Henry Sanders Jr. appointed to SBA advocacy post
Facilitating Job Creation

By Jonathan Gramling

       With billions of dollars in annual purchases from contractors, regulatory
policies made and tax regulations modified to encourage national trends, the U.S.
government is the biggest player in the U.S. and global economies. Since it is such
a large economic and political actor, and small move that the federal government
makes can have huge intended and unintended consequences.
Small businesses on their own have little influence or ability to advocate for their
interests when federal policy is formulated. Unintended consequences created by
seemingly minor federal actions can have a huge impact on the vitality of small
businesses and their ability to generate jobs. And small businesses over the past 15
years have created 65 percent of new jobs in the U.S.
       In order to prevent the unintended consequences and ensure that the voice of
small businesses are heard, the U.S. Small Business Administration houses the
Office of Advocacy, which is an independent voice for small business within the
federal government. Madison’s Winslow Sargeant was appointed the chief counsel
of advocacy by the Obama administration in 2010. And on January 3, Henry
Sanders Jr., appointed by Sargeant, assumed the duties regional advocate of the
Office of Advocacy’s Region V, which includes the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.
       “I was aware of the opportunity about 3-4 months ago,” Sanders said. “I was
having conversations with some of the people in Washington, D.C. about this job. It
Henry Sanders Jr. will be advocating for small
businesses as the regional advocate for the Office of
Advocacy's Region V, an appointment made by
Winslow Sargeant, chief counsel for advocacy.
sounded like a really good fit. They really wanted someone who understood small businesses, but also government. It sounded like a really
good fit for someone with my background, being a vice-president with the chamber of commerce, worked for U.S. Representative Tammy
Baldwin, worked at WHEDA. We had ongoing conversations and I went through the process and luckily I got.”
       While the Region V headquarters is in Chicago, Sanders will be able to work out of the SBA office in Madison on Regent Street. No
matter where he is located, Sanders will be doing a lot of traveling within the region.
       “My thing is going out and talking to legislators, governors and trade organizations and have a dialogue about what policies actually
impact them and make sure we can get those views back to Washington, D.C.,” Sanders said. “Right now, I’m trying to assess what small
businesses need. I’m going to talk to a lot of the trade organizations first. I’m going to talk to the National Federation of Independent
Businesses and the chambers of commerce. I’m trying to get a feel for what they are thinking.”
       While Sanders has lots of experience working with small businesses and assisting them in accessing the federal government, he feels
that it is important that he find out all over again what the needs of small businesses are. “We’ll do some creative things, maybe some small
business councils, some roundtables and some things like that to get people from different backgrounds together to talk about policies,”
Sanders said. “I will probably do that from throughout the Midwest.”
       While Sanders is responsible for getting the opinions of small business from throughout the Midwest, it is an added plus that Sanders is
from Wisconsin and will be based here as Wisconsin tries to pull out of the Great Recession. “What is really nice is that I am from Wisconsin,”
Sanders said. “The person who was in the position before me was from Illinois, so he brought an Illinois flavor to it. I come from Wisconsin
and will bring a Wisconsin angle to the job. But I will definitely travel and get to the other states. I think that is something that I really want to
do and find out what is going on with small businesses in other places.”
       So when your small business is experiencing reoccurring problems with federal policies and rules, who are you going to call? Call the
SBA Office of Advocacy
, as well as your elected federal representatives.