Women, people of color, and rural residents remain punished by systemic barriers to starting businesses, said Wendy Guillies in a nationwide call to action that unites powerful Kansas City entrepreneurism advocates.
“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 Guillies, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “There’s a solution. Supporting and expanding entrepreneurship increases jobs, innovation, and productivity.”
American entrepreneurship and the rate of new businesses have remained essentially flat for nearly 20 years, according to the Kauffman Foundation, which tracks entrepreneurship data.
A coalition called Start Us Up — led by collaborators at Kauffman and the Enterprise Center in Johnson County (ECJC), as well as more than a dozen entrepreneurship advocacy groups — is releasing 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.
“A misguided focus by policymakers has prioritized support for entrenched, large business over young, scrappy businesses,” a press release from members of the coalition read. “Most recently, Missouri policymakers offered $2.4 billion in incentives for Amazon’s HQ2, despite the fact that entrepreneurs — not big businesses — are responsible for almost all new net job creation.”
America’s New Business Plan outlines four core categories of support that are needed yet are too often denied to — or don’t exist for — entrepreneurs, especially women, people of color, and rural residents, according to Start Us Up.
- 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
“Too many policymakers are taking America’s entrepreneurs for granted,” said Patty Markley, ECJC vice president of policy and strategic development. “We need to prioritize the needs of new and small business owners and ensure they have the tools and capital needed to succeed.”
The plan outlines a mix of straightforward steps alongside more ambitious actions policymakers can take 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.
“As policymakers debate taxes and tariffs, entrepreneurship remains America’s true economic engine and an area we can all agree on,” said Guillies. “Policymakers can support entrepreneurs in creating an economy that promotes diversity, competition, and innovation where new ideas can take root.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.