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Another Voice

In the past several years, small businesses have gained power and influence in the corporate world. As they gain momentum, issues arise that affect them. This year, the White House Conference on Small Business will be addressing concerns of the small business community.

More than 50 representatives from Northern California will be elected at the conference to serve on its small business delegation. I am one of those candidates running for the delegation in order to serve as a voice for the small business community in the Bay Area.

As a small business owner, I know what it takes to run a successful business. I also know the hurdles that small-business owners must encounter in order to get a business up and running. As a result of my experiences, I have taken a particular stance on the following issues. If elected, I intend to make certain recommendations to the Clinton administration and to Congress that will benefit small business.

Procurement
In California, the governor's office is lobbying to abolish a law that provides Women Owned Business Enterprises (WBE), Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DVBE), and Minority Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) preference in government contracts.

Major corporations use small business WBE/ DVBE/MBE status for certifications, and they make "good faith" efforts to meet the procurement requirements of the state of California. This is not only a statewide issue, but a national one. If this law is overturned in California, there are other states that will jump on the bandwagon to abolish it.

I recommend we keep the law from being banned, but we remove the "good faith" clause. Instead, prime contractors should have to use either a WBE/DVBE/MBE as a subcontractor. This will result in an increase in revenues to small businesses and will also make the large corporations responsible for partnering with small businesses in an effort to help them grow.

Capital formation
It can be difficult to get a credit line or other forms of capital. This process can become even more tedious if you're a woman.

When starting out, many small business owners rely on personal savings, family loans or personal credit cards for start-up capital They're charged outrageous interest rates. Often, when a small-business owner does approach a financial institution for assistance, they are ensured a certain credit line that doesn't come through. When I was establishing my consulting firm, I was guaranteed a certain amount, but when the paperwork was completed, the amount was $10,000 less than I was promised.

Capital formation is an area that needs to be completely restructured. Banking regulations need to be adjusted so that the are encouraged to lend to small businesses. Currently, the requirements are so stringent that only a few meet the criteria for a loan. My solution to this problem is simple-provide low cost funding for small businesses.

Technology
I have been in the technology field for the past 14 years, so I am particularly interested in the information revolution. Working mostly in the Silicon Valley, I am very much exposed to the revolution of the future - the information superhighway.

Although it has been brilliantly developed, technically there are flaws in the system. Many individuals and small businesses are ignorant of this new technology. Without proper knowledge and training, it could cause a gap in our society. There will be those that use the information superhighway to make life easier and those that do not. We must educate our youth to embrace high technology as everyday practice.

My recommendation is to amend the current intellectual property laws so that the information superhighway is accessible to students through libraries, universities and elementary, junior and high schools.

International trade
American companies both large and small are beginning to think globally. Many small businesses are beginning to make their mark in the area of international trade. However, as they begin to expand into foreign markets, they are met with competition from big corporations.

Small businesses have the ability to react to the demands of overseas trade. Unfortunately, many small businesses are not equipped with the financial resources to do so.

Since American companies are expanding globally and thriving on international trade, there needs to be more opportunity and easier access to other countries, especially for small businesses. Difficulties with exchange rates, economic viabilities, political injustices, cultural differences, and agreements such as NAFTA and GATT can cause problems.

Congress needs to financially assist small businesses in expanding abroad. Many small businesses cannot afford to explore foreign growth markets. There will be a breakthrough in international trade for small businesses when the government helps international small-business negotiating and deal-making.

There are many other issues of concern to me that I will address at the White House Conference on Small Business, such as community development, environmental policy, human capital, and regulation and taxation. As a delegate, I will make a difference on all these issues to assist the small business community in competition with the big corporations.

I welcome employees and small-business owners to attend the conference in Burlingame and to vote for representatives for the Northern California delegation.

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