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Tom Donohue: Welcoming Small Businesses to Washington

When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held its first small-business summit 10 years ago, we knew that entrepreneurs and small companies all over the country were already making huge contributions to their local economies by creating jobs, driving growth and extending opportunities to others.

But we believed that by coming to Washington, small businesses could not only amplify their voices in the nation’s capital but also return to their communities with new resources and fresh energy to make an even more significant impact. And so the summit was born.

Ten years later, America’s Small Business Summit, the Chamber of Commerce’s signature event, is bigger than ever, drawing more than 700 employers and entrepreneurs from 39 states and the District of Columbia.

This year, participants will hear from nationally recognized leaders, network with peers, and draw inspiration from the achievements of other small businesses through the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award program. They will also have the opportunity to lend their voices to the debate and advocate for the issues that are important to them and their businesses by meeting with their representatives on Capitol Hill. When small businesses speak, our leaders listen.

The voices — and contributions — of America’s small businesses are needed more than ever. Small business is the engine of America’s economy. We’ve got to fire it up and accelerate growth. If small businesses across America are given the freedom, flexibility and certainty to expand and hire, they can be the difference between a so-so recovery and a strong one. They can help drive down unemployment and put more jobs and opportunities within reach of a greater number of Americans.

The Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to help businesses of every size succeed. To that end, we’re all over Washington, across the country and around the world advocating for policies that will allow business to lead the recovery. We’re urging our leaders to seize opportunities in trade, energy and immigration. We’re putting forward solutions on challenges ranging from education and health care to regulatory and legal reform. We’re pushing for principled leadership on fiscal issues and calling for urgently needed reforms to our entitlement system and tax code. And we’re involved in the 2014 elections — because the best way to ensure good policy is to elect good policymakers!

The Chamber of Commerce relies on the support and engagement of America’s small businesses. Because of their impact in their communities and their contributions to our economy, they have real influence in Washington. We look forward to welcoming them to the nation’s capital this week.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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