Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Startup Day Across America

Authored by Secretary Penny Pritzker and Representative Jared Polis

Secretary Penny Pritzker and Representative Jared PolisIn the United States, we grow up learning that anyone with a good idea can start a business and become a successful entrepreneur. We are taught that if you can conceive of it, and if you are willing to work for it, you can achieve it. Throughout our history, the stories of once-unknown innovators like Ben Franklin, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Zuckerberg prove that in this country, anything is possible.

This August 4, we celebrated America’s tradition of discovering the next ‘big idea’ by participating in Startup Day Across America 2016. Since its launch four years ago, this annual event has provided individuals from across the country the opportunity to learn from the next generation of great entrepreneurs.

As business leaders who spent decades in the private sector before entering public service, we both know the exhilaration that comes from building a company of your own. We also know that starting your own venture takes courage, a willingness to chase risk, the ability to think creatively, and the perseverance to keep going when things feel uncertain.

Every generation of entrepreneurs needs leaders in government who are willing to learn about the obstacles they encounter in today's fast-changing global economy, and to work toward creating the conditions that enable great ideas to turn into thriving businesses. This August 4, at Startup Day events in Colorado and across the country, we had the chance to meet with entrepreneurs who are leading in their fields and discuss how we can help more startups succeed in the 21st century.

In many ways, Colorado’s startup community serves as an example for the entire country. In Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and beyond, Colorado’s entrepreneurs are turning their big ideas into cloud computing services, sports accelerators, and new energy technologies. They are proving that innovation can take root anywhere.

In fact, startups across the country are thriving. New businesses continue to be responsible for virtually all new job growth in our country -- 65 percent of new jobs created since 1995 have come from new and small enterprises. In addition, our youngest companies – those less than one year old – have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades, according to the Kaufman Foundation. These figures indicate that creating the conditions for startups to succeed is key to America’s economic future.

As practitioners of public policy who started out in the business world, we are committed to creating a healthy environment for startups to grow, win investment, and compete.

This effort begins with ensuring businesses have access to a highly-skilled workforce. In government, one of the most frequent concerns shared by business leaders is the difficulties they face finding and hiring workers with the skill sets they need for the jobs that are available. To prepare more Americans for the careers of the future, President Obama has made historic investments in workforce development programs and in science, engineering, math, and technology (STEM) education.

And at the U.S. Department of Commerce we have launched a “Skills for Business” initiative to better prepare America’s workforce to compete in the 21st century. Our focus is on bringing business leaders to the table to define their needs when it comes to skills development, so that our federal training programs more aptly align with actual demand.

To further pave the way for startups’ success, our nation must also advance comprehensive immigration reform. Throughout our history and to this day, immigrants have proven more likely to open small businesses. Consider that in 2007, there were 2.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses generating $350 billion for the U.S. economy. By 2012, those numbers had grown to 3.3 million and $474 billion.

No race, gender, or class has a monopoly on good ideas. Every community deserves access to capital to get the best innovations off the ground and into the hands of consumers. To help more entrepreneurs succeed, we must simplify the process for applying and getting loans, raising equity capital, and support strategic investments in local economic development.

Beyond public policy, we can all help startups. From visiting a new small business in town to becoming an entrepreneur yourself, there were many ways to participate in Startup Day Across America. We all have a role to play in supporting the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that always has – and always must – drive America’s economy.

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Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC NEWS.

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