Chief Counsel travels to California for listening tour
By Emily Williams, Outreach and Events Specialist
In February, Chief Counsel for Advocacy Darryl L. DePriest, along with members of Advocacy’s Office of Economic Research, traveled to California to present research results and hear from small businesses in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. On his listening tour of Region 9, Mr. DePriest had the opportunity to meet with multiple small business owners and employees to hear from them on a wide array of issues.
The first stop of the day was a tour of Runway, a small business incubator located in the Twitter headquarters in downtown San Francisco. Runway offers its small business tenants regular events such as pitch competitions, hackathons, and panel discussions to help foster their skills and the community vibe.
After the tour, Advocacy hosted a roundtable focusing on minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Advocacy’s Chief Economist Christine Kymn, Economist Miriam Segal, and Economist Dan Wilmoth all presented. Dr. Kymn reported on our most recent economic report, Imported Entrepreneurs: Foreign-Born Scientists and Engineers in U.S. STEM Fields Entrepreneurship. Economists Segal and Wilmoth both presented on upcoming reports and issue briefs the office of economic research will be releasing soon.
Advocacy was mainly in listening mode for the San Francisco roundtable, and heard many opinions on how to help minorities succeed in STEM fields and how to help people in minority communities get more funding for their STEM research. One major take-away was to start STEM education earlier and immerse students in STEM course work in community college.
For the afternoon, Advocacy staff traveled to Silicon Valley to attend meetings with local small business tech startups and to host another listening session in the evening. The small business representatives in attendance for the evening listening session were very vocal on immigration law. Many of them had examples where people educated in America had to leave and start their businesses in their home country because they could not stay here to do so. The main take away for this listening session was that Congress should know that “the valley” is a job creator. Many people felt it would be great if Congress could separate business immigration and regular immigration.
Overall, the trip was very productive. The most common themes were to replicate what has worked in the past with education and accelerators and to keep supporting both minorities and women in STEM fields. While it was a quick trip, we were able to bring back the concerns of small businesses to share with D.C. policymakers.