Small Business Issues Take Center Stage at Treasury

It's small business week on Wall Street and in Washington.

In wake of yesterday's announcement by Goldman Sachs that the megafirm would devote $500 million of its bonus pool to small business development, the Obama administration is launching a new initiative today.

Matt Jaffe has the details:

With the nation's unemployment rate at a 26-year high , the Treasury Department Wednesday will host a forum on how to help small businesses survive the economic downturn.

"Our economy is growing but jobs are not," an administration official told ABC News. "Unemployment remains a substantial challenge that requires sustained action, and any focus on jobs requires a focus on small business."

The administration is currently winding down some of the economic rescue efforts implemented last year, but the official noted, "We know that for small businesses, the recession remains alive and acute. That is why we need to look at every possible step we can take to ramp up support for them."

The forum, said the official, will give Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills the chance to seek out the best ideas and strategies to take to the White House on how to increase access to financing for small businesses. It is also a chance to re-energize regulators, Congressional leaders, small business owners and lenders around the issue, the official stated.

The forum, which President Obama called for last month, comes just weeks before the White House's December 3 forum on jobs growth and economic improvements . The president wants the administration to conduct as much outreach as possible on job creation before the budget process concludes later this year, the official said. Along with Geithner and Mills, Wednesday's Treasury forum will also feature FDIC chief Sheila Bair and the chairs of the House and Senate committees handling issues involving small businesses. Following opening remarks by Geithner and Mills and the other featured panelists, a handful of small business owners will also speak. This panel includes Charles Baker of MCB Lighting Solutions in Owings Mill, MD; Andy Cabral, who runs 10 Dunkin Donuts in the DC area; Kevin Galvin of Connecticut Commercial Maintenance in West Hartford, CT; Lani Hay of Lanmark Technologies in Fairfax, VA; William Ortiz-Cartagena of Gentle Parking in San Francisco; Mike Tie of Paramount Building Solutions in Tempe, AZ; and Susan Walvius of SHEEX in Chapin, SC.

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