U.S. Chamber executive meets with Southlake business

Jason MacLean, Ian MacLean of Highland Landscaping, and Tom Sullivan, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thomas Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, met with City of Southlake and Southlake Chamber of Commerce officials on Tuesday to discuss issues facing small businesses.

The group of seven toured the operation of Highland Landscaping, which is based in Southlake and has been previously named Business of the Year by the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. Following the tour, they convened for a roundtable that addressed challenges most commonly faced by Highland Landscaping and small businesses as a whole.

The U.S. Chamber defines small businesses as those with fewer than 500 employees.

Sullivan revealed the future, initiatives and priorities of the U.S. Chamber by stating, “What I hear most commonly are regulations, taxes and affordable access to healthcare. These really are the big three we are hearing all over the country. Congress is going to have to come together and pass reforms that will make healthcare affordable. Tax reform is on the near horizon, where comprehensive reform will bring down rates, both individual and corporate, and regulatory reform. We’re already on the right path to seeing significant improvements in the environment for small business to grow.”

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According to Sullivan, the Trump administration has raised the bar on cooperation with small business. “This new administration wants more businesses to be able to grow. Just his first actions on regulatory relief say it all. You had the prior president trying to regulate, which devastated small businesses. For the first time in 40 years, we saw a decrease in start-ups. Now the new president says, ‘Let’s remove these barriers so small businesses can grow.’ I think you see that reflected in small business optimism that is an all-time high.”

Sullivan was in the area to speak before the Consumer Bankers Association at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, where the main topic was recent developments in non-bank lending for small businesses. In his words, “With options such as Cabbage, On Deck and Square, these lending sources are filling the gap” left when larger banks were declining small business loans.

“I chose to visit Highland Landscaping because of the important role that Ian MacLean is playing with the U.S. Chamber. He is a member of our Small Business Council, a group of over 120 businesses throughout the nation that share their perspectives on issues including taxes, energy, healthcare, regulations and employee relations. It’s amazing how much our policymakers listen to small business owners such as Ian.”

Mayor Laura Hill joined with Southlake Chamber President/CEO Mark Guilbert and Chairman Peter Ermish as they expressed their concerns about employee recruitment, retention and motivation, and their hope for fewer regulations that constrain small business.

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MacLean is also a two-time past chairman of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce and will chair its largest event of the year – Oktoberfest – this fall for his fifth consecutive year. He added, “I have been extremely impressed with Tom’s passion for small businesses when I attend the Small Business Council. He has a real grasp of the issues that are most important to us.” The company is now in its 15th year and with 45 employees.

Based in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization, representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions.