Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Jewish B2B Networking (JBN) and its founder, Shalom Klein , for their outstanding work in promoting and nurturing small businesses in the metro Chicago area. Next week, on June 14, JBN will hold its second “Business Event” at the Lincolnwood Town Center in my district, just one of the many ways that it is helping small businesses, workers and our economy.
I attended last year’s inaugural Business Event, along with representatives from over 2,700 small businesses, elected officials and job seekers. It was extraordinary–a vibrant, exciting and incredibly useful opportunity for small businesses to network, learn from each other, make contacts, set up meetings to help build their companies, and share their experiences and concerns with Members of Congress. It was so successful that plans began right there on the spot to hold another Event in 2012.
Small business men and women are essential to our economic well-being. In Illinois, they represent 98 percent of all employers. They also represent the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that has made our country so strong. It is imperative that we foster small business creation and expansion–and that is the mission of JBN.
It is never easy to start a small business, but it is especially challenging today as we work to recover from the impacts of the Great Recession. JBN was formed in 2010, through the vision of Shalom Klein , to help provide the support and tools needed to help small businesses thrive.
Through its monthly networking events, JBN provides critical and practical information to help small business owners learn about available lending resources. Business to business networking through monthly forums provide the opportunity to share “best practices” and pick up tips that can help small businesses succeed. JBN is creating a vibrant network–not just among Chicagoland small businesses but between small businesses and policymakers at the local, State and national levels. This year, for example, they brought small business owners to Washington, D.C. so that they could share their experiences and recommendations with the Obama Administration and Members of Congress and also learn about opportunities and assistance.
JBN has touched over 6,000 active business networking partners and has over 17,000 subscribed networkers receiving weekly communications and utilizing its interactive website.
Through its Business Event and through online job listings, JBN has helped more than 200 job seekers obtain employment. Over 5,000 businesses and job seekers are expected at next week’s event in Lincolnwood, to exchange business information, ideas, and resources.
There are many wonderful small business men and women who have contributed to the success of JBN, but I want to specifically recognize the vision and work of ShalomKlein , its founder. As a small businessman, Shalom felt the need to connect with others. As an organizer, he did something about it. He invited 20 people to an informal “networking” lunch at the Slice of Life kosher restaurant in Skokie–and 70 people came.
Out of Shalom’s initiative, Jewish B2B Networking was born. Open to all, the non-profit organization has taken off–serving a role that had been missing in the community. What I so admire about Shalom Klein –beyond his enthusiasm and skill–is his refusal to rest on his laurels, despite the many successes he has already achieved. As he has said, he will not be satisfied if JBN reaches a plateau–as high as it may be–he wants it to keep growing and growing, empowering more and more small business men and women. His spirit is infectious, his ability to inspire people to action is enormous, and I know he and JBN will continue to excel in their efforts.
JBN knows that local communities cannot prosper without small businesses, and they are committed to providing the climate that will help them succeed. I want to thank JBN for all that it has done already and wish it well as it, like the small businesses it assists, seeks to expand its activities in the future.