For those who were able to attend, thank you for joining us at the Access to Markets Symposium on October 5, 2021. Senator Amy Klobuchar emphasized how important it is to fight monopolies that are stifling small businesses. “Taking on monopolies is about allowing capitalism to act as it should…Part of the answer lies in the lack of competition, and we see it from everything from cat foods to caskets.”
As John Arensmeyer from Small Business Majority noted, “We see time and time again — larger businesses are using their power to stifle smaller businesses. The results are stifling innovation, driving them out of business, and removing wealth from their communities. This is especially impacting business owners of color and women. These problems have existed since before the pandemic, but the pandemic has exacerbated them.”
We heard from many of you how dominant corporations are harming your business. We would like to thank Corissa Hernandez, Thomas Barr, and Rachael Solem for sharing their stories with the larger group. They provided powerful insight into the challenges and opportunities ahead.
“We are a stronghold to the economy. Not only do we provide jobs, but we provide hope. A lot of our community identifies with us. So if we survive, they survive.” — Corissa Hernandez, co-founder and co-owner of XELAS, The Empire Tavern, and Nativo restaurants
“A lot of times it is misconstrued that we are asking for favors for small businesses. We are asking for them to be able to compete in a way that is good for small businesses and is good for the marketplace.” —Thomas Barr, Vice President of Business Development at Local First Arizona
Speaking about the dominant booking platforms, Booking.com and Expedia, disconnected from the hotels they claim to represent:
“The cost of customer “convenience” is hidden.” — Rachael Solem, owner of Irving House at Harvard bed and breakfast
Current Policy Efforts
At the symposium, Senator Klobuchar laid out three key priorities for lawmakers and policymakers in addressing anti-competitive tactics:
- Empowering antitrust enforcers
- Senator Klobuchar has co-sponsored the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act bill, which would update merger filing fees — making them more expensive for the largest business and lowering the burden on small and medium-sized businesses. The bill would bring in over $100 million to support agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to better ensure small businesses can access fair markets.
- Updating our antitrust laws
- Make it easier to look at exclusionary or unfair contracts
- Implementing targeted competition reform
- “We know the stakes are high, and if we don’t act now, the ‘curse of bigness’ will continue to threaten our nation’s businesses, our spirit of competition.”
A few other developments worth noting:
- The FTC recently closed a public comment period on coercive contract terms and will likely be exploring these further in the future.
- President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition Policy is being implemented by various agencies, and several call for input through public comment by businesses.
- There is a package of bills moving through the House of Representatives designed to target Big Tech’s power and support antitrust enforcers.
What you can do next:
- Tell your story
“Your voices, as small business owners, carry a lot of weight. You don’t have to be a spokesperson. All you have to do is tell your story.” —Xiomara Peña, Vice President of Engagement at Small Business Majority
- Stay connected
- If you’d like to stay connected with opportunities to engage in similar events in the future or hear about opportunities to share your story with lawmakers directly or through public comments, you can sign up for the Access to Markets newsletter.
- As Ted Milner, President of Executive Temps, reminded us, “I have more power than I thought I ever did. We have a lot of power. The issue is that we aren’t united.”
- AMIBA survey on how concerned independent businesses are about monopolies
- List of common gatekeeper tactics used by dominant companies to stifle small businesses
- List of unfair or coercive contract terms you might have encountered as a supplier or vendor to a large business
- Senator Amy Klobuchar’s new book, Antitrust