This week I was invited to join President Joe Biden’s Cabinet Member for Small Business, U.S. SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman, U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adayamo, Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States and NEC Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti from the Biden Administration, and U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, for an intimate roundtable discussion on small business and economic policy at the White House.
The discussion was rich and robust and engaging, with Administration officials both offering their view(s) on important policy considerations, current realities, and future plans, and also listening.
There were approximately six outside guests to the discussion, as outside expert advisors in their respective areas of leadership, including myself representing Operation HOPE, and all voices were heard.
I of course cannot say specifically what was discussed in the meeting (that is up to the Administration to publish a read out on, etc), but what I can say is that 1) the Administration has made major strides in advancing access to capital to and for small business, including through CDFIs, 2) there is now an infrastructure, focus and formal process to advance this agenda for small business within the Administration, 3) they are open to listening and supportive of sound ideas, and 4) good things are planned and I believe, pending.
Of course, our shared history is all around us at the White House and connected Old Executive Office Building on the White House Campus. And one of the rooms we had the honor to ‘hold’ in, leading up to the meeting, was the conference room where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (and my mentor Rev. Andrew J. Young) met with President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Humphrey, where they mapped out plans for the 1965 Voting Rights Act legislation.
John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation HOPE