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State of Entrepreneurship Address: All of the Above

Thom Ruhe

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about President Obama's State of the Union Speech. I observed that entrepreneurial vision was lacking and I wish he had used the occasion to revive bipartisan support for an entrepreneurial agenda that could have given both parties things to support.

As has been our tradition, now in its fifth year, we presented our own State of Entrepreneurship Address at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. This year's program featured opening remarks from Kauffman's CEO Tom McDonnell. Tom highlighted some points from the paper we issued for the occasion: Toward America's New Entrepreneurial Growth Agenda.SOE_Tom

The second half of the program was a novel approach to a panel discussion with one group identified as “Washington Wonks” pitching their ideas for stimulating the entrepreneurial sector of the economy and another group identified as “Policy Pundits” challenged the validity and practicality of their proposals. To add a little twist of crowdsourcing, people watching the panel in person or via the live webcast were asked to vote on which of the three proposed ideas had the most merit.

The “Wonks” and their respective ideas were:

Donald Marron, director of Economic Policy Initiatives at the Urban Institute who postulated immigration reform from immigrant entrepreneur visas in “Welcoming Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs: The Startup Visa”.

Will Marshall, founder and president of Progressive Policy Institute, suggested regulatory pruning of anachronistic policies that no longer serve their purpose and are impeding entrepreneurial growth in “Protecting the Environment for Innovation: A Regulatory Improvement Commission”.SOE_PolicyPundits

Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View columnist and author of The Up Side of Down, proffered a unique back-to-work (employer tax incentive) program for the chronically unemployed in “Back-to-Work Program Through Payroll Tax Exemptions”.

The “Pundits” dutifully challenged the practicality of each idea and split their support across all three ideas.

In the end, the crowdsourced votes favored Ms. McArdle’s idea with a majority 58 percent; but from where I sat, I believe all three ideas were brilliant and worthy of exploration.

Now, if only we could find a way for the real Policy Pundits, the elected ones, to consider these truly forward thinking ideas, we might actually have more to talk about than hypothetical great ideas or the apocryphal “accomplishments” they have made over the last decade.


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