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Travelers Institute Partners with Small Business California to Advocate for Small Businesses and Identify Solutions to Complex Challenges

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 20, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today announced the results of its California small business survey, in which more than two out of three Bay Area entrepreneurs, policy makers and community leaders surveyed feel that small business is more heavily impacted by government regulation than their larger counterparts. The results were revealed at the Travelers Institute's "Small Business, Big Opportunity" symposium, which convened San Francisco small business leaders at the historic Merchants Exchange Building, an emblem of the city's economic significance, to identify solutions to business challenges.

At the event, panelists discussed detailed survey findings in which employee benefit matters (61 percent) and cash flow (60 percent) were cited as the top challenges facing small businesses in California. Participants also discussed the Travelers Institute's white paper, which advocates for greater awareness of small business issues through legislative action to reduce regulatory burdens and offers tips for business continuity and risk management planning.

"Travelers is committed to helping small businesses succeed and influencing public policy leaders to improve the business environment," said Joan Woodward, Travelers Executive Vice President of Public Policy, who also heads the Travelers Institute. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we understand it is essential to have state and federal policies that encourage entrepreneurship and fuel job creation in San Francisco and across the country."

In addition to Woodward, who moderated the panel, program participants included several high-profile San Francisco small business leaders including:

  • Christine Baker, Acting Director, California Department of Industrial Relations
  • Elizabeth Echols, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Regina Dick Endrizzi, Director, San Francisco Office of Small Business
  • Scott Hauge, President, Small Business California
  • Al Nelson, Regional Vice President, Small Commercial - California Region, Travelers

"Businesses, especially small ones, need encouragement to expand and create jobs, ultimately stimulating the local economy. This requires appropriate access to both resources and capital, and limiting burdensome regulations that stifle growth," said Scott Hauge, an insurance executive who also runs the entrepreneurial advocacy group Small Business California, which co-hosted the event. "Through its series of small business symposia, the Travelers Institute highlights many of the very obstacles facing entrepreneurs in San Francisco, and we are proud to partner with them to address and solve these challenges."

At the symposium, panelists discussed the issues of disaster preparedness and business continuity planning as critical to business success. The American Red Cross has data that shows as many as 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after a disaster, and according to a national Travelers Institute survey conducted in March, more than half of all small business owners surveyed do not have a business continuity plan.*

"As one of the largest insurers of small businesses in the country, we strongly advocate for business continuity planning and risk management," said Al Nelson, Travelers Regional Vice President of Small Commercial. "We've seen firsthand what can happen when entrepreneurs aren't prepared for disaster." Nelson added that many business owners consider business continuity planning a competitive advantage, recognizing that an entrepreneur's reputation and livelihood are at stake if they can't meet the needs of their customers.

The key findings of the Travelers Institute California survey discussed at the symposium include:

  • 71 percent of respondents feel the national, state and local economies are in poor condition. The majority feel it will be the same or worse next year. There is more pessimism among small business owners in California regarding the economy compared to the national sentiment overall, based on a similar national survey conducted by the Travelers Institute.
  • Employee benefit matters (61 percent) and cash flow (60 percent) are cited as the top business challenges facing small businesses in California.
  • 51 percent cite state/local regulation and 35 percent cite federal regulation as business challenges.
  • 50 percent say employment regulations are the most difficult to comply with, followed by health insurance mandates (47 percent).
  • The majority (65 percent) feel that small business is more heavily impacted by government regulation than big business.
  • More than 4-in-10 feel that government regulation negatively impacts the ability of small businesses to hire new employees and grow business.

Methodology: The survey polled 129 Travelers Institute symposium attendees in conjunction with Small Business California members. The poll was conducted online from 9/20/2011 - 10/7/2011 and respondents included a mix of business owners and principals from small sized firms, as well as policy makers and community leaders in the San Francisco area.

The Travelers Institute has additional forums planned in select markets throughout the remainder of the year to bring stakeholders together to discuss ways to create better operating climates for small businesses. For more information, visit http://www.travelersinstitute.com.

About the Travelers Institute
The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc., engages in discussion and analysis of public policy topics of importance to the insurance marketplace and the financial services industry. The Travelers Institute draws upon the industry expertise of Travelers' senior management and the technical expertise of many of Travelers' underwriters, risk managers and other experts to provide information and analysis to public policy makers and regulators. Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. For more information, visit http://www.travelers.com.

About Small Business California
Small Business California is a proactive, non-partisan business advocate whose only agenda is the well-being of California's 3.2 million small businesses. Working for all small businesses for a better business environment, SB-Cal is responsive to the needs of small business owners.

* Based on data collected through a national Travelers Institute survey of small business leaders conducted in early 2011.

SOURCE: The Travelers Companies, Inc.

The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Media Contact:
Ashley Maagero ,860-277-2954

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