RD10 - Annual Executive Summary on the Findings and Recommendations of the Small Business Commission

    Executive Summary:

    January 6, 2005

    The Virginia General Assembly established the Small Business Commission in 1995 for the purpose of studying, reporting, and making recommendations on issues of concern to Virginia’s small businesses. The Commission is required by § 30-183 of the Virginia Code to:

    • Evaluate the impact of existing statutes and proposed legislation on small businesses.
    • Assess the Commonwealth's small business assistance programs and examine ways to enhance their effectiveness.
    • Provide small business owners and advocates with a forum to address their concerns.
    • Report annually its findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly.

    The Commission is comprised of 14 members: six members from the House of Delegates, four members from the Senate and four at-large members appointed by the governor. The at-large members are required to be individuals with small business experience or expertise.

    The House of Delegates members of the Commission are R. Lee Ware of Powhatan, G. Glenn Oder of Newport News, William R. Janis of Goochland, Jeffrey M. Frederick of Prince William, Clarence E. Phillips of Dickenson, and Fenton L. Bland, Jr., of Petersburg. The Senate members of the Commission are Nicholas D. Rerras of Norfolk, Russell H. Potts, Jr. of Winchester, Frank M. Ruff of Mecklenburg, and J. Brandon Bell, II of Roanoke. The gubernatorial appointees are Robert A. Archer of Salem, Lana Ingram Digges of Fredericksburg, Ronald V. Shickle of Winchester, and Marilyn H. West of Richmond.

    The Commission had been inactive following its meeting on October 17, 2000. Subsequent to that meeting, the Commission's chair, Delegate Victor Thomas, retired from the General Assembly. At the call of vice chairman Senator Rerras, the Commission met on January 5, 2005. At the meeting, Senator Bell was elected to serve as the Commission's chairman and Delegate Frederick as its vice-chairman.

    The agenda for the January 5 meeting focused on the Commonwealth's primary programs providing assistance to small businesses. Presentations were made by:

    • Michael J. Schewel, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, who alerted the Commission to Governor Warner's new "Virginia Works" initiative.

    • M. Shea Hollifield, Deputy Director, of Department of Housing and Community Development, who discussed the status of the Enterprise Zone program, the Virginia Enterprise Initiative, and the Main Street Program.

    • Michael Eisenman, Director of the Department of Business Assistance, who addressed the work of his agency's workforce services, financial services, and existing business services divisions.

    • Jody Keenan of George Mason University, who addressed the Small Business Development Centers network of 29 local office around the Commonwealth.

    • Peter Jobse, President of the Center for Innovative Technology, who focused on 8 small business programs administered by the Center.

    • Edward Hamm, Director of the Department of Minority Business Enterprise, whose remarks focused on efforts by the administration to increase state procurement from small, women- and minority-owned (SWAM) businesses.

    • Gary R. McLaren, Deputy Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, who dispelled the notion that the Partnership only deals with large businesses.

    • The Commission believes that it serves an important role in providing small businesses with a forum for presenting concerns to the General Assembly. The Commission intends to meet after the adjournment of the 2005 Session, at which time it will establish priorities and develop a plan for future activities.

    The Commission does not intend to submit a further report for publication.