Startup America: New Commitments Fueling America’s Entrepreneurs

This afternoon at Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley, following the President’s national town hall on Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity, I’ll join a group of entrepreneurs for a livestreamed panel on Startup America, the White House-led initiative to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship across the country.

This initiative is a top priority for President Obama. Entrepreneurship is a key ingredient to economic growth. Startups all across the country play a crucial role in job creation, since these companies generate the lion’s share of net new jobs.  Startups are also responsible for developing breakthroughs in industries such as information technology, biotechnology, and clean energy that will allow the United States to compete and win in the global economy.

The Obama Administration is doing its part to create the right environment for high-growth entrepreneurship. We are reducing taxes, streamlining and eliminating burdensome regulations, increasing access to capital, expanding opportunities for high-quality mentorship and entrepreneurial education, and speeding up the commercialization of federally funded research.

Here are some highlights of our progress to date:

  • We have eliminated capital gains taxes on qualified small business investments made in 2011 and the President has called to make this incentive permanent.
  • We’re focused on removing barriers to entrepreneurship, especially federal regulations or rules that do more harm than good.  We’re in the middle of a national tour to listen to entrepreneurs, and identify where we can cut red tape to make it easier to start and grow a business.  And we urge you to submit your own ideas for reducing barriers.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made an open call for investment managers and limited partners to take advantage of its new Impact Investment Initiative, which will deploy $1 billion in capital to match private sector investments in small companies focused on emerging sectors or underserved markets.
  • As part of the Joining Forces initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to mobilize support for military families, SCORE has created the new Veteran Fast Launch Initiative that will accelerate high-growth startups founded by veterans and their families.  The new program leverages SCORE’s national network of 13,500 volunteer mentors and trainers, the SBA’s Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), and a package of services, scholarships and free software provided by major corporate partners.  Veteran Fast Launch will support 16,000 military veterans and their families and help launch 3,000 new businesses during the first year.
  • In an effort to ensure the best return on our nation’s $148 billion annual investment in federal R&D, the Department of Energy just launched an initiative called "America's Next Top Energy Innovator" that cuts upfront patent licensing costs and challenges entrepreneurs to commercialize technologies from our national laboratories. 
  • We’re identifying more ways to ensure that entrepreneurs can access the capital they need to grow and create jobs.  Led by Secretary Geithner, the Treasury Department recently convened an Access to Capital Conference bringing together policymakers, entrepreneurs, investors, and academics to figure out how both the public and private sectors can unlock access to capital at each stage of growth for a small company.
  • Senior Administration officials are expanding outreach to entrepreneurs and investors on how the President’s policies and priorities are unleashing new market opportunities for entrepreneurs, including in education technology.

However, we know that the private sector, not the government, is the most important driver of entrepreneurial activity. That is why the President issued a call to action to the private sector to dramatically accelerate the success of America’s high-growth entrepreneurs.  Today a range of companies and nonprofits are answering that call to action, mobilized by the Startup America Partnership, an alliance of mentors, advisors, funders, major corporations and service providers.

In his State of the Union address, the President reminded us that “America was born to win the future.”  The President believes that entrepreneurs will be architects of that future and central to America’s ability to compete and prosper in the 21st century.

We are still in the startup phase of Startup America, but we are already seeing big results.  Both the Obama Administration and the private sector are doing what it takes to answer the President’s call to action – enhancing the ability of entrepreneurs across the country to develop new ideas and create new jobs.  Stay tuned for more news from the White House and the Startup America Partnership, as these campaigns continue to forge ahead.

Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

Related Topics: Startup America
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