MEMORANDUM: Small Businesses – President Obama’s Middle Class Economics Trade Agenda

Below are endorsements of President Obama’s trade agenda from small and medium-sized business leaders across the country, affirming that that America’s small businesses stand to benefit from the opportunities that the Obama Administration’s trade agenda will unlock.

98 percent of the American companies that export are small and medium-sized businesses, and small businesses have accounted for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades.

There are 28 million small businesses in the United States, yet only about 1 percent, or 300,000 of these companies export. This is why breaking down barriers abroad to Made-in-America exports from small businesses represents a tremendous economic opportunities for U.S. small businesses.   

President Obama’s trade agenda will help American small businesses reach untapped customers by opening new markets in critical regions of the world, and that starts with TPA.


Bipartisan Letter from U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Former Administrators, 3/19/15: “We come from different political parties, and we have led the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at different junctures, but on this point we all agree: Congressional approval of trade promotion authority (TPA) and completing the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) sought by President Barack Obama would constitute a significant victory for America's small businesses… Trade promotion opens doors for small businesses that would otherwise remain closed. TPP would be our first trade agreement with a specific chapter dedicated to growing our small business exports. The significance of this cannot be overstated; the barriers to accessing new markets are often more daunting for small business owners who have less resources than their larger counterparts.”

  • Maria Contreras-Sweet
  • Karen G. Mills
  • Steve Preston
  • Hector Barreto
  • Aida Alvarez




Richard Adkerson, CEO, President, and Vice Chairman, Freeport-McMoRan, 4/20/15: “Today, the United States has an ambitious trade agenda to help American companies, farmers and workers compete and succeed in international markets. Passage of trade promotion authority is critical to advancing this agenda.”

Wendy Jameson, Founder and CEO, Colnatec, 4/16/15: “Without exporting, our business couldn’t exist. But we face significant challenges to trading abroad—from state owned enterprises to weak intellectual property protections. Trade agreements would tackle these challenges and make sure the world plays by our rules, not China’s. When it’s China’s rules, American companies lose.”

Ray Zuckerman, CEO, ServerLIFT Corporation, 4/16/15: “When our company began production in 2005, we had one employee. Thanks in large part to our ability to expand internationally; we now employ 25 and are growing. Strengthening international trade ensures American businesses like ours can compete in the global economy, building for a stronger tomorrow while insuring long-term prosperity.”

Karen Dickinson, Chair, Arizona District Export Council, 4/16/15: “Trade agreements are essential to helping Phoenix businesses export their services, which will in turn boost our economy significantly. We must seize this opportunity or risk getting left behind.”



Roy Paulson, President and CEO, Paulson Manufacturing, 4/13/15“…congressional debate over Trade Promotion Authority gives our elected officials in Washington the chance to create new opportunities and open new markets for American small businesses around the world. I, along with millions of other small-business owners, hope they succeed and pass this critical legislation.”

Roy Paulson, President, Paulson Manufacturing Corporation; Chair, National District Export Council, 4/16/15: “It is time to modernize trade rules to reflect today’s global economy and deliver greater opportunities for small businesses to thrive. Congress can do so through passage of TPA and completion of pending U.S. free trade agreements with Europe and Pacific Rim nations.”

Garry Ridge, CEO, WD-40 Company, 4/16/15: “At WD-40 Co., business is booming, but we face unnecessary challenges selling American-made products in foreign markets. Washington should help companies like ours do business smarter, not harder.”

Kimberley Benson, Vice President, Cange International, 4/16/15: “Small businesses that export perform better and contribute more to the economy than those that don’t. Yet because of budget and resource constraints only five percent of small businesses are currently exporting. The current trade agreements would significantly help small businesses export by leveling the playing field, making it faster, cheaper and easier to access new markets.”

Sabrina Moyle, Co-Founder and CEO, Hello!Lucky, 4/16/15: “As a business owner, passing TPA is a no-brainer. Anything that lowers barriers to selling our products overseas is good for business, good for my employees, and good for my local economy. Increasing U.S. exports will make for a more economically vibrant country.”

