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The President of the NFIB, Todd Stottlemyer, gives an overview of the 2008 NFIB Summit.
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Susan Wilson Solovic: Hello everyone and welcome to our ongoing coverage of the this years NFIB conference in Washington DC themed stronger together and joining me here today is Todd Stottlemyer who is of course the President and CEO of NFIB and I appreciate you’re being here with us Todd, thank you.
Todd Stottlemyer: Thanks Susan for having me here.
Susan Wilson Solovic: You got a hectic schedule this week or this next two days anyway.
Todd Stottlemyer: Well it’s an exciting next three days. We have about 800 people from around the country here over the next three days as part of our national small business summit. We are also very please to be part on eBay this year. They are co-presenting partner for the summit.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Now tell me a little bit about that eBay. We think about online, selling, bidding how is that fit in with NFIB?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well we have a lot in common, a lot of commonality if you will in terms of interest. Our members are doing more-more electronic commerce and we have an opportunity two years ago the last small business summit to have Meg come and be our keynote speaker. We spent sometime together after that and we simply, we have a lot in common. We have to do this together. We have to find ways that we can do more together. A lot of similar positions on issues and certainly from a business standpoint with so many of our members trying to do electronic commerce, we though it was a great opportunity to join with the event.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Well that and also a lot of people are making it a full time or part time living actually selling things on eBay today.
Todd Stottlemyer: Absolutely.
Susan Wilson Solovic: So a lot of small businesses out there, now before we get into some of the issues Todd, tell me just a little bit about the NFIB philosophy and your mission.
Todd Stottlemyer: Well our mission really is to promote free enterprise and to help our small business members across the United States. Really promoting, protect their opportunity to own operate and successfully grow their business. And we are their voice. We are the voices of small business, we are the ones that are on the frontline for them and that’s our mission to really promote their opportunity to be an entrepreneur, to start a business and in grow with business.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And how many members do you have now? So now you have a huge list.
Todd Stottlemyer: We do, we do have 50 representations in all 50 states. We have 350,000 governing members and these are full time members that are active in the organization.
Susan Wilson Solovic: So you really are the voice for small business.
Todd Stottlemyer: We are. We are actually the largest business association in the United States to represent America’s job creators. The innovators and risk takers today in this economy.
Susan Wilson Solovic: That’s great. Well and actually I know that you do a lot of surveys of the small businesses that are on you membership list and actually as a journalist I have to say I love that because I’m always courting your surveys and information but why is that important? Why is it important to continually do this kind of research?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well I think we’re unique in terms of being a business association. We really try to go out and listen to what’s on the mind of our small business members in a way we do that is through our surveys and so we do very significant survey work to understand what are the challenges and issues that face the small business owner today, the 0304 gets entrepreneur who started the small business and very importantly we listen to them and we take what we here and then we go be there voice. We advocate for them.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And I know some of your survey information showed this year that healthcare continues to be the number one concern of small businesses. So tell me what’s going on, on the hill now? Do we have any release in site?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well healthcare certainly is very high in terms of issues for small business owners. You overall stated the economies also very high and very much on their minds. We do a monthly small business optimism in that session now and in our index has been at the historic low level for the past two months so to stated the economy a fewer prices, other commodity prices, overall inflation are real concerns today for small business and the women across the country and health care has been a 20 year concerned for a small business members.
How do we make healthcare more affordable for small business members?
Susan Wilson Solovic: Right I know. It’s been ongoing concern and I often say Todd that if we could just put a group of small business owners in the room give them the authority to figure it out. We probably get it all fix.
Todd Stottlemyer: I agree. Well you remember progress. We actually about a month and a half ago in the United States senators by of course, group of senators put forth a proposal that will allow small businesses to pull nationally, and we endorsed this fill. We’re very pleased that Bill Novelli, the President and CEO of AARP was here this morning and AARP is now going to endorse this bill as well which is very important to get this type of garage support and by port and support for national calling for small business men and women.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Let’s talk a little bit about the gas prices because we just see them going up and up and up. What are your small businesses telling you, your members telling you about how that’s impacting their business?
