Recently in the WIPP Category

Women Impacting Public Policy joined a recent White House Business Council Meeting to share how various policies are affecting women business owners across the country. The meeting included several White House staff along with top officials from the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.


At the meeting, WIPP stressed the importance of capital access as the critical issue for women business owners looking to start and grow their companies, and highlighted WIPP's 2013 Annual Survey finding that it takes an average of two attempts for women business owners to secure funding.


Commerce Undersecretary for Economic Affairs, Mark Doms, agreed that the economy would be best served by giving business owners more access to capital. The Commerce Department's new strategic plan, America is Open for Business, reflects that priority by stressing innovation and investment.  


SBA Associate Administrator for Capital Access Ann Marie Mehlum concurred, saying her office will continue to identify opportunities to expand access while strengthening SBA's already available capital access programs. She went on to highlight the 7(a) loan program, which supported more than $15 billion in small business loans in FY13.


The meeting closed with a discussion of how trade can be used to fuel growth for businesses of all sizes. The Administration agreed there is a need for streamlining and simplification in exporting as well as engaging the women's business community on the value of selling goods and services abroad. Both of those priorities are at the front of WIPP's ExportNOW program that encourages women entrepreneurs to grow beyond our borders.


These meetings are open dialogues with policymakers, giving WIPP's advocacy team the opportunity to share ideas and concerns raised by WIPP's members.

Broadband Plan Anniversary: Some Goals Met but More Work Needed


Yesterday, March 16, marked the fourth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan.  When it was released four years ago, this plan was lauded as the FCC's roadmap to universal broadband access, intended to expand access and bring affordable, high-speed broadband connectivity to Americans in every corner of the country.  This connectivity is essential for us all, and in particular for women and women-owned businesses - without it, full participation in our global economy and modern life is virtually impossible. 


Here at WIPP, we've long advocated for increased access to affordable broadband service because of the critical role Internet-based networks fulfills for women, as well as for our businesses and loved ones.  Access to fast, modern high-speed broadband connectivity means access to professional opportunities, distance learning classes, telework jobs, civic engagement, and even health care.  It delivers growth opportunities to businesses, helping those businesses run more efficiently and competitively in the global marketplace.  Broadband connectivity also delivers much greater possibilities for higher education, job training, and professional networking. 


In the plan, the FCC identified broadband as "the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century," and set important goals designed to meet that challenge, many of which line up with our own tech principles.  In only four years, the private sector and the FCC have already made incredible progress toward meeting those goals, and we applaud those efforts.  Additionally, the upcoming spectrum incentive auction is a chance to make underused spectrum available to wireless carriers, thereby easing the strain on mobile networks while also funding FirstNet (a nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders) with auction proceeds. 


The National Broadband Plan also recognized the vital role that private investment plays in the work to expand access and enhance broadband service.  The plan explained that the old-fashioned "Plain Old Telephone System" network infrastructure was incapable of meeting future needs, and that maintaining that obsolete network required carriers to spend money on lines that hardly anyone relied on anymore.  Meanwhile, consumer demand and continued tech innovation have driven private investment into modern, lightning-fast broadband network infrastructure.  Investment in our country's broadband infrastructure has been substantial: Estimates report that this investment totaled $1.2 trillion between 1996 and 2011. And last year, a White House report said since 2009, private sector investment into these networks came in at over $250 billion. In fact, the top two wireless carriers last year led all companies in all sectors in investing in our nation's future.  


Four years ago, the FCC presented a path that leads to expanded access, and those efforts are starting to pay off.  But achieving truly universal access to broadband will not be possible without significant additional private investment.  In order to achieve that goal, smart telecom regulations must be put in place; companies must have regulatory certainty.  Rules that both encourage investment into next-generation networks and that accelerate the movement forward to an all-broadband future will enable continued innovation, economic growth, and universal access for all Americans.  We encourage the FCC to study and learn the realities of today's marketplace, and ensure that any policies and regulations in the future accurately reflect today's dynamic and competitive ecosystem.


Without the research and data uncovered by the Center for Women's Business Research (CWBR)  formally the National Foundation of Women's Business Research, the women's business owner community would not have achieved the economic and policy gains it has achieved.  Patti Greene, Babson professor, former Chair of CWBR, and a member of the WIPP Advisory Board reports they are going global and moving to Babson College's Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL).     We are so pleased to see the transition to Babson and the plans for researchers to work with both the Diana Project, which focuses on the difficulty women-owned business face raising equity funding, and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which publishes an annual report on women entrepreneurs worldwide. Those two research efforts are also housed at Babson and undoubtedly the collaboration will produce robust research and the data needed to drive new policy initiatives.

Even in the face of unnecessary headwinds created by things like a government shutdown or the still-present threat of a debt-limit default in February (despite the respite offered by the budget compromise), the economic recovery witnessed in recent years is real and encouraging. And near the center of this recovery has been the emergence of a natural gas boom the likes of which few could have predicted, but the breadth of this impact could be greater with policies in place like those that enable American producers to access global markets.

As business owners, one area that should be addressed concerns the need to move liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects forward in a timely manner. The United States has a great economic incentive to pursue increasing LNG experts, and the ability to do so. 

