Introducing ‘Startup Day Across America’

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As two former small-business owners in Congress, we have watched closely and worked hard to support the new pockets of innovation and entrepreneurship that have been sprouting up across the country.

No longer limited to Silicon Valley or Boulder, Colo., the startup scene has been thriving in small towns and large cities, red states and blue states, and in industries from technology to food service. Where there once were factories and assembly lines, there are now incubators and accelerators, and business plan competitions. American ingenuity is being reinvented, as it has time and time again throughout our history. Our greatest innovators are proving that there is no country in the world that can match us at turning dreams and ideas into today’s startups and tomorrow’s Google or Facebook.

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While great ideas are the foundation of startups, they require support from communities, educational institutions, venture capital firms and others to grow. That is why we, along with dozens of our colleagues, founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Through this caucus, we strive to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, remove barriers to job creation, drive our economy forward, and ensure that America continues to be where the world turns for the best ideas and products.

One of our biggest accomplishments is establishing the first ever “Startup Day Across America,” taking place this year on Aug. 5. This is a day for Republican and Democratic members alike to see firsthand how startups are revitalizing communities and the economy through interaction with startups in their district.

By participating in Startup Day, members will raise awareness of the tremendous impact these fledgling companies can have throughout the country and highlight their local innovation economy in each district. They also will provide local entrepreneurs with an opportunity to engage with and educate their representatives about the challenges they are facing and how federal policy can be more supportive of their efforts. After all, if we continue to use startups for the model of the modern American economy, we need to ensure they have our ear in good times and bad.

Startup Day events will bring attention to the remarkable job-creation potential of startups, including an average growth of 2 million jobs in the United States each year since 2008. At a time when many large corporations are still hedging their hiring practices, startups are hiring at an unprecedented rate. According to a 2013 Kauffman Foundation report, startups — particularly companies younger than 
3 years old — are responsible for the majority of the net new jobs in the United States. In particular, small and young high-tech startups and information and communications technology firms outpace other startups in terms of fueling local and national economic growth.

Despite the increasing evidence, both anecdotal and empirical, that startups are vital to our country’s economic and job growth, many members of our communities do not know these innovative companies exist, while many startup companies themselves may not know how or where to access available resources to help their company succeed. We aim to shine the spotlight on startups, bringing them attention and helping them learn about best practices for engaging and maximizing their local communities and government officials.

As our nation’s economic success continues to rely on innovation, entrepreneurs and small-business owners are in the best position to evolve and adapt. They are popping up in places where they are least expected, reinvigorating cities and towns from coast to coast. They not only bring high-paying jobs, but also bring excitement and hope for the future.

We urge our colleagues to join us in celebrating, recognizing and encouraging those who are putting everything they have into building a new idea from the ground up. And, you never know, maybe one of us will visit the next Bill Gates, working from his garage, fidgeting with the invention of tomorrow that will change the world for the better.   

Issa has represented California’s 49th Congressional District since 2001. He is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and sits on the Judiciary Committee. Polis has represented Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Education and the Workforce, and the Rules committees.