Roll Call: GOP Members Want Small-Business Owners to Sound Off

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Washington, Sep 15, 2011 | comments

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GOP Members Want Small-Business Owners to Sound Off
By Jessica Estepa, Roll Call

Republican members of the House Small Business Committee are launching an online initiative Friday to invite small-business owners to share their stories and opinions on policies.

The Small Biz Open Mic, which will be hosted on the GOP’s committee website, will allow business owners to send their feedback directly to the committee, whether it’s through a written response or a video testimonial.

“To do our jobs well, we need to hear directly from small companies about how government is hurting or helping their business,” Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said in a statement. “With their help, we can make certain that Washington supports policies that allow small businesses to thrive and pave the way to economic growth, innovation and job creation.”

The plan is to post some of the responses on the website, as well as use them in future hearings and while drafting legislation, said Darrell Jordan, the committee’s communications director for the majority.

The initiative’s launch comes a week after President Barack Obama unveiled his $447 billion jobs plan before a joint session of Congress.

The timing is a coincidence, Jordan said, as committee staffers started planning and designing the forum this summer. They had planned for a launch a few weeks ago, but the forum wasn’t ready. Obama’s speech gave them the impetus to make sure the project was ready to go live this week.

“We realized we absolutely have to launch this soon,” Jordan said.

The idea for the forum came from a goal from Graves.

“He wanted to reach out to the millions and millions and millions of small businesses,” Jordan said. “That sounds really funny, but he was really sincere.”

At first, reaching out meant creating an online presence, including creating an e-newsletter and making a Facebook page, but eventually committee Republicans wanted to do more. More importantly, they wanted to do it in their own way instead of relying on existing websites like Twitter and YouTube. Hence, they created an internal site.

“We can do a lot more if we control the different formats,” Jordan said.

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