March 2, 2021

You’re the Boss Blog: At Obama Jobs Speech, Small Business Is in Audience

The Agenda

How small-business issues are shaping politics and policy.

Whenever a president addresses Congress, the White House invites a panel of Americans, distinguished and not, to watch the speech with the first lady from prime seats in the gallery above. The guests tend to be demographically diverse, but they also tend to be united in representing priorities the president intends to emphasize in the speech.

President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress tonight on creating jobs hews to that tradition. According to the White House, 24 people will join Michelle Obama in the first lady’s box. Some of the names are familiar — the invitees include Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chairman and chief executive of General Electric;  Kenneth I. Chenault, the chairman and chief executive of American Express;  Steve Case, the founder of America Online; and Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. But six small-business owners and executives are also on the guest list, and their presence reflects the importance of small business to the economy and the political landscape. Here they are, in capsule biographies provided by the White House:

Darlene Miller, owner and chief executive of Permac Industries, a precision machining company in Burnsville, Minn. Ms. Miller joined Permac as a sales representative in 1992 and within two years became its full owner. She is also a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Albert Green, chief executive of Kent Displays, a manufacturer of liquid crystal displays in Kent, Ohio.

Jan Heister, president and chairman of Premier Tooling and Manufacturing in Peosta, Iowa.

Philip Maung, owner and founder of Hissho Sushi, a 200 employee company based in Charlotte, N.C., that trains sushi chefs and distributes ingredients nationwide.

John Raftery, president and chief executive of Patriot Contractors, a construction firm specializing in interior and exterior architectural specialties. A service-disabled veteran of the Marines, Mr. Raftery founded Patriot Contractors in 2007; today the company has 21 employees and projects that revenue will exceed $5 million this year.

David Catalano, co-founder of Modea, a digital advertising agency in Blacksburg, Va., with 80 employees based around the country. The White House says Mr. Catalano “has been able to maintain his home in rural Virginia and build a globally competitive company, highlighting the importance of the need to provide high-speed broadband access to all parts of the country.”

Check back with The Agenda tomorrow for more on how the president’s proposals may affect small business.

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