UT to host annual Government-Business Forum for first time

London Gibson

For the first time ever, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, will leave Capitol Hill for the Hill Country and host the annual Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation at UT-Austin this November.

For the past 13 years, the SEC has hosted the Government-Business Forum at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., but this year Austin’s entrepreneurial community and host of small businesses drew the commission to the Lone Star State’s capital.

Luis Martins, director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth and Renewal in the McCombs School of Business — which is hosting the forum — said bringing the forum to the UT AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center this year is a logical choice.

“It’s a recognition of the fact that Austin is a thriving hub for new business formation, that UT is intimately tied with Austin and the process of new business creation,” Martins said. “The fact that they chose McCombs was a recognition of the fact that we are consistently ranked among the top in the world for entrepreneurship, education and research.”

The themes of this year’s forum center on how small businesses raise money and some of the obstacles they may face in the process. At the free, public event, students and community members will be able to attend presentations with commissioners and then work in breakout sessions to discuss how to propel small businesses to success.

Martins said he hopes lawmakers will hear the voices of the UT and Austin business communities at the forum and then make changes to capital laws affecting entrepreneurs.

“The idea is to come up with policy suggestions that then go to legislators and various governing bodies that oversee rules about capital,” Martins said.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a press release that the forum is meant to provide an opportunity for the commission to hear directly from small businesses about their experiences. Clayton said Austin is a prime location for this forum because of its entrepreneurs and
business start-ups.

“As a hub for innovation, Austin is a fitting place for this discussion,” Clayton said. “I look forward to the forum’s recommendations and will carefully consider them as we work to fulfill the SEC’s mission.”

Emanuel Ibarra, business administration graduate student and program coordinator for the Kelleher Center, said the purpose of the forum in part is to come up with ways for just-started businesses to overcome financial obstacles and raise money. He said sometimes entrepreneurs are deterred from pursuing a new business because they anticipate it to be too difficult to get off the ground financially.

“If there’s a perception that it’s really hard to start a company, then people won’t be motivated,” Ibarra said. “The intent is, ‘How can we shape policy to promote and encourage companies and small businesses to start?’”

Martins said the forum will bring positive attention to UT’s business program.

“It’s a notable forum and importantly one that has policy impacts,” Martins said. “Having Austin’s voice and UT’s voice and the McCombs’ voice represented … I think is both an honor and a tremendous opportunity for us to shape the conversation around how small business capital formation happens.”