What’s Wrong with the new Startup America Program?

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Yesterday President Obama unveiled a new initiative to encourage entrepreneurship in the United States. Dubbed “Startup America,” the goals of this new program are to encourage “high growth” entrepreneurship to increase the number of new jobs added to the economy.

The program brings together people from both the private and public sectors. According to the White House, leaders from the most innovative corporations, universities, and foundations will partner with government to help increase the number of new business start ups.

The program mainly focuses on expanding new businesses related to healthcare/medicine, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, information technology.

As entrepreneur myself, I applaud the President’s effort. But not being involved in any of those industries, I’m a little disappointed. Why not support all entrepreneurs across all industries? Where’s the initiative for women or minority entrepreneurs? According to the Washington Post, it’s businesses owned by women and minorities that are going to fuel job growth in the coming years.

Recent Census Bureau figures show that the number of women and minorities owned businesses is growing. As of 2007, women owned almost one third of all businesses in America, and minorities owned one in five.

Here’s some key statistics from the Center for Women’s Business Research.

  • 10.1 million firms are owned by women (50% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.
  • Three quarters of all women-owned businesses are majority owned by women (51% or more), for a total of 7.2 million firms, employing 7.3 million people, and generating $1.1 trillion in sales.
  • Women-owned firms (50% or more) account for 40% of all privately held firms.

Clearly women entrepreneurs and minorities have a significant impact on our economy.

In order to be a true Startup “America” program, I recommend that the President Obama include all businesses types in this initiative. And here is what I suggest be included as far as benefits.

  1. Provide small business grants and loans for businesses owners who have shown consistency, promise and drive, or who have already made a significant impact in their community.
    Develop mentorship and education programs to assist small business owners in the crucial startup phase.
  2. Scholarship: Reward small business owners for investment in their communities by providing scholarships for extended learning.
  3. Legislation: Pass legislation that is favorable to small businesses owners, opening doors up for business ownership.
  4. Provide tax credits for starting a small business and for small business ownership regardless of whether they hire employees.

These are just a few of my thoughts about what the White House could do to have a “Startup America” program that truly embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship in America.

Small business is the backbone of our country, and its small business that is bringing us out of the depths of recession. Let’s support all startups in America Mr. President, it just makes sense.