Standing from left: Lawrence Williams, owner, Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park; Melvin Everson, director of Business and Industry Training, Continuing Education, Gwinnett Technical College; Jeff Tweed, owner, Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More of Snellville; Eric Van Otteren Snellville Economic Development Manager; Councilman Dave Emanuel; Barbara McClure, founder and chief executive officer of Snellville-based A Defined Image Med Spa; Karen Foote, owner, L.E.A.A.D.S; Debra Poirot, District director, Congressman Rob Woodall’s office; Christopher Blocker, business services specialist, WorkSource Atlanta Regional Commission; Doug Adams, president Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce and Adams Financial Management owner; and Bruce LeVell, Small Business Association’s Office of Advocacy’s Region 4 advocate.  Kneeling from left: Edward MacFarlane, owner FastSigns, and Joe Wilson, political activist.

SNELLVILLE – A group of small business owners had a direct line to President Donald Trump Tuesday and used it to voice their questions and comments about issues facing their businesses. 

Trump appointee Bruce LeVell, the Small Business Association’s Office of Advocacy’s Region 4 advocate, was the first guest speaker at the Snellville Business Dinner Series. The event was held at GarageWorx where attendees enjoyed dinner and conversation with LeVell, a retail and real estate company developer and former chairman of operations at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

“Often small business owners do not think anyone cares or is listening,” said Economic Development Director Eric Van Otteren. “Mr. LeVell said one of the most difficult things he hears from small businesses is that they have to just accept burdensome federal regulations. Tuesday evening at the Snellville Business Dinner, city leaders proved they care and are listening and local business owners felt like their pain was heard.”

4.11.18 Business Dinner Seated440LeVell said the Trump Administration is “serious” about the repeal of “bogus” regulations which hinder the millions of small businesses owners in the country, repeating Trump’s campaign mantra of cutting two regulations for every one created. 

FastSigns of Snellville owner Edward MacFarlane said he has already seen an increase in aluminum costs from his suppliers after Trump’s recent talk of increasing tariffs on Chinese imports. And while the tariffs are only talk right now, LeVell said there will be “bumps and bruises” but to “hold on and stay tuned” as the climate for business owners will improve once the already approved tax cuts and regulation repeals take hold. 

Conversation drifted from talk of future drone regulations to lobbyists, to payroll taxes.

LeVell said a key to getting changes made to help small business is a discussion between owners and lawmakers on all levels of government. 

“We’re the job creators,” LeVell said of the small business owners, “and that is the economic engine for the country.”

Van Otteren said he hopes to continue the series in the near future. 

“The Office of Economic Development is looking forward to continuing meaningful conversations that support small businesses,” he said. “Stay tuned for the next business dinner and conversation with leaders.”