Susan Kohn Ross, Chair, District Expert Council of Southern California, 4/16/15: “Our clients regularly confront the twin challenges of international trade—market access, and the very different regulatory maze each country imposes on imported goods. Without Trade Promotion Authority, the U.S. is severely handicapped from negotiating trade agreements which open up markets and level playing fields for American companies, large and small.”

Daveed Waithaka, President and CEO, California Exporting Group, 4/16/15: “Trade supports 4.7 million jobs in our state and trade-related jobs pay higher wages. The increased trade from trade agreements like TPP would help the Capital Region be even more prosperous, and make it easier for our business to export to Japan – an important market for agriculture exports.”

Ernest Wooden Jr., President and CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, 4/16/15: “As the official tourism authority for Los Angeles, our primary mission is increasing visitation to our destination – from both domestic and international markets. This mission has significant economic impact for LA. As we know that free trade agreements positively impact the volume of international visitors participating in U.S. trade shows and conventions, we believe that international trade is a critical factor not only for Los Angeles, but for our peer DMO’s around the country.”

Mark Mariani, Chairman and CEO, Mariani Packing Co., 3/28/15: “We have seen first-hand how access to new global markets can do incredible things for our business. Increased trade has helped our mission to support local agriculture, as Mariani is now the second-largest supplier of California dried plums in the country. It has also enabled us to continue to invest in our company, our 600 employees, and our sustainability efforts.”

Gary Ridge, President and CEO, WD-40 Co., 3/9/15: “Washington must help companies like ours do business smarter, not harder. The first step is for Congress to pass trade promotion authority, sometimes referred to as ‘fast-track authority.’”



Beverlee Dacey, President, Amodex Products, 4/16/15: “As a consumer product manufacturer in the United States, our intellectual property and brand is the essence of our business. Exporting American products like ours is challenging, because we currently have little to no recourse if our IP is stolen. The proposed trade agreements would make it easier to enforce copyrights and trademarks on my family’s stain removal products. We need to stay ahead of the next wave of protectionism, by empowering our leadership with strong trade agreements that provide a level playing field in foreign trade for American companies.”



Evan Greenberg, President and CEO, ACE Group, 4/24/15: “Congress must pass TPA. Doing so will help ensure that we unlock more opportunities for Delaware and the rest of America.”



Andrew East, Executive Vice President, AET Solar, 4/16/15: “The domestic solar market is unpredictable, so selling to other countries helps us hedge our bets and diversify revenue streams. But right now, we live in a fragmented and challenging global marketplace. These trade agreements will help create a true global marketplace where innovative companies can thrive.”

Michael Lassner, President, Allied Steel Buildings, 4/16/15: “As Allied Steel Buildings works around the globe—64 countries—we find ourselves in competition with global competitors backed by newly minted free trade agreements. It's critical that our government act swiftly to enable U.S. companies to remain globally competitive.”



Paul Hletko, Founder and Master Distiller, Few Spirits, 5/15/15“It is critical that Congress pass TPA to help U.S. exports flourish in markets abroad. We are proud of our American made spirits products and know that the world is ready and willing to buy them.  All we need is access – and TPA can make that happen.”

Craig Shields, President and Chief Engineer, Graymills Co., 4/20/15: “The sooner Congress moves forward with TPA, the sooner companies like ours can open the front door and welcome new customers both domestically and abroad."

Craig Shields, President and Chief Engineer, Graymills Corporation, 4/16/15: “Every time we do business in a new country, we must meet new standards, costing us valuable time and resources. If a pump isn’t going to explode in Chicago, it isn’t going to explode in Cordoba. TPA will pave the way for trade agreements that would streamline standards, making trading abroad easier and more efficient. Our business, and the people we employ, depends on those trade agreements passing.”

Ryan Darley, International Sales Manager, W.S. Darley & Co., 4/16/15: “My family business sells fire pumps, fire trucks and emergency response equipment to over 100 countries every year. Trade agreements help us operate on a level playing field in certain countries where tariffs and other trade barriers would otherwise make selling very difficult.  Additional trade agreements would do great things for my business and for the U.S. economy.”

Andrew Neal, President, STRYTECH Group Inc., 4/16/15: “While my company primarily sells specialty chemical products domestically now, I see tremendous potential for international expansion in the future. Trade Promotion Authority and subsequent trade agreements would allow companies like mine to reach new markets and help create jobs at home.”

