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Press release from Business Wire

Dallas Small Business Leaders Identify Access to Capital as Top Challenge

<p class='bwalignc'> <i><b>Travelers Institute and Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Co-Host Panel Discussion to Consider Solutions to Entrepreneurial Challenges</b></i> </p>

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dallas Small Business Leaders Identify Access to Capital as Top Challenge13:30 EST Wednesday, November 30, 2011 DALLAS (Business Wire) -- The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today convened regional leaders of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Department of Commerce/Minority Business Development Agency and local small business lenders to address challenges facing small business owners and to identify solutions. Co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the symposium, “Small Business, Big Opportunity,” featured a discussion about the business environment in Texas, which is ranked third in the nation for business-friendliness by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. Panelists identified barriers to funding, while offering tips for obtaining small business loans, risk management and business continuity planning. “As one of the largest insurers of small businesses with a national network of independent agents, many of whom are also small business owners, we recognize the importance of entrepreneurs as a critical economic driver,” said Joan Woodward, Travelers Executive Vice President of Public Policy and head of the Travelers Institute. “By facilitating discussion among the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, lenders, government leaders and small business owners, we hope to raise awareness of the most pressing issues facing entrepreneurs in order to help identify solutions.” Alfreda B. Norman, Dallas Fed Vice President of Community Development, agreed and noted, “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has been engaging lenders and others that support entrepreneurs to better understand the issues faced by small businesses and the network that supports them. This event allowed us to facilitate discussion and share a variety of tools that promote entrepreneurship.” Woodward moderated the panel, which featured Dallas small business leaders, including: Herbert Austin, District Director for Dallas/Fort Worth, Small Business Administration Raymond Cervantes, Acting Regional Director, U.S. Dept. of Commerce/Minority Business Development Agency Victor Elmore, CEO & President, Texas Mezzanine Fund, Inc. Ana Hernandez, Vice President, Commercial Banking, BB&T, and President of the Hispanic Bankers Association of Texas Alfreda B. Norman, Vice President of Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas D'Ann Petersen, Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Elizabeth Sobel-Blum, Community Development Research Associate, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas At the event, panelists offered resources and tools that are available to help small business owners navigate daily challenges. Norman discussed the role of her bank's Small Business and Entrepreneurship Resource Center, a clearinghouse of information on current trends and tools from public, private and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Herbert Austin, the SBA's District Director for Dallas/Fort Worth, highlighted that Small Business Development Centers and SCORE Chapters are available for small business owners to use. The SBA district office works with 314 participating lenders to provide access to capital to the small business community. In addition, panelists touched on other business challenges, including risk management, business continuity planning, regulatory requirements, and other issues that impact small business growth and job creation. Bill Cox, Vice President of the Carey Cox Company, a North Texas-based commercial real estate brokerage firm, shared his success story and noted how he overcame business challenges along the way. “Our company has more than doubled its employee count in the last year because we've embraced smart growth. But along the way, we also faced significant challenges,” said Cox. “It's forums like the Travelers Institute's symposium that helps business owners share their story with other entrepreneurs and allow us to gather new expert tips that can be easily applied to our businesses every day.” The Dallas-Fort Worth symposium is the fifth small business forum the Travelers Institute has held this year, in addition to Morristown, N.J., Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Travelers Institute has hosted events in conjunction with the Latino Coalition, Small Business California and other business advocacy groups. Earlier this year, the company released a white paper, “Small Business, Big Opportunity,” outlining its principles for advocacy. As part of its efforts to help small businesses achieve success, Travelers helped promote Small Business Saturday®, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. For more information, visit www.travelers.com/ShopSmallBusiness. About the Travelers InstituteThe 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 www.travelers.com. TravelersAshley Maagero860-277-2954