Small businesses from around the country converged on Washington D.C. last week to share their stories with members of Congress and raise awareness on public policy issues impacting them.
In a fly-in event hosted by eBay Inc.’s Government Relations team, 43 technology-enabled small businesses discussed issues such as Internet sales taxes, small business cross-border trade and mobile payments with 110 U.S. Senators and Representatives over two days.
The group also heard from Devin Wenig, eBay Inc.’s President of eBay Global Marketplaces, who provided insights into business trends and how eBay Inc. is working to help retailers of all sizes adapt to the rapidly evolving commerce landscape.
“Our small businesses blanketed Capitol Hill and lobbied their members of Congress on issues that promote small business growth and development,” Wenig said.
The event -- the ninth annual U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day – helped small businesses that leverage eBay and PayPal from 38 states touch over a fifth of the U.S. Congress, marking it as eBay Inc.’s largest Capitol Hill advocacy effort to date.
“I look forward to the U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day every year,” said Barry Murphy, Director of Government Relations for Canada and Latin America. “It is one of the Government Relations team’s best events.”
“It is energizing to be surrounded by eBay sellers and PayPal merchants that are so passionate about what they do that they are willing to travel to Washington, D.C. in order to share their small business success stories with their members of Congress,” Murphy added.
Many of the small business owners and employees at the event were visiting Washington, D.C. for the first time, educating their elected representatives on issues facing their businesses.
“It is important for legislators on Capitol Hill to hear our stories first hand and see us face to face so they truly understand how important policies affect those of us back in their districts,” said Colleen Rast, owner of Great Sky Gifts in Kalispell, Montana.
“By participating in the eBay fly-in, I was able to meet with Senators Tester and Walsh and Representative Daines, and share my experiences as a small business owner in Montana,” Rast added.
Although members of Congress are lobbied day in and day out from stakeholders on every side of every issue, nothing is more compelling to them than to hear directly from the constituents that are touched by policy decisions.
Without events like the U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day, members of Congress might never have the opportunity to meet small technology-enabled businesses back home that are supporting their local communities and changing the face of retail.
"My top priority in Congress is always representing my constituents,” said Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-2). “In order to do this effectively, I must understand the issues that are facing individuals and businesses back home. I appreciate eBay Inc. for coordinating this fly-in so that my colleagues and I could have the opportunity to hear first hand the issues facing technology-enabled small businesses.”
Wenig, eBay Inc.’s President of eBay Global Marketplaces, also had the opportunity to meet with a number of U.S. Senators, including Senator James Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and many other policymakers.
“It was a pleasure to join the 2014 U.S. of eBay Advocacy Day,” said Wenig. “I appreciated having the opportunity to interact with our small businesses and hear first hand how eBay has empowered their businesses. I look forward to participating in future U.S. of eBay Advocacy Days.”