NAWBO reports women-owned business operators are optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy, but many anticipate that the outcome of the presidential race will have an impact on the state of their businesses. A discussion on women-owned business.
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Traynham: Between 2007 and the year 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses, five times faster than the national average. And while women-owned businesses operators are optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy, many anticipate that the outcome of the presidential race will have a significant or at least a moderate impact on the state of their businesses. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham. Joining me today is Joy Lutes. She's the Vice President of External Affairs at the National Association of Women Business Owners. Joy, welcome to the program.
Lutes: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Traynham: So much to talk about, indeed. I know a couple of weeks ago, you had a summit...
Lutes: We did.
Traynham: ...in Ohio to talk all things small business and women. -Tell us about that. -
Lutes: Yeah, it was fantastic. So, every year we gather just shy of probably about 1,000 women business owners from across the country. This year happened to be Columbus, Ohio, which was very timely, given the swinginess of Ohio in presidential elections. We were lucky enough to have a surrogate from both presidential campaigns speak with us about their issues, their agenda for the future. And it was a nice opportunity for our members to engage on that level, as well, and we really look forward to working with either of them. You know, NAWBO has a 41-year history of being a bipartisan organization. So, we care about the issues that impact our members, not so much the politics. So we're excited to work with whoever is elected president.
Traynham: Picking up on that point, obviously this is a very heated election time. Come January 20th, we all come together on that very one day and become Americans to wish our next president well. Regardless of who it is, what would you like for that president to tackle on day one when it comes to small businesses?
Lutes: Yeah. We?d really love to see either -- whomever becomes the president -- call for a White House summit on small business. A lot of our NAWBO founders were really integrally involved. White House small-business summits used to be a pretty common occurrence in the 1980s and 1990s. And so we?d love to have one. We haven?t had one since, I think, 1996. So we think it's time. Everyone knows anecdotally and statistically the role that small businesses play in driving this economy. And so we?d really love to see whomever?s elected really give small-business owners that opportunity to engage with them directly.
Traynham: You know, and I think for the benefit of viewers that are watching at home or on their smart device, a small business is defined as employers -- or that employees 500 or less, correct?
Lutes: It's a pretty large tent. That's the SBA classification that we use. And so, accordingly, about 3/4 of our members are small-business owners.
Traynham: And what are the top issues? Is it trade? Is it tax reform? Is it minimum wage or all of the above?
Lutes: It's a little bit of everything. Our members are very diverse, and we're very fortunate in that fact. They're pretty equally split among the two parties, and so that definitely plays a role. But I think what we saw in our latest membership survey was that the two issues that they care most about and that will impact their vote is taxes and healthcare costs, as well as just the overall stability and strength of the economy.
Traynham: You know, what's interesting -- you mentioned those two things. That is the crust of businesses overall. It's healthcare and it's taxes because, in many ways, that's the lifeblood of the organization in terms of revenue and expense.
Lutes: Absolutely. And a lot of business owners, especially small-business owners, don't operate with a huge margin for error. And so those costs can really eat up any plans they have for expansion. And that's one of the things that we would love to talk about with the next president.
Traynham: What are you hearing? Or what did you hear in Ohio and around the country? Are you hearing that perhaps maybe things are just too burdensome in terms of the red tape?
Lutes: I think we're getting there. I think people thought a lot of things singularly were good ideas, and now that kind of the collective regulatory burden is bearing down, they're starting to really feel it pushing them into the ground and impeding their ability to grow and expand like they want to. So, I think, again, a lot of these things that they thought were good individually, now that they're seeing the costs hitting them altogether, I think they are starting to feel that burden in a very real way.
Traynham: Joy, we got about 30 seconds left. For the small-business owner that's watching the program or someone that's just a patron of a small business, what is the one key takeaway that they should be thinking about between now and election day?
Lutes: I think just, you know, being educated on the issues -- that's what we push to our members -- and remembering to participate. As you alluded to, this election has been a little vitriolic, a little ugly. We're urging our members to participate anyway. We're big believers in the popular de Tocqueville phrase, "You get the government you deserve." And so we hope people will be engaged no matter who they're voting for.
Traynham: Joy Lutes, thank you very much for joining us. -And keep up the great work. -
Lutes: Thank you.
Traynham: And thank you for joining us for this edition of "Comcast Newsmakers."I'm Robert Traynham. Have a great day, everybody.We'll see you next time.Bye-bye.