Videos & Speeches

We just have come through a divisive and expensive campaign. Hopefully that divisiveness and that expense is a thing of the past, and I come to the floor today-during Global Entrepreneurship Week-to ask my colleagues to now work together to pursue policies that are guaranteed to improve our economy. There have been too many opportunities in the past year to pursue issues and policies that divide us. Now we must come together around something that can unite us-entrepreneurship, innovation, and startup businesses.

The story of America is really a story of entrepreneurs. Our history is filled with examples of determined individuals who risked their livelihoods to pursue ideas they believed could solve problems and improve the quality of life of people around the world. These entrepreneurs built the foundation of the American economy from its earliest days, pushing forward innovative solutions to some of our most complex problems.

They pursued success, and that success built the American economy and the jobs it provides.

Entrepreneurs have continued to be the driving force in the U.S. economic growth and expansion in recent times as well. Data from the Kauffman Foundation shows that between 1980 and 2005, companies less than 5 years old accounted for nearly all new jobs created in the United States. Since 1977-the first year data was collected-new businesses have created an average of three million jobs each year.

At a time when millions of Americans remain out of work and our country is mired in debt, we need to do more to support the entrepreneurs who create American jobs and hold the promise of our growing economy.

Started in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation, Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals. Since its founding, this global week of entrepreneurship has grown to include 129 countries with some 35,000 activities that engage millions of people.

In the United States, more than 1,300 partners are planning events in all 50 States this week. These events allow participants to interact with entrepreneurs and share their passion for innovation and creativity. In my home State of Kansas, 35 events are taking place this week. Last Friday, on November 9, I participated in one of these events at the University of Kansas.

To kick off this week , the University of Kansas Schools of Business, Engineering, and Journalism organized a half-day event to expose students to entrepreneurship as a career path, introduce students to startup companies in the region, and to learn the role of government in enabling entrepreneurship, innovation, and company creation, as well as the importance of our free market economy.

While most of us think first of Silicon Valley as a hotbed of entrepreneurship in our country, entrepreneurs are found everywhere. In Kansas, we have a rich tradition of entrepreneurship. It is a place where innovators have felt free to pursue their ideas, start businesses, and pursue dreams. This tradition includes many stories of risk and reward-of entrepreneurs whose businesses succeeded when others were betting against them.

Kansas's great entrepreneurs include Cleyson Brown, who founded Brown Telephone Company-now the Sprint Corporation-in the town of Abilene, KS; Walter Chrysler, of Chrysler Corporation, who began his career as a machinist in Ellis, KS; Clyde Cessna, who left the booming automobile industry to explore exciting fields in aviation. He founded Cessna Aircraft Corporation in Wichita in 1927; and, Dan and Frank Carney, who borrowed $600 from their mother to open their first Pizza Hut in Wichita in 1958.

With persistence and hard work, these entrepreneurs and their businesses created thousands of jobs and grew into some of the world's most successful companies. Now a new generation of Kansas entrepreneurs is continuing that tradition.

In Atwood, KS, a small town in northwest Kansas SureFire Ag Systems has built products that specialize in the control and application of fertilizer, seed, and chemicals. These products have been delivered to customers in 42 of our States and internationally as well.

In Leewood a company called Instin reimagined how students and teachers managed homework assignments by using mobile apps. Their app, myHomework, has been downloaded over 100,000 times in the Google Play Store alone.

In Olathe, Lantern Software is connecting homegrown businesses to new markets through high-value, real-time, location-based deals delivered on mobile devices. In today's high-tech economy, the future of Internet-based applications like these is limitless, which is why Kansas entrepreneurs are excited about Google's decision to make Kansas home to a new fiber project.

Google Fiber is equipping Kansas entrepreneurs with tools for innovation that few places in the United States have. With Google Fiber, Kansans now have an opportunity to innovate on Google's ultra high-speed network, which is 100 times faster than typical high-speed Internet.

Kansas City, which has set the goal of becoming America's Most Entrepreneurial City, is building what they call a Digital Sandbox, in partnership with many Kansas businesses. The goal of the Digital Sandbox is to significantly accelerate the development of information technology startups in Kansas City, where IT is already a major economic engine. These developments are empowering the next generation of Kansas entrepreneurs with the tools to innovate and build successful businesses.

Today's entrepreneurs may use different technology to develop products and reach potential markets than their predecessors, but the work ethic and the passion to do something new remains the same. This week, I encourage my colleagues to explore the impact of entrepreneurship in their communities and to engage with startup companies working to make the lives of Americans better.

I met with entrepreneurs in Kansas and across the country during the last 18 months. The passion and creativity of these entrepreneurs has encouraged me. One refreshing observation is that these entrepreneurs, while competitive, want to see their fellow entrepreneurs succeed. They are also building new tools that empower others to make their businesses better.

But in conversation after conversation, I also have learned there are common challenges these entrepreneurs face-some of which can be solved by Congress if we follow the entrepreneur's example of seizing an opportunity, rolling up our sleeves, and working together. Entrepreneurs in America are finding it increasingly difficult to start a business and to grow that business. Consider the following:

In 2010, there were approximately 394,000 new businesses started in the United States. This, unfortunately, is the lowest number of new businesses since 1977. While new businesses created more than 2.3 million jobs, that number is well below historical averages and represents the third fewest number of jobs created by new businesses in more than 30 years. At the same time, at least seven other countries during this Congress have approved legislation to welcome and better support entrepreneurs while America has done nothing.

To help more entrepreneurs start a business and to help those new businesses grow more quickly, I introduced Startup Act 2.0 with my colleagues Senator Warner, Senator Coons, and Senator Rubio. Startup Act 2.0 addresses critical needs facing entrepreneurs today. The legislation provides new opportunities for highly educated and entrepreneurial immigrants to stay in the United States where their talent can fuel economic growth and create jobs for Americans. By making new visas available for foreign students who graduate with an advanced degree in a STEM field from an American university, Startup Act 2.0 will provide a much needed way for fast-growing startups and businesses in America to get the talent they need to continue to grow and to create jobs. This is a critical and growing challenge.

The Partnership for a New American Economy projects that the United States will face a shortfall of more than 223,000 workers with advanced degrees in STEM areas by 2018. If the current trend holds, there will only be 550,000 American workers with the needed skills-far short of the projected demand. Without these workers, American businesses will be at a distinct disadvantage and unable to grow in our country.

Startup Act 2.0 makes the changes to the Tax Code that will help startups grow and create jobs. By exempting capital gains taxes on investments held by startups for 5 years or more, the bill would unlock $7.5 billion in new investments in startup. The legislation will also help universities bring good ideas to market by redirecting current grant dollars to support innovative university initiatives to accelerate commercialization.

Finally, Startup Act 2.0 will make changes to the Federal regulatory process so that the costs of new regulations do not outweigh the benefits and will encourage State and local policy makers to make certain that its easier starting businesses in their States.

As our economy continues to struggle, Congress is left with two options: We can remain in gridlock, maintain the status quo, continue to leave Americans under- and unemployed, and spend away our future or we can work together to support the American entrepreneur and businessperson.

This week, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, I urge my colleagues to join in the latter-in coming together behind commonsense legislation such as the Startup Act 2.0 to unleash the power of entrepreneurship in America. The result will be more new businesses, more new jobs, innovation that allows the United States to aggressively compete in a global economy, and the empowerment of every American to pursue the American Dream.