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New Decade New Hope

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

Now that I have stopped writing 2009 on checks and other documents, I feel ready to reflect on the New Year, and new decade. Mercifully, the passing of last year capped a decade marked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, intelligence failings that led to an intractable war, a disputed presidential election decided by a controversial supreme court decision,  and a global financial meltdown that is still wreaking havoc.

Despite these daunting challenges of the past decade, I am hopeful for the future. I am hopeful because I have the good fortune of working at the Kauffman Foundation where we continuously add to the largest collection in the world of research on the economic impact of entrepreneurship.

The undeniable fact of that research is actually quite simple – entrepreneurs are keeping the economy from completely falling off the cliff. In fact, despite these challenging times, entrepreneurs are still starting a new company in this country at a rate of about one per minute – 600,000 annually.

The byproduct of that startup activity is jobs, jobs, and more jobs. As a matter of fact, in the last thirty years, all net job creation in this country has taken place in firms less than five years old. You can read all about it in some of our recent research.

Among entrepreneurs, there is no such ridiculous notion of too big to fail. Quite the contrary, they are scratching their heads wondering why the banks we bailed out are still not pulling their weight in helping the recovery, namely increasing access to credit to young companies – all while paying themselves obscene bonuses. (More on that for another post).  

My hope for this new decade is that our elected officials can start paying attention to the important role entrepreneurs are playing in keeping our economy afloat. We have published all of the justification they need to focus on entrepreneurs – much of which comes from data produced by our government. Let’s hope for this decade, these officials will learn to pay more attention to advancing smart policies that help those that are leading our recovery.

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