La. small business owners discuss impact, strategies after attending Goldman Sachs summit

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – More than 2,500 small business owners, including several from Louisiana, gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit.

Leaders say that was the largest-ever gathering of small business owners in U.S. history. The goal was to give people a chance to learn, grow, and advocate for their needs.

“It really was an opportunity to have education, to really learn from others who have grown and scaled their businesses, to hear some of the challenges and solutions they’ve had, and also advocate for small businesses,” Lakeisha Robichaux said.

Robichaux is the founder and CEO of Chief of Minds in Baton Rouge. She says she got a chance to sit down with lawmakers to talk about the challenges they face, and the solutions they would like to see happen.

“One of the things was capital. As small business owners, we have to compete with the larger corporations. So having the access to capital to pay the higher competitive wages, to be able to offer benefits, so small businesses can compete with that,” Robichaux said.

According to Goldman Sachs Vice President Amy Betzen, that’s the biggest fear small businesses across the country are facing.

“It’s just their ability to attract and retain in this tight labor market, and their ability to offer competitive benefits and be able to compete with the Amazon’s of the world, and really provide their employees with the benefits that they so want to,” Betzen said.

Robichaux says she wants lawmakers to create a program that can help small businesses retain staff and offer competitive wages.

“Some type of benefit program that will help small businesses be able to attract and negotiate a nice benefit package so that retention can happen,” Robichaux said.

Despite the challenges, Robichaux says there is a lot of optimism moving forward.

“We will need solutions, and we will need support. That’s why we have to continue to advocate for small businesses to get the funding that we need and get the backup that we need. As long as we have that, then I see that the future looks positive, but making some changes and good partnerships will help,” Robichaux said.

Some of the other people in attendance includes President George W. Bush, Warren Buffet, and NBA star Chris Paul.

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