You Spoke, They Listened: Washington and Business Leaders Look Ahead

Hundreds of business leaders spoke up during the 16-day shutdown, sharing their stories and demanding Congressional action. Elected officials listened — but the current solution is temporary, and economists estimate the political gridlock cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. As it stands, government funding will run dry again on January 15, 2014, and the debt ceiling will be reached by February 7, 2014.

These business leaders are looking to the future. Read their stories and insist that Congress do the same.

“I have run a successful small business in Florida for more than 10 years that employs hardworking people. I hope that Congress will decide that the United States’ reputation and credit rating in the world is more important than petty partisan politics.”

– Alison M., Wesley Chapel, FL

“Having been in a leadership role with a small Tidewater business for many years, I was proud to help grow the company from 7 to 750 employees.  While there were difficult times over the past 10 years, we have had to be agile to survive and grow… We relied upon the stability of government in order to secure small business loans, good employees, and business partners.

Don’t tamper with the balance. For small business sake, we need to make good on the country’s promise to meet its debts.”

– Robert B., Norfolk, VA

“I am a Minneapolis-based small business owner who built companies in two states and three countries with the help of a terrific team of highly talented and dedicated colleagues. Sadly, I am having difficulty explaining to them why our Congress is behaving in such irrational and destructive ways… We can ill afford this reckless gamble. The economy is far from fully recovered and a technical default by the Treasury can have far-reaching repercussions, here and abroad. I worry about the impact of a default on the cost of borrowing; as the U.S. credit rating falls, the cost of money goes up, forcing us to take a hard look at ways to offset the increases. Unfortunately, that means reducing pay roll.”

– Kjell B., Borton Volvo, Inc./ Borton Overseas, LLC, Minneapolis, MN

“As a fairly successful social entrepreneur based in Miami with a largely international client base, I remain concerned about the social, fiscal, national security and good governance implications that the continued threat of a default has on Americans at home and abroad.  

We cannot afford to continue governing and living in a perpetual state of crisis. There are real and deep consequences to the lack of collaboration and cooperation which Congress has parked itself in during the Obama administration’s attempt to keep America open for business. It is time to reach across the aisle and possibly bring in the elder statesmen and women to help broker a deal.“

– Sharie B., Managing Director, Conscious Connections, Miami, FL

“Here in Baltimore, we are seeing the effects of the past 16 days of government standstill. Downtown Baltimore is the major economic driver of this region. Our city both houses and employs thousands of federal workers, and, in turn, they spend money here, providing jobs for countless Baltimoreans. Congress’ decision to furlough federal employees not only impacts these hard-working men and women, but also their families and their communities.

While the federal government shutdown is bad, a U.S. default could be catastrophic.  It’s something our city, our state, and our country cannot afford.”

– Kirby F., President, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

“House Republicans in Washington are recklessly adding uncertainty to our economy. I spent the last few years digging out from a recession, and now a few Members of Congress – who’s salary I pay – are risking another one. Last year was horrible for me as a business owner. I just won several government contracts and once again everything has come to a standstill and I’m back to laying off employees! Our economic recovery is fragile. The federal government shutdown is bad. A U.S. default in another few months could be catastrophic.”

– Twyla G., Investment Management Enterprise Inc., Washington, DC

“As a business owner, I am on the frontlines of the economic recovery, so I have seen how far we have come from the catastrophe of 2008. I’m also looking ahead, but as I do so, I see extreme partisanship threatening our growth. As a result, I do not know whether I can hire more workers, buy more equipment and maintain the services that my customers require.”

– Alvaro O., Miami, FL

“As the CEO of this organization, I am appalled at the government and the behavior of our elected officials. Everyone is for sale, asking for the biggest payment to persuade the vote… My mission is to work hard, provide for my family, and to provide my employees with a great work environment and hope for their future. I can only do so much in my world; I want to depend on our government leaders to lead and to choose ethics over power and income.”

– Shelley A., MySmartPlans, CEO, Kansas City, MO

“If there is one thing that I have learned since starting my own company, scaling it, hiring employees, providing benefits and creating a productive work culture, it is the importance of taking the long vision and planning, which includes an ‘exit strategy’.”

– Malik A., Franchisee, Prime National, Tampa, FL