In the News

Kansas City Business Journal
By Leslie Collins

The Startup Act has been reintroduced by a bipartisan group of four U.S. senators, including Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). A number of the key initiatives are based on research and ideas proposed around 2011 by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Following the recession, the foundation released a series of recommendations for how federal policy makers could jump-start economic growth and foster more job creation, said Jason Wiens, a policy director at the Kauffman Foundation. All of the suggestions revolve around reducing barriers to entrepreneurship.

"If we want new job creation and economic growth, we need to focus on entrepreneurship," he said.

Wiens cited Kauffman Foundation research which found that companies less than five years old create nearly all of the nation's net new jobs. However, there's still a startup deficit, in which the number of entrepreneurs starting a business has consistently declined, he said. But if the Startup Act is put into law, it could start help turn the startup deficit around.

The bill includes action items, such as requiring every government agency to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed "significant rules" with an economic impact of $100 million or more. The requirement would help determine if a new regulation would produce the desired outcome and how it would affect business growth and starting new businesses.

The bill also calls for using existing federal research and development funding to support university initiatives to expedite the commercialization of cutting-edge research. Making it easier to commercialize technologies developed at universities is one of the recommendations the foundation had years ago. Those technologies can become the base for new companies, which in turn spurs economic growth, he said.

Another key piece of the bill deals with creating a limited entrepreneurial visa for 75,000 legal immigrants and creating a limited STEM (science, technology, education and math) visa for 50,000 U.S.-educated foreign students who graduate with a master's or doctorate in a STEM field. Both initiatives are aimed at keeping talent in the U.S. to foster innovation and launch businesses; they also draw inspiration from the foundation's previous recommendations to policymakers.

Immigrants skew toward entrepreneurship and are starting businesses at twice the rate of native-born Americans, he said. Entrepreneurship isn't a solo venture; it takes a team, and each member brings a unique experience and skill set needed to help the company succeed, he added.

"You need talented people, regardless of whether they're American citizens or not, to be able to help you grow and start companies."

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