Heidi Heitkamp

Questioning Linda McMahon at SBA Confirmation Hearing - Jan. 24, 2017

Heidi Heitkamp
January 24, 2017— Washington, D.C.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for stopping by our subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. It was all about small business and business advocacy, and the role that SBA plays it was a great discussion.

We welcome you at any point, Linda, to our subcommittee. It's a great place for gathering of talking about cross section between small business and regulatory reform.

I wish just for a minute you'd been able to turn around when you were speaking about the challenges you had and have seen the pride and affection in your daughter's face. It was quite lovely. It's clear you have a great relationship. As my mother's heart just got a little warmed by that affection.

I think it's what so many small businesses are about. They're about families and they're about working together and learning how to overcome struggles. But I want to talk about two groups of entrepreneurs that I think are looking for a different level of engagement and involvement. We talked a lot about programs.

The first is young entrepreneurs and the second are Native entrepreneur entrepreneurs. Thank you so much for coming to my office. We had a great discussion. I'm concerned that young entrepreneurs frequently may be able to write the best app or write the best program. They somehow don't know how to translate that into business. I personally believe we are experiencing a complete failure in financial literacy in America that is finding its way into the business community. I'm interested in your thoughts and I’m just going to throw in the Native piece and you can have the rest of my time.

Native Americans have experienced a lot of economic challenges, really, from the initial engagement in this country. The challenges that SBA has in Indian Country are exacerbated by the challenges we have with jurisdiction and the challenges we have with making sure there is a commercial code people can rely on. So I think I’m interested in how you can work with both these groups of entrepreneurs to engage a future for small business in America, especially in Indian Country but among young entrepreneurs. MCMAHON: Obviously, I have more experience with young entrepreneurs than I do in Indian Country. I would look forward to working with you and understanding more of the situations that already are in your state relative to how small business administration can be beneficial to our Indian small business developers. I look forward to that, so thank you.

Young entrepreneurs, I’ve found, are great with ideas. Some of them have a great business savvy, some of them have no clue what to do. They're in their garage or dorm room wherever they are and developed this unbelievable app and have all kinds of stuff, boy, somebody will buy me and I will be a millionaire. It doesn't always work that way. I think there's a discipline that needs be shown more to our young entrepreneurs.

I sit on the board of trustees of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. One thing we do is incubate small business development there. As we strive to walk these young entrepreneurs through the steps of business, they are actually creating businesses. They’ve developed t-shirts, hats with logos, understanding intellectual property, and all of that and how it is managed.

So that whole educational process is like, “Wow! This is how it works.” They are making success out of it, and they are running successful businesses.

And we need to continue that not just in our universities, but I have kids in high school that don't know how to balance a checkbook. It's like, “Really?” We need to have that fundamental understanding, I think, of the basic economics as we move forward to develop this next generation of our young people.

HEITKAMP: I don't think there's no dispute here that we need to grow the financial literacy in order for people to be successful. I saw it when I was Tax Commissioner. People with ideas, great ability, didn't know how to file even the simplest of tax forms—not that we shouldn’t have fewer tax forms-- there's going to be need for some tax forms to be filed. I look forward to continuing our discussion especially about the challenges of Native Americans and entrepreneurship.

MCMAHON: Thank you, very much.

Speech from https://www.c-span.org/video/?422425-1/sba-administrator-linda-mcmahon-testifies-confirmation-hearing&start=2354.