A recent economy in every market scenario examined. In fact, multiple studies show that increasing the exports would work wonders for our domestic economic outlook, and that our reserves can easily meet the elevated demand resulting from access to global markets. 

The economic benefits resulting from increasing LNG exports would be felt far beyond the energy sector. According to a recent ICF International study, the United States could add up to 452, 300 jobs between 2016 and 2035 by increasing LNG production, with total annual GDP growth expanding from $15.6 to $73.6 billion annually between 2016 and 2035.

We would like more clarity on why the DOE is delaying LNG exports. It's certainly not because of a lack of means or capacity to produce. 

The United States ranks #1 in the world in recoverable shale gas reserves. We have ample resources to meet domestic needs and export LNG for decades to come, and we have the political will - from Oregon to Texas to Maryland - to do just that.

Unfortunately, nearly all of these projects - and the permits that they require prior to starting to export - have been sitting in the queue, waiting for approval from the Department of Energy. Applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries have also been in queue before the DOE for months - and in many cases, even years, with no evident timetable for their approval or even their review. What's more, even among those few permits that have been approved, actual construction and competition is no guarantee thanks to the myriad hurdles that export terminals must clear, including, but not limited to environmental review, FERC permits, state siting, potential lawsuits, and financing. LNG export facilities take several years to finance, approve, and finally construct.

While we can all agree that a thorough review process is vital to any infrastructure project, it is clear to us that the delays currently being witnessed relative to the LNG exports are plainly contrary to our national economic interest. And as this delay continues, we run the very real risk of watching the window of opportunity close when it comes to LNG exports.

Market conditions in the United States and globally currently favor America's entrance into the export market. Domestic prices are low, while international prices are high. But this is not a permanent dynamic. Prices can shift. And more over, the United States is not the only nation that hope to export LNG. In fact, as recently as last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Canada to discuss Japan's significant need for imported natural gas. Canada would be more than happy to fill that need - particularly if they face no competition from American companies. 

Export is an important initiative for WIPP, and certainly for its members who are in the energy sector. They feel that it is essential that the DOE acts quickly to spur action on the pending applications. We need to urge the DOE to approve all pending applications for LNG export and let the market determine viability.

The U.S. has a rare opportunity to impact the global energy landscape while narrowing our trade deficit and adding domestic jobs and growth. Let's see if we can cut through the red tape that is holding up needed investment. 

by Barbara Kasoff, President, WIPP

WIPP Weighs in On Tax Reform Dialogue

11:12 AM July 23, 2013

By: Mitchell Schermer

In an attempt to understand how the small business community feels about tax reform, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship chaired by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) held a round table entitled "Small Business Tax Reform: Making the Tax Code Work for Entrepreneurs and Startups. " WIPP's Chief Advocate, Ann Sullivan was invited by the Committee to participate to ensure that the voice of women-owned business was a part of this incredibly important discussion. In her remarks, she said that a majority of WIPP members would rather have a lower tax rate than any of the 20+ deductions and credits that currently exist in the tax law. She discussed the importance of a tax code that if rewritten, is simple and fair. A simple and fair tax code will not only ensure that America's small businesses can easily comply with federal law, but would ideally ensure that businesses are treated the same regardless of their business designation. Ann contended, "Business is business." Set the tax rate, no matter if the business is a Fortune 500 or a microbusiness - they should all pay the same rate. 

It's no secret that our tax code is in serious need of some good reform. The complicated maze that is our tax structure has become incredibly burdensome, because there's just too much going on - too many credits, deductions, forms, and business designations. For the owners of America's small businesses in particular, the tax code presents a different type of challenge, the cost of staying in compliance. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, small businesses spend about 67% more in tax compliance than their larger counterparts, and for small businesses with 1-5 employees; the cost of compliance is about $1,000 per employee. More importantly, they pay a higher effective tax rate than larger businesses do.

Tax reform, both corporate and individual, is long overdue. Because "pass through" entities comprise the majority of small businesses, both codes must be overhauled. Simply lowering the corporate rate only affects 15% of all small businesses. Leaders in the United States Senate have taken some good first steps to achieving this ambitious task. Wednesday's hearing comes on the heels of a plan released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) calling for a complete overhaul of the tax code, essentially wiping out all credits and deductions to a tabula rasa, and giving all Senators the opportunity to make recommendations for which credits and deductions to put back in place. Wednesday's hearing was a good first step toward soliciting feedback from the small business community on how best to address the issue of tax reform. Senator Landrieu plans to send recommendations from the round table panelists to the Finance Committee.

Can Senators restrain their natural inclination to please constituents by reinstating a tax break here and a tax break there? It remains to be seen. As the American business climate shifts from the paradigm of large corporations to a resurgence of small businesses, and a "Do It Yourself" economy, our tax code must adapt to ensure that our American system is as business friendly as it can be. For our small businesses to truly begin to thrive, our nation's brave entrepreneurs need to have confidence and certainty in the tax system, and that's precisely why conversations like the one had on Wednesday are so critical to our future.

To View a webcast of the Senate Small Business Committee Hearing, please click here.





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