Summit Information

Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer opening the 2016 Leadership Summit.

We often hear from small business owners that they feel like their voices are not heard on key issues that impact their small businesses. That’s why we brought 150 small business owners to D.C. for our second annual Small Business Leadership Summit. With its theme, “Recognizing the Power of the Small Business Economy,” this year’s Summit discussed how the small business case is too often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, at the public policy table and at the ballot box. Small business leaders from all over the country rose to the challenge and made their voices heard over four days of education, collaboration and action.

After a Sunday night networking happy hour, the first full day of the Summit on May 9th started with a panel featuring top small business journalists on how small businesses could share their stories with media. Other panels focused on lobbying skills for small businesses, minority entrepreneurship, asset building, healthcare and the impact of prescription drug prices and the freelance economy.

Following a full day of small business conversation and collaboration, small business owners headed to Google’s D.C. offices to kick back, mingle and celebrate Small Business Majority’s 10th anniversary.

Rhett Buttle, President of Small Business Majority, provides remarks during the Leadership Summit.

Tuesday began with an address from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (Ore.), who spoke about the value of crowdfunding and access to capital for small business. Next, small business owners attended a panel with legal experts on consequences of the Supreme Court vacancy for small businesses. Other panels that day included a discussion on the importance of public lands to small businesses, women’s entrepreneurship and an overview of new alternative and online lending technologies. Small business owners also heard from Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Jessica Milano, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


Summit attendees discussed issues important to small employers during interactive panels and sessions.

To close out the day, small business owners heard from Dr. Sam Clovis, National Co-Chair and Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald Trump campaign and Ann O’Leary, Senior Policy Advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign about the election and the candidates’ positions on small business issues.

On the final day of the Summit, small business owners traveled to the White House to hear from senior members of the Obama Administration including Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

Select small business leaders also received awards during the Summit. U.S. Senator Jon Tester  (Mont.) presented Courtney McKee of Headframe Spirits in Butte, Mont. with Small Business Majority’s Community Development Award, and Small Business Majority Board Chair Celia Canfield presented Praveen Madan of Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, Calif. with our Technological Innovation Award. And Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (Ohio) made an appearance to present Small Business Majority’s Rising Entrepreneur Award to recent college graduate Dominiq Dudley of READY Publication in Columbus, Ohio.

Since the Summit, our small business leaders have been reflecting on their experiences and all they learned in traditional media, social media and through company newsletters.

Ted Milner, owner of Executive Temps in Burbank, Calif. said,

“I am constantly amazed with the content and resources that are available for us here at the Leadership Summit. Being able to come together with a diverse group of business owners to share ideas and take those ideas back to our communities and share is priceless.”

Many attendees took their voices and experiences to social media and created a storm of social media conversation using the hashtag #SmallBizLeaders, which received a whopping 3.5 million audience impressions on Twitter.

For more info on the Summit, check out our blogpost and our Storify outlining social media during the Summit.