Startup America for a Stronger America

This week, in his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined plans to build a stronger America, including actions to help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. This vision builds on the continuing work of the White House Startup America initiative, an ongoing effort to inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the United States.

Just last week, entrepreneurs from across the country gathered at the White House to celebrate Startup America’s success thus far—and its two-year anniversary—by presenting ambitious plans for growing vibrant startup communities in Arizona, Colorado, DC, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.  

After achieving several early milestones in its first year, Startup America’s momentum has only continued to grow.  Here’s how:

Calling on Congress: In February 2012, the President signed a bill fulfilling his call to expand Self-Employment Assistance, a proven way to let states empower unemployed workers to start their own businesses. Then, in April 2012, the President signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, allowing small businesses and startups to more efficiently raise capital from investors, including through regulated crowdfunding platforms that the SEC is expected to approve this year.  And, just last month, building on the 18 small business tax cuts he has already signed into law, the President extended through 2013 a crucial tax cut for investments in small businesses by signing the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

This year, President Obama will continue to call on Congress to build an immigration system for the 21st century that meets our economic and security needs. This includes common-sense reforms to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and innovators who will help create jobs and grow our economy.

Taking Administrative Action: This past year, the Small Business Administration continued to deploy $2 billion over five years to match private investment in high-growth companies. And the Treasury Department simplified its rules to make it easier for startups and small businesses in lower-income communities to attract private-sector investments. Meanwhile, federally funded entrepreneurship training programs such as the Epicenter hub for engineering schools, the VETransfer startup accelerator for military veterans, and the inaugural National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition achieved nationwide scale. New tools were also launched to make life dramatically easier for entrepreneurs managing student loan payments, navigating visa options, and bidding for government contracts.

Finally, the Obama Administration took important new steps to translate the raw materials of innovation into successful new companies, by training entrepreneurial scientists, renewing challenges to speed research from “lab to market,” and recruiting the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows to unleash open government data that will stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation.

This coming year, Federal agencies will continue to pursue a whole-of-government commitment to inclusive entrepreneurial growth, based on a detailed action plan that is updated every quarter.

Mobilizing the Private Sector: The private sector responded to the President’s call to action by forming the Startup America Partnership, an independent alliance of entrepreneurs, major corporations, and service providers dedicated to making startups more successful.  After mobilizing over $1 billion in business resources for startups across the country, the Partnership helped launch a platform to improve business development between startup founders and corporate executives, and has launched 30 regional entrepreneurship networks across the country.

At last week’s White House meeting, the Startup America Partnership showcased 11 of these regional teams as they presented bold visions to strengthen their startup communities in 2013 and beyond. For example, Startup Maryland will launch a matchmaking portal for founder teams, Startup Virginia will build a statewide mentor network, Startup Tennessee will establish Chattanooga as the world’s premier laboratory for startups using gigabit networks, Startup Indiana will work through university alumni networks to “welcome home” far-flung entrepreneurs, and Startup Colorado will grow its Startup Summer internship program for local undergrads. And just a few blocks from the White House, Startup DC launched a new startup campus focused on entrepreneurs tackling America’s biggest challenges in education, health, energy, and national security.

After two busy and fruitful years for Startup America, we look forward to working together with universities, community colleges, companies large and small, and innovative Americans across the country to fuel entrepreneurial success.

Check out our Progress Report, stay tuned, and send us your feedback on how to make Startup America even more successful.

 

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation and Doug Rand is a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
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