MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Cities and states that implement small-business friendly policies will reap the benefits of stronger economic growth, according to a consultant who will be a speaker at an October 28 forum in Montgomery.
Patricia Harris, board chairwoman of the Washington, D.C.- based Association for Enterprise Opportunities, will give a presentation, “Bigger Than You Think: The Impact of Microbusinesses on the U.S. and Alabama Economies,” to kick off the Alabama MicroEnterprise Network Forum at the Embassy Suites, 300 Tallapoosa St. in Montgomery. AMEN is an advocacy group for microbusinesses, or small businesses with five or fewer employees.
In an interview, Harris said she hopes her talk persuades more business and political leaders in Alabama to invest in the nurturing and creation of micro businesses.
“Microbusinesses make up 92 percent of all businesses in the U.S. If just 1 in 3 microbusinesses hired one person, we would wipe out unemployment across the nation,” said Harris, principal of Harris Consulting Group LLC, a Savannah, Ga. consulting firm specializing in economic development strategies, funding and resource development for nonprofits and microbusinesses.
The AMEN FORUM is being sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce – Office of Small Business Advocacy, ADECA – Office of Minority Business Enterprise, Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Regions Bank, BB&T Bank and Renasant Bank.
The economic impact of microbusiness are far reaching, particularly for Main Street entrepreneurs, and cut across racial, ethnic, and gender lines, Harris said. That’s why more government leaders and banks in states across the U.S. are beginning to implement policies that encourage the development of microenterprises.
“Loans to microbusinesses are up 4 percent,” she said. “Organizations like AMEN are more important than ever.”
In today’s tough labor market, microbusinesses are a viable option for those facing downsizing or layoff, and can allow experienced workers in the 50-plus age group to attain self-sufficiency.
“Millions of Americans who’ve lost jobs in this economy are having to create microbusinesses,” Harris said. “My message at the AMEN Forum in Montgomery will be to encourage CEOs, bankers, politicians and business leaders to support the training and development of microbusiness owners.”
Harris has spent much of her career helping groom small businesses in metro Atlanta. She previously led The Edge Connection, which assisted over 7,000 Atlanta area clients in the start-up and expansion of microbusinesses. Harris created The Edge Kitchen, a non-profit incubator for food entrepreneurs, managed the SBA Women’s Business Center in Atlanta, and was one of the founders of the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network.
Besides Harris, speakers will include “The State of Microbusiness in Alabama” by Sam Addy, director of the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, and plenary sessions on “Strategies for Supporting Microbusiness Owners’ Financial Success by Katherine Lucas McKay with CFED and “Microenterprise: Future Trends” by Joyce Klein of the Aspen Institute. To register for the conference, go to www.microenterprisealabama.org.
October 22, 2014