits: Creating an Infrastructure for Entrepreneurs to Thrive

Entrepreneurs are the forefront of a changing employment landscape where online retailers, freelancers and contractors are the new version of the 9-to-5 office worker. Despite the fact that independent workers now represent one in three working Americans, the U.S. has not updated policies to address the needs of this new workforce.

Meanwhile, our nation’s smallest businesses continue to struggle to access or provide benefits like healthcare, retirement plans or family medical leave, putting them on an unequal playing field with their larger counterparts in attracting and retaining talented employees.

To address the needs of our evolving workforce and small business community, some states are implementing programs to provide a way for private sector employees and the self-employed to save for retirement or access family medical leave. Many more states are considering legislation to establish these types of programs, which would make it easier for entrepreneurs to access these resources and allow small business employees to carry benefits from job to job.

This panel consisted of discussing policies and legislation that look to remedy the barriers facing freelancers and small employers and how portable benefit programs can support freelancers and small business employees.  


Mark Herbert
California Director
Small Business Majority
Director of Retirement Savings
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Shilpa Phadke
Senior Director of the Women’s Initiative
Center for American Progress
Vernita Naylor
Jabez Enterprise Group