Working to find actionable solutions to the nation's key challenges.

While the 21st century economy holds the potential for significant growth, individual achievement, and economic mobility, these outcomes are by no means certain, nor are they guaranteed to be widely shared. Too many Americans—especially in small towns—feel vulnerable in this economy and see few avenues for advancement. A chief concern is how to better support the new and growing small businesses and entrepreneurs that have provided two-thirds of all net new jobs since the Great Recession, and that remain vital to innovation, creating jobs, and a more rapidly expanding economy.

In 2016, Bipartisan Policy Center staff reviewed academic research and conducted interviews with more than 40 stakeholders, academics, and policymakers to evaluate this challenge. In addition, BPC hosted two roundtable discussions: one in Washington, D.C., with members of the National Small Business Administration, and one in Denver with local business and political leaders to hear firsthand the adversities confronting small businesses. Access to credit and capital was repeatedly identified by those interviewed as a key obstacle. Read our report, Confronting the New Economyfor a full description of key themes and findings. 

The Task Force 

BPC’s Task Force on Main Street Finance will explore how to bolster entrepreneurs and small businesses by evaluating the challenges these innovators face in obtaining credit and other financial services and providing recommendations for making the system work for them while maintaining financial stability.

Leadership

The task force co-chairs are: Karen Mills, former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; former Senator Olympia Snowe, who served as chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Paul Greig, former chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Corporation, a leading lender to small businesses in the Midwest; and Mark Walsh, entrepreneur and angel investor with Ruxton Ventures.

Goals

The task force will explore the impact of existing laws and regulations in three primary areas:

1. The ability of banks, non-bank lenders, and capital markets to meet the credit and financing needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

2. The role federal and state governments can play in promoting access to credit and financing for Main Street entrepreneurs.

3. How technology and better, more accessible data can address shortfalls and inequalities in the delivery of financial services.

How do we better support the new and growing small businesses and entrepreneurs that are vital to innovation and an expanding economy? 

Next Steps

With these goals in mind, the task force co-chairs are kicking off a summer listening tour starting with community bankers in Columbus, OH; Laredo, TX; New Orleans, LA; and Lancaster, PA. These meetings will be followed by additional outreach to small business leaders and entrepreneurs throughout America, as well as non-bank lenders, including fintech companies. 

The task force will be engaging in a range of activities, including:

Research and analysis including the development and dissemination of white papers, reports, and infographics that support the task force goals.

Private roundtables with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and lenders to develop policy ideas.

Public events that bring together key stakeholders, issue experts, and media to raise awareness to the financing challenges facing small businesses.

A social media campaign focused on building awareness of the need to bring economic vitality to Main Street America and publicizing task force policy recommendations.

Educational briefings with staff and policymakers on Capitol Hill that bring attention to and generate support for legislative actions that support the growth of America’s small businesses.

Leveraging task force recommendations through BPC initiatives on health care, infrastructure, and higher education to encourage support for an array of policies that have the shared goal of driving small business growth and economic prosperity throughout the country.