President Barack Obama participated yesterday in Winning the Future Forum for Small Business, a program at Cleveland State University that brought small business owners together for discussions on what is and isn't moving U.S. business forward.
In an opening speech, Obama said he targeted small businesses because they drive economic growth and create two-thirds of all new jobs. "And when our small businesses do well, then America does well," Obama said.
Manufacturing was a key topic in the Rust Belt locale. Obama noted that Cleveland, which was established on manufacturing, represents many Midwestern locales that were once manufacturing strongholds. The President called the reinvention of Cleveland and the region "the Tech Belt" for Cleveland's fiber optic networks, universities, hospitals, entrepreneurs, and innovations.
Despite job losses and consolidations, Obama emphasized that America is still one of the leading manufacturers in the world. But it must innovate to revitalize the industry. "It's not good enough just to rely on the old industries," Obama said. "We've also got to invent new ones, and that's what you're doing here."
The participating small business owners had many recommendations. In a closing speech, the President noted tax credits for angel investors, creating networking opportunities in industry fields and clusters, and bringing together businesses with universities and community colleges to create job training and opportunities as key areas for improvement.
The administration has already passed 17 tax cuts for small businesses, and Obama has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate and unnecessary regulations to encourage job creation from larger businesses.