US Mayor Article

Partner America¬ Update

July 17, 2000

Rochester, Manchester Mayors Host Small Business Events

Partner America¬, the small business initiative announced at the annual winter meeting in Washington, has sponsored several events in recent months in cities along the eastern seaboard. The program was created through a public-private partnership between the United States Conference of Mayors and American Management Services of Waltham, Massachusetts.

Most recently, Partner America¬ joined with Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. to host a small business day in Rochester on June 27. The event was well attended, with at least 120 members of the local small business community. The half-day conference commenced at 8:30 am in City Hall Council Chambers with Mayor Johnson's welcoming remarks and a presentation by George A. Cloutier, Chairman of Partner America¬ and the Chairman and CEO of American Management Services. The following three panels addressed issues covering a wide range of issues, including procurement opportunities, workforce recruitment, training and retention, and an overview of federal small business programs and resources.

Mr. Cloutier spoke about the difficulties and challenges faced by American small businesses. He stressed the importance of small business to the local and national economies of the United States. Mr. Cloutier believes that most problems faced by small businesses are rooted in poor management, and are therefore not problems of simple finance, "Businesses cannot simply finance their way to profitability. It can only be achieved through effective and committed management. Our role will be to help businesses achieve all of the profits they deserve and take full advantage of the billions of dollars of federal resources earmarked for small businesses."

Mayor Johnson was in attendance as the official host of this half-day event. The mayor, who co-chairs the Partner America¬ task force for the Conference, was extremely pleased with the community's response to such an event, and viewed the day as a success for the small business community in Rochester. The information presented throughout the conference may be utilized by small businesses in Rochester to increase profit, and bolster business growth. "Small businesses are responsible for today's strong national and local economy. The contribution of providing jobs, products and services strengthen the local community's economic and social infrastructure by increasing the tax base and generating funding for the cities and towns in which they do business," Mayor Johnson stated.

On May 26, another Partner America¬ - Small Business event took place, this time in Manchester, New Hampshire. There, Mayor Robert A. Baines hosted a roundtable event, with the goal of isolating issues that would be most helpful to the small business community in Manchester in preparation for a day-long conference in the fall. The point of the roundtable was to address what issues the small business leaders hoped would be discussed at the fall event. Small business events are extremely important in the Manchester area, where 5,000 small businesses compete, but only 11 of those businesses earn annual revenues of more than $2.5 million.

The roundtable included representatives from various government agencies with whom Partner America¬ is related, including the Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The attendees of this event were Manchester area business leaders who could contribute information about the needs of the Manchester area business community. After opening remarks by Mayor Baines, and an overview of Partner America¬ by Mr. Cloutier, the table was left open for discussion and questions. The Manchester roundtable isolated a variety of issues ranging from information about procurement opportunities and federal small business assistance programs to information about exporting and potential joint venture partnerships overseas. Management technical expertise was discussed to help increase profits.

Upcoming Partner America¬ events include a small business roundtable and luncheon July 13 in Buffalo with Mayor Masiello and a July 27 small business roundtable hosted by Mayor Jennings in Albany, NY. The next "Partnership for Profit 2000" conference is July 27 in Houston, TX.

What Businesses Are Saying About Partner America¬╔

Upon the completion of the Business Survey¬, American Management Services (AMS) asks the small business to fill out a questionnaire, rating the program. The results from this questionnaire are outlined below*:

  • 96% of businesses served said the Business Survey¬ pointed out areas where profitability could be increased.

  • 96% of businesses would also recommend the Business Survey¬ to colleagues.

  • 93% of businesses indicated that the Business Survey¬ contained information and processes that will be implemented in those businesses.

  • 94% agreed the analysts had clearly communicated concepts and new ideas.

  • 96% agreed that the Business Survey¬ was worth the $500 fee.

The end result is summed up in comments made by the business owners themselves. Many believe that they are now taking the right steps towards greater profit by "improving communications", creating "incentive based performance criteria", and through retaining AMS services. The overall feedback has been positive and is evident of the impact Partner America¬ is already having with small businesses in US cities.

*This data is based upon the results of 82 evaluation forms, completed as of 4/11/00.

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