Steven Kase, CEO, ASK Power, 3/6/15: “To make sure we play a leading part in the future of international trade, we need Congress to step up and pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation, or fast track legislation.”



J. Wendell Addy, Director, Maz-Amtech LLC, 4/16/15: “As a business development specialist, I spend every day helping my clients expand to new markets, particularly in Africa. TPA offers opportunities for every U.S. business—large and small—to be part of a national team effort toward growing and sustaining a vibrant United States. Right now, it’s hard for businesses to do work abroad, but TPA will help clear the path for trade agreements that will create sustainable jobs and set international standards for fair and transparent trade practices.”    

Drew Greenblatt, President, Marlin Steel, 2/12/15: “…Congress needs to pass an updated TPA bill. It offers the U.S. the chance to make headway on trade agreements that would bring jobs and growth to exporting businesses here in Baltimore City, Maryland, and across the U.S. My business, Marlin Steel, manufactures custom steel wire baskets and sheet metal fabrications here in Baltimore City. Our products have a wide variety of uses, from the automotive, aerospace, medical and pharmaceutical industries. These products, stamped with the marker 'Made in the USA,' are exported to our clients in markets across the world such as China and Japan. Today, we owe 20 percent of our jobs to our exports at Marlin Steel.”



Dale Andersen, President and CEO, Delkor Systems, Inc., 4/16/15: “For my company and the packing machinery industry, exports are key to both maintaining our competitive position and serving our food and beverage clients, many of whom have international operations. The recent change in the valuation of the dollar is going to make Delkor's export opportunities considerably more challenging in 2015. We compete with many European manufacturers in places such as Mexico, Canada and South America. One big advantage that the European manufacturers have is a variety of governmental support programs to assist them with their export business. Given the more competitive landscape, this is an excellent time for the U.S. government to find ways to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers exports.”



Ike Nwabuonwu, Chairman and CEO, Alpha Energy and Electric, Inc., 4/16/15: “Exporting our expertise overseas increases the number of customers who have access to American products. Increases in the demand for our services and Made-in-America energy products translate to increase in revenue and consequently our capacity to create new jobs. I hope that Congress will approve Trade Promotion Authority, the most important trade legislation in years. The survival of our company depends on it.”



Kim Daniels, President, Mercantile Logistics & International Trade, Inc., 4/16/15: “My company helps other small- and medium-sized companies import and export their goods more efficiently and economically. I see every day how trade agreements make a difference. For example, without agreements, duties can be quiet excessive and sometimes my clients will simply step away from the idea of exporting their goods at all, especially to European and Asian countries. If they opt to still export their goods, they will certainly move less volume.With both TPP and T-TIP, businesses would be more apt to export their goods, knowing that they are going to be able to compete in the economic environment of the receiving country.”


New York

Jack Cannon, CEO, Cannon Industries, 5/14/15“From where I'm sitting, it's clear that trade is beneficial to my business and to workers across New York. It's also clear that trade agreements help deliver better outcomes for U.S. exports. That is why we need Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to help finalize any new trade agreements.”


North Carolina

Dyke Messinger, President, Power Curbers Inc., 5/4/15"Our equipment can be found in more than 90 countries, helping create safer, more efficient infrastructure. Despite our success, we continue to face substantial barriers in international markets that make it difficult to compete globally. Without these barriers, American industry succeeds. Trade Promotion Authority is a key negotiating tool that gives our negotiators maximum leverage to secure the best deal in trade agreements. We must pass TPA now..."

Kevon Makell, CEO, SEWW Energy, 4/16/15: “International trade plays a vital role in the ongoing successes of SEWW Energy’s ability to provide lifesaving energy and healthcare infrastructure solutions to our clients. The reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority will help us benefit from the ongoing trade negotiations by circumventing trade barriers that often make exporting a daunting endeavor for small businesses. SEWW Energy welcomes trade and investment agreements that are fair, transparent, and accountable, in an effort create a level playing field for small- and medium-sized companies. The opening of new markets for American products and services will help ensure SEWW Energy and other small businesses, whose revenues increasingly derive from our ability to export our products and services, can compete with foreign competitors on the international markets.”