Todd Stottlemyer: It’s tough. This is a real tough time for anybody that has to use gasoline, either day to day business or diesel fuel and its not just directly putting in the tank of a car or truck as you know. Gasoline products are what come out of the barrel of oil impacts lots and lots of things so the price of oil, the price of gasoline, the price of diesel fuel is having a big impact in small business across the country.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Well and even a lot of our audience members tell us that they cutting back on business travel because its so expensive air fares or they’re looking for alternate transportation like the train or even buses now a days. So it’s huge issue. So what is your goal of this year’s event here? What do you hope to accomplish and what are people going to walk away with?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well this is a big year as you know, this is an election year and this is s historical election year because you have to go back really the 1928. The last time we have a presidential election where we did have sitting president or vice president running for the office of president.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Well that’s an interesting that a trivia. I didn’t know that and I was a history major.
Todd Stottlemyer: Well 52 are a little bit an exception but what I wasn’t known. It was the sitting president, vice president but of course it was generalize and how are very well known. But really 1928 is the last time we got our presidential election like this so we talk a lot about policy. We’re going to talk about politics. We’re going to talk about health care. We’re talking about immigration and other important issues to small business for women. Energy policy, we’re going to talk about that as well but what we can do but for the main stand point it help our small business owners help them reduce the men and very importantly policy changes that have to happen so we can have more supply whether its gas or fuel or other alternative types of energy.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And do small businesses recognized the importance of being involved in this type of advocacy so that their voices are heard?
Todd Stottlemyer: We do you know. We did some very significant national calling and we found it 43% of the American voting electric to small business owners and their employees. We also know from the surveys we’ve mentioned earlier, the small business men and women they have 95% of them are registered to votes today in the United States and nine out of ten actually google this. So we have the largest segment of the voting electric, 43% and we vote and you compare that to the some of the other voting groups that get lots of publicity.
Unions, so called soccer mom and NASCAR dads were small compared to the small business-floating block today in America.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And you said something interesting this morning in your remarks that next to the military, small businesses are considered the most trusted group.
Todd Stottlemyer: That’s exactly right. The Gallop Organization did a survey recently and they found they asked all sort of institutions. They asked about religious institutions, they ask about banks, they ask about congress, the presidency, big business, big labor, the military small business of all t hose institutions. Small business is trusted more about the American people than any other institution other than US military and I’m proud to the US military as first
Susan Wilson Solovic: Absolutely.
Todd Stottlemyer: Because this are men and women who were out there in the front lines protecting our freedoms and but to be second, second only to the US military I think really shows just how much the American people trust and likes small business.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Speaking to the military, a lot of our military veterans are starting to go in and enjoying the ranks of small business as well. You seem that new membership?
Todd Stottlemyer: We are and I think is you know particularly when you have a down economic time. Small business where the opportunity to take us to better economic times where people will go out there, we’ll start a new business, take a chance, risk something and actually go forward creating an economic opportunities for other. So to the extent that we have an economic down term and we certainly do small business are the ones were going to get as out as the economic down term.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And Todd you actually your national organization obviously but you have a footprints in every single states, so you’re also helping voices we’ve heard in state legislators and with state government.
Todd Stottlemyer: We were very unique. We’re the only business association giving the largest business association in the country and we have a significant presence here in Washington and we’re now 50 state capitals because we think what happens in the state capitals is just as important is what’s happening in Washington. States are laboratories after all; the experiment would also at the public policy. Sound good, so not so good.
Susan Wilson Solovic: That’s right.
