Kauffman Foundation leads coalition to jumpstart flat startup growth

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 138 views 

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, in collaboration with over a dozen entrepreneurship advocacy groups, is launching a coalition called “Start Us Up” to address the flat growth of industry over the past two decades.

The Kauffman-backed coalition is also releasing a policy plan called “America’s New Business Plan” to provide policymakers at the local, state, and federal level a bipartisan roadmap for reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and spurring more startups across the country to create new jobs as a potential recession looms large.

“America’s economy is out of balance. We’ve got businesses that have become too entrenched and powerful, while people and communities across America are being left behind,” said Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. “There’s a solution. Supporting and expanding entrepreneurship increases jobs, innovation, and productivity.”

The foundation, which has supported Little Rock’s 1 Million Cups program and other entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas, noted that American entrepreneurship and the rate of new businesses have remained essentially flat for nearly 20 years — a troubling trend due in part to women, people of color, and rural residents facing barriers when it comes to starting a new business.

A misguided focus by policymakers has prioritized support for entrenched, large businesses over young, scrappy businesses, the foundation states, even though entrepreneurs — not big businesses — are responsible for almost all net new job creation.

“While there is a lot of partisan conflict among policymakers today, entrepreneurship is an area we should all agree on,” said former Kansas City Mayor Sly James. “Everyone wants to create new jobs. This is the path for getting there.”

America’s New Business Plan outlines four core categories of support that are needed yet are often denied to — or don’t exist for — entrepreneurs, especially women, people of color, and rural residents.

  • Opportunity: A level playing field and less red tape
  • Funding: Equal access to the right kind of capital everywhere
  • Knowledge: The know-how to start a business
  • Support: The ability for all to take risks

The plan also outlines a mix of straightforward steps alongside more ambitious things policymakers can do to strengthen access to entrepreneurship, including:

  • Creating a single checklist of everything entrepreneurs need to do from a regulatory perspective to start a new business;
  • Reforming immigration policy to establish a startup visa that authorizes foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses in the U.S.;
  • Expanding access to capital; and
  • Providing a stronger safety net that includes things like more affordable health care options and student loan relief

To learn more about America’s New Business plan, click here.

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