Q: When I watch these so-called "civil servants" in Washington talk about the economy and creating jobs and whose fault it is and so on, I am reminded of that old joke — everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. So what I am wondering is, is there really anything that can be done in this negative political climate? — Jill
(Part 2 of 2)
Q: In my column last week, while lamenting the sad state of political affairs in this country (it really does seem they are fiddling while Rome burns, does it not?), I shared that I have found at least one silver lining: Individual initiative is on the rise. The political and economic situations are such that they are inspiring more and more people to come up with personal and joint creative solutions to the problems we face as a country.
It's not surprising, really. This is a country founded upon the ideas of individual liberty and freedom of expression. It is no wonder that entrepreneurship thrives here. My personal hero is a man named Buckminster Fuller (an inventor, mathematician, poet and more) and he put it this way, relating a conversation he had with himself at a low point in his life:
"I said, 'What can a little man effect . . . in the face of the formidable power of great corporations, great states, and all their knowhow, guns, monies, armies, tools and information?' Then, self-answering: 'The individual can take iniatives without anybody's permission.' "
Last week, we looked at how the Clinton Global Initiative America is making just such a difference by encouraging its members to make specific commitments to getting the country back to work by creating jobs, starting business, and more.
This week, I would like to share another organization that is doing similar, albeit different, work: Startup America. Launched in January of 2011 as a White House initiative to "celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation" (Whitehouse.org), Startup America brings together entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations and other stakeholders to "fuel innovative, high-growth U.S. startups. The Startup America Partnership is based on a simple premise: young companies that grow, create jobs. As a core American value, entrepreneurship is critical to the country's long term success and it's time to step up our game."
And step up their game they have.
In a little more than a year, the Partnership (now an independent, private 501(c)(3) that gets no government funding) has gotten more than $1 billion in business service commitments from corporations, foundations and individuals that is being offered to a growing network of startup companies; companies that are going to put America back to work. These commitments include expertise and mentoring, access to vital services, assistance with training, connections to thought leaders, help with building a customer base, and aid with getting access to capital.
Once a startup applies and joins the Startup America network, they access and mange their resources through an online dashboard and regional Startup America support and mentors.