2010 DC Summit Recap: PBLN Takes the Hill

Jeff Bussgang and Paul Egerman

In the U.S. Capitol: Jeff Bussgang (General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners) asks a question as Paul Egerman (founder and ex-CEO eScription), Jim Boyle (CEO, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.) and Justin Dangel (CEO, Consumer United) look on from a packed room.

The PBLN 2010 Washington CEO Summit was powerful. 75 strong took the case for inventing a more sustainable, competitive economy to Capitol Hill. Without a doubt though this was more about our own education than about lobbying anyone: Filling gaps in knowledge and understanding between business and government. Follow the ongoing conversation on twitter (pbln) and via the Progressive Business Leaders Network Linked In and Facebook groups – and by commenting on this blog.

Summary of the Summit below:

Great coverage in the blogosphere of the PBLN DC Summit:

Warner Markey Belluck

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey pass in the hall as one leaves and one enters the PBLN Summit. David Belluck of Riverside Partners looks on, waiting to introduce Senator Warner.

Some Summit high points (photos are on the website; more are on the PBLN Facebook page and many more are being loaded up):

  • Follow up from the Summit? See the “next steps” button on the pbln website and consider these items:New Hampshire US Rep Paul Hodes (who is running for US Senate) laid out a vision of how serious the moment is after the financial meltdown, and stressing fiscal responsibility.
  • House Energy Chair Ed Markey described the urgency of passing price-on-carbon proposals in the Senate (already cleared the House) and launching an innovation revolution via a new energy policy. He said being against clean energy is like telecom being against the internet and cell phones back in the 80′s and 90′s. Note that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose senior energy aide Melanie Nakagawa was also a presenter at the Summit, released his American Power Act proposal together with Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman the day after the PBLN event. Reactions to it are all over the lot but not very hopeful for passage. He is still hoping to have bipartisan support including South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
  • Virginia Senator Mark Warner captivated our audience by bridging his business experience and government service. We will definitely be working with Senator Warner again.
  • Great panels including business and innovation leaders Mitch Tyson, Joshua Boger, Diane Hessan, Jim Roosevelt, Paul Egerman, CAP’s Neera Tanden, Business Roundtable‘s Maria Ghazal, and Progressive Policy Institute Founder Will Marshall.
  • Congressmen Barney Frank and Mike Capuano (Massachusetts) joint session. The takeaways there: Frank said you need to support higher taxes and tell the public that will not hurt your business; and we need to cut military spending by half. And Capuano: We need to address the impact of the Supreme Court decision that gave corporation’s free speech rights as if they were people, and we need a progressive business group to become a political force.
  • CEO Paul Sagan and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham in a discussion led by Bentley University President Gloria Larson – covered the urgency of fixing US public education at all levels. Sagan urged business leaders to get personally involved in one individual school.
  • Senior staffers from the Office of the Vice President (Jared Bernstein and Terrel McSweeny) briefed us on job creation and the challenges of the middle class. Big takeaway: even in the boom years, as profits and wealth rose, median family incomes in the US declined. Crisis now for “middle class” and made dramatically worse by the financial meltdown and bursting real estate bubbles which wiped out retirements and put homes under water.
  • Brief meeting with new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown – just had the chance to welcome and congratulate him and let him know we would love to have a longer conversation perhaps during summer recess. We also got to meet some of his staff and begin a dialogue about issues.
  • The conversations there continue in our working groups on a year-round basis where you can be part of determining where we focus our time and yours.
  • Cunningham Sagan Larson

    From left to right, Assistant Secretary of Education Peter Cunningham, Akamai CEO Paul Sagan and Bentley University President Gloria Larson

    We are already planning for our biggest and most comprehensive Summit ever – a PBLN Summit on October 8th at Bentley University in Waltham. Plan to save the night before for dinner and the entire day on the 8th – it will be worth it.

  • We will be relaunching our entire website and messaging in the June-July timeframe, and introducing entirely new levels and opportunities for engagement among members of the network.
  • Finally-and most importantly, we will launch the next phase of our seed capital drive, in order to make this vital organization sustainable itself. We will need your help if we are going to rise to the challenge of all that became so apparent to us in Washington about the relevance of this project.

For those who doubt whether a progressive business voice is needed or viable – you only need to hear the pleading of Senator Warner and the others we met with that business leaders of all perspectives get involved in the process. A call to action if there ever was one.