Entrepreneurship: The Key to a New Era of American Growth and Opportunity

feb wiensEvery four years, Americans engage in a great national debate about the future of our country. Candidates for highest office offer their visions of what the United States can be and roadmaps for how we get there.

Or at least that is the hope and ideal to which we aspire.

Now in the midst of that great season of debate, entrepreneurship merits a central place in the discussion.

Entrepreneurs are known to be the primary source of net new job creation. Their innovations challenge existing firms to improve and contribute to economic dynamism, which results in a faster growing economy that provides greater opportunities for upward mobility.

The entrepreneurial creation of new products, systems, and processes breeds new efficiencies. New businesses are also especially important when it comes to the job prospects of young workers. Young companies employ younger workers more than older firms and these workers enjoy higher incomes.

On top of all of this, experienced entrepreneurs often act as mentors to aspiring business owners, creating a reinforcing loop of inspiration and instruction that generates more of the new ideas our economy needs to grow.

Simply put, entrepreneurship is an engine of economic growth that creates opportunities for economic independence. 

Yet, this invaluable source of economic betterment is troubled. New business creation has not kept pace with working age population growth. Businesses that do start are hiring fewer employees than in the past.

We can no longer afford for entrepreneurship to be treated as a policy afterthought. Without entrepreneurship, solving America’s most challenging issues will become far more difficult.

This week, the Kauffman Foundation will make an important contribution to the debate about growth, job creation, and economic opportunity when it releases its New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda. Two years in the making, the New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda contains fresh ideas and thinking from some of the nation’s top economists and researchers about how to renew broad-based economic growth through entrepreneurship.

As a further contribution to policy discussions and debate occurring in this election year, I’ll write two posts over the next two weeks—one about the sense many Americans have of economic stagnancy, represented in part by slow wage growth; while the other explores ways to reboot government so it can craft better policy.

Though big challenges confront our country, I believe, like the “can-do” entrepreneur, that progress is achievable.

And, just as many businesses are built not by individuals, but by teams, I encourage others to join in this discussion by borrowing from these ideas, building on them, and offering your own suggestions.

America needs to renew entrepreneurial growth. At the Kauffman Foundation, we intend to do our part to make sure that happens.

Chris Jackson, research assistant at the Kauffman Foundation and regular blogger at Growthology, contributed to this post.

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