A Whole-of-Government Commitment to Inclusive Entrepreneurial Growth

This article is cross-posted on the White House Blog

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines of American innovation and our economic success, and President Obama is committed to helping them grow and prosper. Our nation’s small businesses employ over 60 million Americans, or half of the private sector workforce. Both small businesses and especially new businesses that are less than five years old are particularly important in job creation in the United States, with a relatively small number of rapidly growing companies generating an outsized share of new jobs – in every industry and across the country.

Last year, President Obama spoke with his Cabinet about how every Federal agency has a role to play in promoting the success of American entrepreneurs:

[What] we want to do is to make sure that every single agency, even as they’re tending to their energy initiatives or providing homeland security or transportation or defense, that we’re also thinking about how are we’re advancing the cause of giving small businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities to start creating the next Google or the next Apple or the next innovative company that’s going to create jobs and improve our economy.

The Obama Administration recently released a detailed action plan to achieve this goal of increasing Federal services to entrepreneurs and small businesses, with an emphasis on (1) startups and growing firms and (2) underserved markets. This is one of a select group of Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals, designed to improve government performance on important national priorities.

Why is this important? There are dozens of agencies across the Federal government, and there is always room for closer coordination.  By coming together under White House leadership, these agencies are embarking on a sustained, integrated commitment to:

  1. Continuously improve services for startups and small businesses, with a focus on growth and inclusion;
  2. Collaborate among agencies toward a shared goal;
  3. Measure performance with specific milestones and metrics; and
  4. Track progress every quarter for public view on Performance.gov.

The action plan lays out a set of ten areas where agencies will work together on the White House Startup America initiative to promote high-growth entrepreneurship and the Administration’s broader small business agenda.  Here are some highlights:

BusinessUSA, a one-stop-shop for businesses to access Federal services, is measuring and optimizing customer satisfaction.

Building on the success of the Entrepreneur Pathways portal, agencies responsible for our immigration system are working together to make administrative improvements to existing visa programs for entrepreneurs seeking to start companies and create jobs in the United States.

Building on the success of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps and a Presidential Memorandum on technology transfer, agencies responsible for federally-funded research and development are working together to accelerate innovation from lab to market, and to increase participation by women and minority entrepreneurs.

Given that the Federal government is an over $80 billion customer for small businesses, agencies are benchmarking their progress toward inclusive contracting goals, and deploying new streamlined models of doing business with innovative high-growth companies, such as “RFP-EZ.”

To maximize our competitive advantage as a nation, we must ensure that, with hard work, American entrepreneurs have the opportunity to find the capital, training, and market access they need to start and grow their businesses.  By focusing on this government-wide strategy to improve services for these job-creating firms, the Administration will help widen America’s lead as the most entrepreneurial and competitive country in the world.

Read more about the Entrepreneurship and Small Business CAP Goal here, and check in again next quarter for more progress.

Jason Furman is Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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