With job creation at the heart of the economic discussion in America, former President Bill Clinton will soon be joining the conversation in a big way. Tomorrow marks the first annual Clinton Global Initiative America meeting, an event that's for the first time specifically focused on U.S. job creation—and is slated to feature discussions on small-business growth and nurturing American start-ups.
"Companies five years old or younger are responsible for the majority of net job growth over the last 30 years," Clinton told Inc.com Tuesday.
The two-day conference, June 29 and 30, in Chicago boasts a lofty roster of more than 700 participants, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and chairman of Dow Corning Stephanie Burns, who will be taking part in themed panel discussions and workgroups.
But it's not just the boldfaced names doing all the talking.
"One of the things we have done is bring in some very successful start-ups from around the country," Clinton said. "And we are going have a workgroup just on start-ups alone."
The start-ups chosen to participate include: "the Netflix of parenting solutions" BabbaCo; energy monitoring service Power2Switch; housing-match service RentSavvy; student-attendance service TruantToday; and social-health planner Wellthy.
"[When starting up], small businesses have to become immediately branded in terms of their product and sell at a competitive price," says Clinton. "We want to bring people that are doing this well, and put them together with experts who can accelerate business even more."
The small businesses in these workgroups are meant to produce "Commitments to Action," or strategies and goals for growth—and for contributing to social causes or their community.
Other topics in the small business realm that Clinton hopes to see resolved include access to cash.
Attending the meeting is former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who cut loan applications in the 90s from a stack of papers an inch thick to a single page. He also is known for reducing bank decision-making on small-business loans from 10 weeks to three weeks during his time as head of the Small Business Administration.
"A lot of small businesses need credit at affordable rates," he says. "I think there might be ways to get the SBA and other financing entities involved in this meeting to help accelerate the capital faster."