Last month, the U.S. Small Business Administration appointed Nancy Zurbuchen, who has founded and run multiple Missouri-based businesses, as the small business advocate for a region covering Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
In her new capacity, Zurbuchen will work to communicate the concerns of small business owners and work with various government agencies and lawmakers to develop policies that facilitate small business growth.
Zurbuchen said her role as an advocate stemmed from her time on the Kansas City Council of Women Business Owners, which she co-founded.
Missouri Business Alert spoke with Zurbuchen about her new position.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Missouri Business Alert: What does a small business advocate for the Small Business Administration do?
Nancy Zurbuchen: We are the place that becomes the eyes and ears, to look out for the interests of small business in the federal government. And that is across all agencies. So the regional advocate … my role is to work within the states of Missouri and Kansas, and Nebraska and Iowa. I would be working with the chambers and the nonprofit associations that are business-related to understand how advocacy can help them grow their businesses.
MBA: In your role, what are you going to focus on?
NZ: It’s my understanding that each regional advocate across the country, based on their background and areas of interest and knowledge, will approach the job a little bit differently. I have a big background in the Regulatory and Fairness Board. … At the state level, then, my interest in is augmenting and supporting and promoting that board because they do a really good job for the state’s small businesses.
MBA: How did you find this opportunity?
NZ: I’m a small business owner myself … and, as such, I also co-founded the Kansas City Council of Women Business Owners. So, for many years, my role as the director of that was very much being an advocate specifically for women business owners in that context. And so that was how I started to understand (the importance of) understanding public policy, understanding how to get what you want as a small business owner. … I learned that and applied it in larger and larger contexts, as time went on, at the city, state and federal level.
MBA: You’ve written guest commentary in The Kansas City Star about gender inclusion in the workforce. In your new role, are you going to work for inclusion of people from underrepresented groups?
NZ: Since I have a deep background in that, that will certainly play into outreach and inclusion. … A lot of that just has to do with communication and helping those within the various geographic locations understand how to reach out, give them resources to use, that type of thing.
MBA: What is your small business background?
NZ: My first company was called Communication by Design, and it was print-oriented — a small ad agency back in the day, long before the internet. So that was the first company. The second company was Motional Images. That was a 3D animation company, back when you had to explain to people what 3D animation was. So we were very early in that area, certainly in the region. We were, like, the first. Then I sold that company to my biggest client at the time, which allowed me then to focus on the third company, which is Motional Multimedia. And that is a marketing, communications and website development.
MBA: What’s something unique about Region 7 and its small businesses?
NZ: One thing that I actually love — and I’ve seen it spring to action many times — is the ethos of the entrepreneurs being so open and willing to help one another. I can certainly attest to that in Kansas City. Now in St. Louis, I’m really seeing that same type of thing. … Not all regions have that.