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Remarks to the 38th Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation

Aug. 14, 2019

Thank you, Martha [Miller] and the staff in the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation for taking the lead in organizing this 38th annual Government-Business Forum.[1] This is our first small business forum under the leadership of Martha and her office, which already have substantially contributed to our efforts to engage with small business owners, investors and entrepreneurs.

I also am pleased that we are continuing the trend of taking the small business forum to new locations across the country. Our generous host this year is the Heider College of Business at Creighton University. Thank you Dean Anthony R. Hendrickson for opening your doors to the SEC. I also want to thank the panelists and moderators who are sharing their insights and experience with us today.

I am particularly pleased that we are holding the small business forum in Omaha this year, the heart of the “Silicon Prairie,” a term used to loosely define a region that includes Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska. A particular focus of mine has been to facilitate small business access to capital across the United States, not just in the traditional centers for capital in the two coasts.[2] While there are a couple of places that claim the title of being the geographic center of the United States,[3] at more than 1,400 miles from Boston and almost 1,700 miles from Silicon Valley, I am confident that this is the closest to the center of the country that the small business forum has ever convened.

Hosting the small business forum in Omaha allows us to learn from and showcase the small businesses that have been successful at raising capital outside the two coasts. Yesterday, along with some of my fellow Commissioners, I had the opportunity to tour a project in a designated opportunity zone. Today, we will hear first-hand from local small businesses and their investors. I look forward to learning more about areas where our rules are helping to facilitate capital formation and, more importantly, areas where we have more work to do.

In fact, it is a good time to be asking ourselves these questions and learning from your experiences. As you will hear from the second panel, the Commission recently issued a concept release requesting comment on how we can modernize and harmonize the exemptions from registration that many small businesses use to raise capital.[4] I hope today’s discussion, and the recommendations that you will be putting forth this afternoon, build from the practical experiences of our panelists. As you discuss potential recommendations, I encourage you to think outside the box, as if you had a blank slate and not the current patchwork of rules that small businesses and their investors currently need to navigate.

I look forward to the dialogue and the recommendations.

Thank you.


[1] My words are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my fellow Commissioners or the SEC staff.

[2] See, e.g., Amendments to Smaller Reporting Company Definition, Release No. 33-10513 (Jun. 28, 2018) [83 FR 31992 (Jul. 10, 2018)]; Rule 701- Exempt Offerings Pursuant to Compensatory Arrangements, Release No. 10520 (Jul. 18, 2018) [83 FR 34940 (Jul. 24, 2018)]; Amendments to Regulation A, Release No. 33-10591 (Dec. 19, 2018) [84 FR 520 (Jan. 31, 2019)]; FAST Act Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K, Release No. 33-10618 (Mar. 20, 2019) [84 FR 12674 (Apr. 2, 2019)]; Solicitations of Interest Prior to a Registered Public Offering (proposing release), Release No. 33-10607 (Feb. 19, 2019) [84 FR 6713 (Feb. 28, 2019)]; Amendments to the Accelerated Filer and Large Accelerated Filer Definitions (proposing release), Release No. 34-85814 (May 3, 2019) [84 FR 24876 (May 29, 2019)]; and Concept Release on Harmonization of Securities Offering Exemptions, Release No. 33-10649 (Jun. 18, 2019) [84 FR 30460 (Jun. 26, 2019)].

[3] The U.S. National Geodetic Survey regards a point approximately 20 mi north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota as the geographic center of the United States (when including Alaska and Hawaii in the calculation). For the contiguous states, the geographic center is two miles northwest of the town of Lebanon, Kansas. See Geographic Center of the United States, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Survey, available at https://www.ngs.noaa.gov/PUBS_LIB/GeoCenter_USA1.pdf.

[4] Concept Release on Harmonization of Securities Offering Exemptions.

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