In remarks Tuesday at 2011's Exploring Innovation Conference, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke told attendees that conditions for U.S. small businesses are improving and discussed ways in which the Federal Reserve and other agencies are working to find ways to encourage further growth.
“At this point, I am pleased to tell you that recent anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that conditions are improving for small businesses,” said Duke, who gave the opening keynote at the conference, which is being held May 9-11 at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis.
“Although no definitive data source exists, the combination of a variety of recent survey results paints a picture of increasing optimism about future sales and business conditions and a corresponding easing of credit availability for small businesses," she added. "While this upward trend is encouraging, the Fed is continuing to look for ideas that will help small businesses as they work through some of the more subtle issues constraining their overall growth."
As an example, Duke noted an upcoming series of regional forums for financial institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) on the use and deployment of small business programs that were authorized in the Small Business Jobs Act. The forums are being organized with participation from the Treasury Department; the Small Business Administration; the CDFI Fund; the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the trade organizations for CDFIs, and the Fed's partner regulatory agencies.
"In addition to providing information to regional forum participants, we will use the forums to gather information back practices, trends and any barriers to the successful implementation of these federal programs," Duke said.
The forums will culminate with a November conference to be held in Washington, D.C. at the Board of Governors in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The conference will focus on small business credit and workforce training issues facing entrepreneurs, particularly women and minority entrepreneurs and those living in low-and moderate-income communities.
"Because jobs and the needs of low- and moderate-income communities remain a priority for us, we will continue to foster collaborative efforts in hopes of additional innovative responses," Duke said.
This year's Exploring Innovation conference is co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas and Minneapolis.