Startup America Kickoff Remarks

Speech Date: 
Monday, January 31, 2011
Speech Location: 
Washington, DC
As Prepared For: 
Karen G Mills

Thank you Chairman Goolsbee, Director Sperling and Secretary Locke, and Secretary Chu.

At the SBA, we’ve always been proud to serve not just Main Street, but also small, high-growth firms. We’ve helped firms like Intel and FedEx as they were just starting out back in the 60s and 70s.

And what we’ve learned is this: High-growth firms are a very small part of the small-business community, but they create the lion’s share of net new jobs each year.

These firms come in many forms across all sectors.

That’s why, today, we’re calling on leaders from all sectors and industries to come together to ensure that startups have the tools they need to keep growing and creating jobs.

After all, startups are the ones that drive innovation… They plant the seeds for U.S. competitiveness… And they will put America on a long-term path to prosperity.

In short, startups are the ones “playing offense” on America’s team to “win the future.”

How do we help them keep winning?

First, we need to get more investors off the sidelines and into the game.

In the coming weeks, we’ll announce more details on an Impact Investment Fund. Through it, we’ll drive up to $1 billion into the hands of small firms over the next 5 years. We’ll target underserved communities as well as those in emerging industries like clean energy.

In addition, we’ll support up to $1 billion more for an Early Stage Innovation Fund. This will be targeted at the market gap in early-stage financing between $1 million and $5 million – the Valley of Death that has become too deep and too wide in recent years.

Both of these funds will be built on SBA’s successful, market-based Small Business Investment Company or SBIC program. It operates on a zero-subsidy basis. That’s good news for taxpayers.

But finding capital is only half the battle.

Entrepreneurs and startups need mentoring, too. That’s why we will also launch the Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps, as Secretary Chu just mentioned.

In addition to that effort, we know that America’s veterans also have the leadership skills and potential to be highly successful entrepreneurs.

So we’ll build on existing entrepreneurial education programs for veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs, in partnership with SBA and the Department of Labor, will launch business incubators that offer specialized counseling for veteran-entrepreneurs.

The entire Administration is committed to making sure that when our veterans come home, they can pursue their dreams, drive innovation and create jobs.

Finally, it’s not just about putting more tools in the hands of startups… It’s also about removing barriers that get in their way.

That’s why we were excited when the President announced a government-wide review of rules and regulations, with a special focus on those that might stifle our innovators and small businesses.

As part of Startup America, we will soon roll out an initiative to hear directly from entrepreneurs about how to build an even more supportive environment for helping them turn innovation into jobs.

We are finalizing details for what we’re calling “Empowering Entrepreneurship” roundtables in about 8 cities where we will hear from these businesses first-hand.

We will announce the cities and dates soon, and entrepreneurs who can’t attend in-person will be able to submit ideas online.

Then, with that input combined with the input of our own employees, we’ll create a “to-do list” of things to streamline and simplify.

Overall, we’re very excited about all of the Startup America initiatives, because they’re aimed at helping entrepreneurs do what they do best: drive innovation, increase U.S. competiveness, and create jobs.