Newly filed legislation in Missouri would give a boost to Show-Me State entrepreneurs — or at least spark a robust conversation about how policy can support new business and hiring growth, said Travis Fitzwater.
“Missourians have a right to start a company and the state should be encouraging that behavior,” said state Rep. Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, who introduced the Right to Start bill [HB 1202]. “I filed a bill to make it easier for entrepreneurs to take the leap.”
Click here to explore the text of the Right to Start legislation. The House economic development committee held a hearing on HB 1202 Thursday morning. Another hearing is set for 2 p.m. Monday.
The Jefferson City-area lawmaker took to Twitter to describe details of the bill aimed at making Missouri a more attractive home for innovation, he said.
“We ban non-compete agreements in this legislation. Silicon Valley became a massive tech innovation space in large part because California stopped recognizing non-compete agreements, which allowed mobility for entrepreneurs who made our world’s leading technology,” Fitzwater said.
“We should be committed to the same level of innovation for our state’s entrepreneurs,” he continued, saying non-compete agreements stifle innovation.
Fitzwater — who founded Fitz Media Productions in 2008 — serves as vice-chairman of the House workforce development committee, as well as sitting on economic development, legislative oversight and special innovation and technology committees.
A four-term state lawmaker, he previously championed popular STEM and computer science legislation that ultimately was vetoed, reworked and later signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson. (That advocacy helped make Fitzwater a finalist for the KC Tech Council’s 2019 Tech Champion of the Year award.)
His Right to Start bill would establish a state Office of Entrepreneurship to help oversee efforts aimed at jumpstarting workforce readiness.
“Over the last 30 years, all net new jobs have come from new businesses,” Fitzwater said. “For our economy to thrive and be the dynamic climate we expect in America, we need more risk takers to start businesses. The state should take a lead in having that conversation.”
Fitzwater thanked the Victor Hwang-led Right to Start movement, advocates at NEXT Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development for helping inspire the legislation.
— Victor W. Hwang (@rainforestbook) March 4, 2021
In a tweet praising Fitzwater’s leadership, Hwang described the bill as a comprehensive law to boost entrepreneurs statewide, including lending, taxes, economic development, and government contracts.
Details of the bill dovetail with the Right to Start organization’s “5% to Start” initiative.
Click here to read Victor Hwang’s recent call to action.
“There’s a requirement that 5 percent of Missouri’s state contracts go to businesses that are 5 years old or younger,” said Fitzwater. “This pushes more dollars to our states’ startups and entrepreneurs instead of only to companies who know how to win state contracts.”
The state’s Department of Economic Development currently supports entrepreneurs and startups largely through the Missouri Technology Corporation. While the popular public-private partnership program has seen reduced funding over the past five years, it still powers IDEA Fund co-investment efforts that offer qualifying startups up to $500,000 in matching funds.
Click here to read more about the IDEA Fund co-investment program.