By John Fernandez, former mayor of Bloomington, Ind., and assistant secretary for Economic Development at the Commerce Department.
Our investments generate real results. For every dollar we’ve invested, the average return to the taxpayer has been almost $7. That’s what the American people want - a government that seizes opportunities and uses tax money prudently.
The agency’s smart investments help to grow local economic ecosystems. We know that development happens from the bottom up, and that the best ideas come from America’s communities. That is why promoting American innovation and entrepreneurship is so vital to our long-term economic recovery.
Entrepreneurship is at the heart of the American dream - if you have a good idea and work hard, you will succeed. Entrepreneurs create startups and turn their vision into products and services that keep the nation strong and globally competitive. The small businesses they create bring an unparalleled wealth of transformative ideas to market. From the airplane to the automobile to Amazon.com to Google to Apple - these innovations have sparked economic growth and dramatically changed our lives over the last three decades.
Today, entrepreneurs are tackling the nation’s challenges in clean energy, medicine, national security and other fields. Supporting a culture that is conducive to entrepreneurship and small business development is a primary focus of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which just released a report that outlines a series of proposals to accelerate job creation and rebuild America’s competitiveness. One of the recommendations is to nurture startups and empower the small businesses that are creating the jobs and industries of the future.
Recently, EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship collaborated with other federal agencies on the $12 million i6 Green Challenge, which rewarded six innovative projects that leverage proof of concept center methodology to spur innovation in green technologies. The competition is part of President Obama's Startup America initiative to encourage investment in new startups and small businesses to help them grow, hire and prosper. The Washington Clean Energy Partnership project in Washington State received $1 million to help position the region to expand the clean energy sector and capitalize on the multi-billion dollar domestic and international market. The project is expected to create 2,000 new jobs.
The administration is also partnering with the private sector to ignite entrepreneurship and get the economy back on track. Steve Case, a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, is chairman of the Startup America Partnership, an independent alliance of entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations and other leaders. They leverage their resources to facilitate access to services, connect entrepreneurs with venture capitalists, angel investors, mentors and provide opportunities for training and development.
Working together, the public and private sectors can help the millions of entrepreneurs and small businesses that power the engine of our economy.
I’ve traveled extensively these last few years, and almost every community I’ve visited is trying to reinvent itself in some way. They’re looking for new industries, new businesses and new drivers of job creation. The U.S. Economic Development Administration will continue to be a reliable partner to help communities achieve these economic goals.
John Fernandez, a former mayor of Bloomington, Ind., is assistant secretary for Economic Development at the Commerce Department. He heads the Economic Development Administration.