Government consolidation: First consumers, now small business

President Obama To Ask Congress For Authority To Merge Several Gov't Agencies Into One Smaller

There is a lot happening in Washington DC besides political campaigns – a reshaping of sorts that includes a makeover of old government agencies and policies that have been deemed either irrelevant or ineffective. In most recent news, the new consumer financial protection bureau (CFPB) was created, taking on the enforcement of many of the consumer protection laws that for decades have been managed by various agencies. This consolidation takes some of the most comprehensive, impactful laws that consumers are exposed to and puts them under one roof. Laws that regulate consumer lending practices for credit cards, mortgages, and banking are undergoing massive review for ways to simplify the rules for consumers. This consolidation is a huge step for consumer finance and attempts to modernize through a new-age agency with enforcement, education and protections for consumers.

Other big news this week includes the consolidation of a vast number of business-centric agencies into the new BusinessUSA initiative, recently announced by The White House. The BusinessUSA initiative’s mission is to ‘make it easier to do business in America’. Sounds simple. The President announced a plan that will fully overhaul six government agencies into a new efficient department to promote American small business. Is this just political posturing in an important re-election year? Yes, there is a bit of that, however, when you look underneath the proposal, it does have merit and proposes some essential changes that will help small business navigate the vicious web of government bureaucracy and has ambitions to make the government more effective and focused on helping small businesses in this country succeed. This is a long overdue step. One that major corporations undergo cyclically as they try to maximize profits, increase efficiency, improve quality and simplify the experience for their customers. Running the government more like a real business seems like a positive step – regardless of the politics involved in the move.

Who cares about all of these changes?

There is this amazing stat that floats around, based on the small business census data that is collected: ‘small businesses with less than 100 employees represent 99% of all employers’. This statistic is staggering and sheds light on the fact that the effectiveness of small businesses and their success are a huge factor for jobs in this country.

The Washington DC region is one of the best places for small businesses to get their start and grow, according to a CNN Money study. The region has hundreds of small government contracting businesses, independent consulting firms and other successful entrepreneurs because of its proximity to the Government, military installations and others that need access and support services to run. In addition, key industries in DC thrive as a result of a relatively strong economy, such as housing, financial services, technology, and service industries. Washington DC employs a large number of people thru its large non-profit network, which thrives on memberships and connections to government agencies, Congress and local industry interests. It’s these facts about the region that make it critically important that DC metro residents pay close attention to the proposed changes for the BusinessUSA initiative. It will promise change in doing business, and those changes could have a direct impact on the small businesses that dominate the local market and job outlook in the region. This proposal is incredibly complex, and it is likely to take many years and some money to see the President’s ambitious initiative take off – so be patient and stay tuned.

Watch for my next story where a small business owner will be profiled and interviewed for more direct perspective on the pros and cons of the BusinessUSA initiative.

Sources: whitehouse.gov; CNN Money; US Census Bureau

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