An unexpected winter storm didn’t stop the NADCO 2014 Government Relations Conference from turning up the heat in Washington, DC on behalf of the REAL 504 and the CDC Community!
Monday, March 3
A busy open board meeting at 1:00 pm kicked off the conference with the industry’s favorite Small Business Administration (SBA) participants, who braved the snow to hear about the economic development focus of NADCO members. Presentations by Sally Robertson, Randy Griffin, and Mike Owen brought the REAL 504 vision to life, as they discussed how the program is “making a difference one job, one small business, one community at a time” in their home communities.
A DCF LLC update by Frank Keane and a President’s report brought attendees up-to-date on the industry climate and initiatives.
A reception at Baby Wale followed. NADCO welcomed brave friends from Florida Business Development Corporation, who due to inclement weather couldn’t fly into Washington. Instead they flew to Charlotte, NC and drove in the snow to the conference. Thank you for your dedication, Bill and Hoyt – we’re we glad you were able to make it! Giovanna Piovanetti left tropical Puerto Rico in the sun, but was diverted by the storm to Philadelphia before boarding an Amtrak train to use snow-covered rails for the last two hours of the journey.
Friends from across the country reunited at the Board of Directors and NextGen reception including Congressional staffers as they prepared for Wednesday meetings with Congressional leaders.
Top: Frank Keane asks Mark Zandi a question after Zandi's discussion of small business lending and its affect on the economy | Bottom: Senator Ron Wyden thanks small business lenders for the work their contribution to the economy
The NADCO Board of Directors and Lender Advisory Council dinner included special guest Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, who gave opening remarks noting continued uncertainty in the economy – but that “small businesses are the key to economic growth.” Noting that fewer small businesses are opening, he recommended that the CDC Community produce research the REAL 504’s impact on the national economy in order to report that impact to Congressional leadership. In fact, a NADCO study is underway. Zandi was optimistic about the immediate future of the REAL 504 industry, saying, “A year from now if you invite me back, you’ll feel a lot better.”
Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of Senate Finance Committee, greeted the group with a few remarks of support and appreciation for what CDCs do.
Tuesday, March 4
A packed Tuesday kicked off with a Congressional Briefing and tips on “how to lobby,” given by seasoned lobbyists and communications specialists Claire O’Rourke, NADCO’s Director of Government Relations & Grassroots Campaigns, Brett Palmer, President & CEO of the Small Business Investor Alliance, and Lauren Crawford, Partner, Hamilton Place Strategies.
Patrick Kelley, Deputy Associate Administrator at the SBA was recognized with a NADCO Public Service Award for his dedication to the small business lending.
Above: Patrick Kelley accepts his NADCO Public Service Award and gives a brief speech about the REAL 504 program.
As all the planned events of the day continued, NADCO members received good news from the President’s Budget, which was released at 11:30 that morning. Due to improved portfolio performance, the REAL 504’s subsidy need for FY15 is $45 million, a drop of over 50 percent from last year’s subsidy. Additionally, SBA requested that debt refi be part of the budget. The announcement of all this during the media lunch panel led to an enthusiastic round of applause from conference participants. This draft budget is the jumping off point for the Congressional budget and appropriations, so the REAL 504 program is well-positioned to advance our cause.
The night ended with a PAC reception with Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), the likely future chairman of the House Small Business Committee, a supporter of deb refinance. The charismatic congressman spoke to nearly everyone in the crowded room of CDC leaders.
Representative Chabot (above) giving a brief speech at the PAC reception.
Wednesday, March 5
The morning of the highly anticipated Small Business Lending and Investment Summit began with a PAC breakfast for Senator James Risch (R-ID). Risch is a key leader of the effort to reinstate debt refi, which has helped champion our cause through his role as Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee.
This breakfast set the tone for a day on Capitol Hill, in which those who participated in the NADCO GR Conference met with congressional Representatives to discuss the REAL 504 program. The Consumer Bankers Association, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, the National Association of Manufacturers, Small Business Investor Alliance, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Coleman, National Small Business Association, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Boefly cosponsored the Small Business Lending & Investment Summit.
Above: Ann Marie Mehlum (left) speaks with Sally Robertson (right)
Speakers included Ann Marie Mehlum, Association Administrator at the SBA, REAL 504 recipient and DC mayoral candidate Andy Shallal, Sally Robertson, President of Business Finance Group and Chair of NADCO, as well as journalists from The Washington Post and Bloomberg.
The evening ended with a reception, attended by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Risch.
Overall the 2014 Government Relations Conference was a huge success. Thank you to all of our sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and attendees who made it possible. A special thank you to Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse and Bank of America for their sponsorships and support and attendance. Together we made an impact on the Hill, which will hopefully yield favorable opinion from Congressional leaders and ultimately permanent debt refinancing legislation, as well as a bright future for the important work CDCs do!