Todd Stottlemyer: So we want to have an active voice in the state capitals as well.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Sure and senator McCain, the same presidential nominee for the republic and party, is going to be here so what do you envisioned him saying to the audience here?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well let me first that we’ve invited both presidential candidates. We invited Senator McCain and we’ve invited Senator Obama, but Senator Clinton was in the raise the time so we invited all three. We are very pleased that Senator McCain is going to be here and Senator Obama; he’s one of the 18th month campaigns and was taking sometime off. It could not be here but we are pleased that Senator McCain is going to be here. And he’s going to talk about the economy. He’s going to talk and believe about the importance of small business and how significant of all small business plays in our economy and in our community and how important small business is going to be to the economic recovery that we need going forward.
Susan Wilson Solovic: We actually did a poll on SBTV and found that our small businesses think that Senator McCain would be the candidate most likely to reign in rising fuel prices so I thought that was interesting.
Todd Stottlemyer: That’s interesting, yeah we’ve not done any type polling on the two candidates but we surely know of rising until 1007 prices in the price are down at the pump and that’s just to own the mines of everybody and went over $4.00 nationally yesterday. I think a variable oils in a $140.00 a barrel so it’s an issue that we’ve got to focus on this our country.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Right, how many years have you been doing this conference Todd?
Todd Stottlemyer: I think we go back to 1998. I’m only been here for two years.
Susan Wilson Solovic: That’s right.
Todd Stottlemyer: So we go back to 1998, I think it was the first conference. This is the largest participation we’ve ever had which given the economic times that we’re in right now. I think it’s a real testament to the interest and resilience to have small business.
Susan Wilson Solovic: And you’re recognizing some small business champions here too from around the country. What some of the criteria to be selected as one of the identified the small business champions?
Todd Stottlemyer Well this is fun because we are too recognized. I mean the number of people that apply if you will to be recognized. I mean they’re just outstanding businesses, outstanding men and women who are entrepreneurs, risk takers, people that put it on the line if you were to go out there and start a business and it’s exciting to see the applications. It’s exciting to see what is an individual have done and I’m very please if we’re going to recognize this individuals for their accomplishment and I’m sure they’re going to continue to do great doing things and a years to come.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Right, well and I would just like to say to any of our viewers on SBTV.com if they’re not a member of the NFIB they certainly should and how do you go about becoming an NFIB member?
Todd Stottlemyer: Well the easiest way if you’re not a members is to go to our website. You can join online and become a member of NFIB and we like to say membership is priceless unlike with the same MasterCard We love to have certain more people join the organization but we will need to stick together small business because together we are stronger and we have some challenges ahead of us. This is a country and if our voice that we can come together as a small business community in this country, people will listen to us. I mean 43% are voting the electric and we come to put together. People have to listen to us.
Susan Wilson Solovic: That’s true and actually its diverse market place but with a lot of common interest and—
Todd Stottlemyer: It is very diverse. I mean men and women different ethnicity, different races obviously gender and so forth, that’s one of the great things about the American small business community and the really is back in the hope certainly the future the country, people that have the opportunity to start something and make something of their lives and create economic opportunities for others.
Susan Wilson Solovic: It’s the American dream.
Todd Stottlemyer: It is the American dream.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Absolutely, actually my friend Michael Gerber who is like an entrepreneur and guru says right now they’re about 72 million people dreaming about becoming entrepreneurs but I don’t know about you Todd but I think it s probably larger than that.
Todd Stottlemyer: Yeah absolutely. It is the great opportunity to makes our country unique and so special.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Absolutely, well Todd thank you so much for joining me today and I know the conference is a huge success so congratulations to you and your team and keep doing the great work that you’re doing for all us.
Todd Stottlemyer: Well thank you very much and Susan we’re glad you’re here. We appreciate working with you and we are very please just to be a part of the summit.
Susan Wilson Solovic: Great, well thank you and thanks to all of you for watching us here on SBTV.com from the NFIB conference in Washington DC. I’m Susan Wilson Solovic and stay tuned for more of great coverage right here on SBTV where small business is our only business.