Tom Lix, Founder and Chairman, Cleveland Whiskey, 5/1/15“Our small but growing business has just started to benefit from access to foreign markets – and expanding that access is not only good for the country as a whole, it also has a direct and significant impact right here in Ohio. It is critical that Congress pass TPA to help U.S. exports flourish in markets abroad.”

Howard Ice, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Ice Industries, 3/4/15"We live in a globalized world, and the U.S. can either take the lead or stand on the sidelines as the trade agenda for the 21st century is set. As an Army Veteran, and a business owner, there is really only one option for America: lead. In order to lead however, Congress must pass TPA.”



Fred Duckwall, President, Duckwall Fruit, 5/2/15: “For our business to continue to grow and thrive, we need to continue selling our agriculture products overseas. That means we need new trade deals that open up markets to Oregon businesses. I applaud Senator Wyden for the work he has done to date supporting Trade Promotion. Duckwall Fruit has been trading with countries for almost one hundred years. We want to continue selling our great produce for another one hundred, and that is why we need Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.”

Patrick Kruse, Founder, Ruffwear, 4/20/15“International trade allows small U.S. businesses like ours to think big. … From our standpoint, it's critical that Congress embrace trade, empowering millions of American businesses to expand abroad, as well as domestically, and create jobs here at home. … Congress must act now to level the playing field for U.S. businesses. It is time to open the doors to trade so that small businesses like ours can develop new customers abroad while generating economic growth at home.”

Michael Morrow, Founder and President, Nutcase, Inc., 3/15/15“Our company, Nutcase helmets, is one of thousands in Oregon that rely on overseas customers for growth. With support from local economic development agencies and improvements in technology, accessing global markets is becoming less burdensome for small companies. But we need modern trading rules to ensure a more level playing field. ... Trade has been good for our company. It's fueled our growth and allowed us to hire more Oregonians who share a passion for our products. We hope that the members of our congressional delegation embrace the opportunity to deepen our relationship with Oregon's most important trading partners in the Pacific Rim.”



Wendy Masciow, CEO, Medical Equipment Source LLC, 5/12/15: “Trade has been an integral part of our company's story. We started in Pittsburgh in 2002 and now sell our products in 28 countries…Unfortunately, small businesses like mine face serious risks and challenges when trying to export in the current trade environment. Exporting to our key markets often means tariffs and complicated regulations that make it difficult to sell our goods beyond our borders…There is a solution to the challenges of exporting: passing new trade agreements. New agreements would help eliminate or reduce many of the barriers to exporting and make it easier for companies like mine to expand abroad and create quality jobs here at home.”

Andrew Nuffer, General Manager, Thompson Mahogany Co., 4/16/15: “My company, Thompson Mahogany Co. has been in the import business and has been creating good jobs for Philadelphians since 1843. But right now, we need trade agreements to ensure not only that we can continue to import the finest hardwood lumber, but also so that the cost of doing so isn't prohibitive. Without TPA, the chances of completing any new trade agreements plummet. So to get more trade, we need to pass TPA.”

Andrew Nuffer, General Manager, Thompson Mahogany Co., 3/6/15: “The bottom line is that trade is good for Philadelphia. TPA opens the door to more trade. So to get more trade, we need to pass TPA.”



Luis Alvarez, President and CEO, Lancer Corp, 4/16/15: “International distribution is a critical part of my company’s strategy, but we currently face challenges with selling our beverage dispensers abroad. For example, different countries have different certification standards that are burdensome to comply with. Fortunately Trade Promotion Authority, and the trade agreements it will support, will remove a number of barriers for companies like mine. This will allow us to create more jobs at home.”

Michele Beckley, Vice President, Merlot Skin Care, 4/16/15: “International growth options are incredibly important for a small business like ours that’s looking to broaden its reach. As the manufacturers of high quality skin care products, we have found there is a demand for our American made goods in international markets. These trade agreements play a vital role in helping to pave the road for expansion, not only abroad, but in the U.S. as we bring on more key team members to help execute on our expanding operations.” 

