Small Business Leaders Converge in D.C. for Tech Summit

Such an honor to speak at the Annual Meeting of the National Small Business Association in Washington, DC on Tuesday (see last paragraph of article).
NSBA  partnered with the Small Business Roundtable on Tuesday to hold the 2019 Small Business Tech Summit in Washington, D.C. where small-business leaders from across the country discussed the major challenges they face when it comes to technology.

The event was held at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center and kicked-off by Microsoft’s Director of External Affairs, David Pryor, Jr. Attendees heard from a wide range of thought leaders including long-time small-business champion Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). The discussions focused on a wide array of small-business tech issues including: how technology is helping small businesses grow and innovate; cybersecurity threats targeting small business; the challenges of building out the 5G network and how small businesses can be negatively impacted; a major defect in computer chips that is causing delays and increased IT costs; how banking systems don’t necessarily protect small business accounts; and how small-business owners should start protecting themselves.

“The tech summit raised awareness about cybersecurity threats, infrastructure challenges and data security, and provided some real-world solutions to those issues,” stated NSBA President Todd McCracken. “Not only did our expert speakers provide great insight to the small-business owners in the room, the small-business input to those thought leaders opened new avenues and perspectives to consider the small-business impact of our ever-changing online world.”

Among the experts and small-business owners who spoke to the group:

  • Ryan Risley, Partner and Chief Technology Officer, Wipfli LLP
  • Sharon Toerek, Toerek Law LLC (Cleveland, OH)
  • Krystn Keller, Keller Works (Mobile, AL)
  • ML Mackey, Beacon Interactive Systems (Waltham, MA)
  • David T. Shafer, Attorney, Pilieromazza PLLC
  • Antwanye Ford, President & CEO, Enlightened
  • Bruce Parkman, CEO, Bluelight LLC
  • Frank Valdivieso, Gryphon Consulting
  • Calvin Mills, CMC Technology Solutions/SLT Technology (Baton Rouge, LA)
  • Sheila Duffy-Lehrman, Tropical Survival Advertising and Marketing (North Miami, FL)
  • Pedro Alfonso, Dynamic Concepts (Washington, DC)
  • Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist, Progressive Policy Institute
  • David Young, VP Public Policy, Verizon
  • Antonio Williams, VP of External Affairs, Comcast
  • Christopher Etesse, CEO, Cyberholdings 2020
In addition to the expert speakers, McCracken was joined by Rhett Buttle, Co-Executive Director of the Small Business Roundtable in leading and moderating several panels during the summit. Additionally, Ron Busby of the U.S. Black Chambers and Karen Kerrigan of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council—both members of the Small Business Roundtable—joined the summit as moderators.

“The Small Business Technology Summit allowed for a rich dialogue between tech industry leaders, policy makers, and the small business owners in attendance that informed all sides of some of the most pressing small business issues,” said Rhett Buttle, Co-Executive Director of the Small Business Roundtable. “Our organization was created to secure access for small business owners to convey priorities to leaders and this summit was a great success in doing just that.”

Earlier in the day, NSBA leadership gathered for its quarterly Board of Trustees meeting and then convened its Annual Member Meeting & Luncheon where the 2019 Chair Sharon Toerek passed the gavel to incoming 2020 Chair Mark Amato of Providence, R.I. The NSBA Leadership Council then met and discussed regional engagement strategies led by Ken Rivenbark of Huntsville, Ala. who outlined his efforts to engage lawmakers and develop valuable relationships to further small-business priorities. The lively discussion provided attendees a platform to exchange ideas for relationship building and developing meaningful small-business advocates in state legislatures and Congress.