Travelers Institute Hosts Small Business Advocacy Symposium in Atlanta

May 18, 2011

Convenes Business, Government and Community Leaders to Raise Awareness of and Identify Solutions to Top Entrepreneurial Challenges

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today hosted the second in a series of national symposia, "Small Business, Big Opportunity," to facilitate discussion of the issues facing small business owners across the country. The cornerstone of the event included data recently released by the Travelers Institute showing top concerns of surveyed entrepreneurs, in conjunction with a white paper in which the Travelers Institute recommends principles for small business advocacy to address these and other challenges.

The Travelers Institute’s symposium brought together business, government and community leaders to discuss job creation and economic growth. The event was held in Atlanta, where 97 percent of all businesses employ fewer than 100 employees and two-thirds of job growth comes from small business, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

“Travelers is committed to helping small businesses face the risks that challenge them, while influencing policy change 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 communities, and we understand it is essential to have state and federal policies that encourage entrepreneurship and fuel job creation in Atlanta and across the country.”

In addition to Woodward, who moderated the panel, program participants included:

  • Mark Berson, Regional Advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy
  • Bob Brody, Senior Vice President, Global Operations Claim and Risk Control, Travelers
  • Karen Leone de Nie, Community and Economic Development Research Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
  • Bernie Meineke, Atlanta Director, Small Business Development Center at Georgia State University
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia
  • Marc Schmittlein, President and CEO, Travelers Select Accounts
  • Naheed Syed, Founder and CEO, Global Resource Management Inc. and Board Member, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region

"The Travelers Institute, through its work, highlights some of the many obstacles facing our country’s small businesses. It underscores the real need for government at all levels to evaluate the direct and indirect impact of regulatory and tax policies on job creation and economic opportunity,” said U.S. Rep. Price, who spoke at the symposium. “Our nation's small businesses are the greatest drivers of our economic engine and our most prolific job creators. Protecting their ability to grow and prosper will ensure that our cherished American spirit of entrepreneurship has room to breathe and pave the way for a brighter future for our country.”

At the symposium, held just days prior to the official start of hurricane season and following a round of devastating weather, panelists also addressed the issues of disaster preparedness and business continuity. According to the Travelers Institute survey, more than half of all small business owners surveyed do not have a business continuity plan.

Further, while the survey reveals that small business owners may believe their revenue will grow and that they will be hiring new employees over the next year, close to a third of those surveyed feel government regulations are negatively impacting their ability to hire and retain employees, as well as grow their business.

Naheed Syed, who was recognized as one of the Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies by Entrepreneur Magazine and was awarded “International Women of Influence” by Global Women Executives, said, “Given the significant presence of small businesses in Atlanta, we are thrilled that Travelers is raising awareness of issues facing entrepreneurs in today’s challenging economy and helping small business executives like me and others address the risks that may challenge the future of our business.” Syed also received the 2009 Asian Women in Business Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and Top 50 Asian American Businesses in USA.

In addition to today’s symposium, Travelers is also a sponsor of the upcoming U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., May 23 – 25. The Travelers Institute has additional symposia planned in select markets throughout 2011 to bring stakeholders together to discuss ways to create better operating climates for small businesses. For more information, visit

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

Source: Travelers



Ashley Maagero