David Ickert, Vice President of Finance, Air Tractor, Inc., 4/16/15: “Our company exports products to more than 25 countries around the world. Our global reach has been critical to our successful growth. We need trade agreements that will help more companies like ours sell abroad and create more jobs at home.”

Chowdary Yanamadala, Senior Vice President, CHAOLOGIX, 4/16/15: “The current trade agreements do not adequately address cross border data flow issues, IP ownership and internet governance issues. The global economy is rapidly becoming a digital and information-enabled economy. It is very important that the United States participate in and lead trade agreements that deal with issues related to data flow and governance. As a provider of proprietary data-security IP to customers globally, we are impacted directly by the trade policies in this area and we think that there is more work that needs to be done immediately. I hope TPA legislation is passed swiftly, thereby enabling the United States to maintain its leadership in the global economy.”

Jose Carlos Gonzalez, Principal, Gonzalez & Asociados, 4/16/15: “As a health benefit administrator, our business depends on the small business community. Trade Promotion Authority will allow the U.S. to write the rules of trade to improve our manufacturing and service jobs. If more manufacturing is done right here in Texas as opposed to China, that will be good not only for small businesses, but also for the economy at large.”

Francisco P. Ramos, Dentist, 4/16/15: “As a dentist a strong economy means economic success to many other businesses. I want to encourage our legislators to pass and understand the significance the TPA proposal.”



Scott Harris, Founder, Catoctin Creek Distillery, 4/20/15“Our family business has benefited greatly from access to foreign markets — and expanding that access is not only good for the country as a whole, it has a direct and significant impact right here in Virginia. It is critical that Congress pass TPA to help U.S. exports flourish in markets abroad.”

Dr. Amanda Sozer, Founder and President, SNA International, 4/16/15: “Doing business internationally is important to my company’s growth. I have experienced first hand how state-owned enterprises from other countries threaten to put our company out of business. Passing TPA is critical to finalizing trade agreements that would help American businesses compete on a level playing field internationally.”

George Judd, Director, Cask, LLC, 4/16/15: “My company has a vested interest in the approval of Trade Promotion Authority and the establishment of free trade agreements. These agreements provide both protection and opportunity to export our services to businesses world-wide. In the twenty-first century, we must do business with those who we share common interests with, if not always common values.  Those common interests include sharing best practices, increased management and economic transparency, and support for improved standards of living through technology and infrastructure investments.”

Dr. Gene Ray, CEO, Decision Sciences International Corporation, 4/16/15: “Trade agreements that open up new export and import markets necessitate enhanced security for the global flow of commerce.  For Decision Sciences, these new markets present business and deployment opportunities for our Multi-Mode Passive Detection Systems.”


Washington State

Anil Amlani, Vice President, FUJIFILM SonoSite, Inc., 3/27/15“Trade Promotion Authority and the international trade it would facilitate would create more opportunities for our business and all Puget Sound businesses, big and small. This is a win-win.”

Anil Amlani, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, FUJIFILM Sonosite, Inc., 4/16/15:  “Every product we sell overseas helps us hire more Washington-state workers and pay them competitive wages. We need Washington to improve international trade policies so that we can continue to reach healthcare providers and patients all over the world. TPA, and the international trade it would facilitate, could create more opportunities for our business and many other Puget Sound businesses, both big and small. This is a win-win.”



Kyle Weatherly, President, Solaris, 4/16/15: “International trade made it possible for our customer base to grow, creating jobs here in the United States that would not have existed otherwise. Congress must pass TPA so more American companies can expand and create more jobs at home.”

Jeff Darley, Executive Vice President and COO, W.S. Darley & Co., 4/7/15“If you want other countries to open their markets to U.S. products and help put in place stronger rules that will help American producers such as Darley compete on a level playing field, it's important to tell Congress to pass TPA so that your voice is heard. ... I know what trade has done for my business. I'm excited to see Wisconsin business compete on a level playing field, in a more open, connected global economy with millions of consumers interested in what we have to offer.”

Jim Corkery, President, ACS, 3/30/15: “The passage of TPA is critical for the completion of future trade agreements. ... For U.S. businesses and suppliers affected by trade, this will mean a significant boost in business and jobs.”