Did reg-trimming roundtables spark new ideas?

Wednesday - 9/14/2011, 9:29am EDT

Sean Greene, associate administrator for investment, SBA

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The Obama Administration has issued its call for agencies to trim outdated, costly and overly burdensome regulations that might hurt entrepreneurs.

And the regulation-trimming initiative, part of the White House's "Startup America" program, got a hearing in eight cities across the country in roundtable discussions held by the Small Business Administration.

Sean Greene, associate administrator for investment at the Small Business Administration, told Federal News Radio the impetus for the discussions was to "get out and listen to entrepreneurs — to hear what barriers they're facing and get specific ideas on how we can address those barriers."

The roundtables were held nationwide from Boston and Minneapolis to Silicon Valley. SBA also set up an online platform to take comments.

"It was an incredibly constructive dialogue (with) lots of great ideas," Greene said. "And we're already moving forward on implementing some of them."

The roundtables focused on entrepreneurs with "high-growth potential," Greene said. "So they could be small now, but these are companies (that) are thinking big ... with dreams and aspirations of becoming bigger companies."

Those are also, not incidentally, the kinds of companies most responsible for job growth, he added.

There were several recurring themes that emerged from the talks, Greene said.

Some of them were not all that surprising, such as better access to loans, employees and customers. And while participants certainly shared their complaints about individual regulations, Green said many also said they wanted help in dealing with the broader issue of "navigating the federal government."

After holding the discussions, SBA's next step is implementation.

Various proposals generally fit into three "buckets," he said: Ideas that require Congressional action, those that the private sector should work on and some the administration can enact on its own.

Since the regulation-trimming initiative was first announced in January, each agency has been looking at its own regulations and determining which to end, efforts which have been coordinated by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Even though the roundtable tour has ended, Greene said future efforts will likely include some way to closely involve mall business people.

"Listening and talking to the customers — if you will — is an incredibly important part of this effort overall," he said. "... And this kind of feedback is an incredibly important part now, but also on an ongoing basis. So that very much will be built into how we want to work going forward."