How to “Startup America”

– Daniel Isenberg is Professor of Management Practice at Babson Global and founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project. Dr. Isenberg has been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, consultant, and educator, having taught at Harvard, Columbia, Technion, INSEAD, and Reykjavik. –

The White House recently convened an unprecedented consortium of public and private entities to announce the launch of Startup America. The purpose was to galvanize a coordinated effort to define and implement President Obama’s vision and strategy to foster entrepreneurship and provide more push to the United States’ economic development.

Startup America has a lot going for it: a broad group of influential entrepreneurship stakeholders, real entrepreneurs at the heart of the dialogue, a sincerely committed president and an independent convening S.W.A.T. team who are making entrepreneurship a top priority and a powerful, well-connected, smart board with a smart-looking interim CEO. In my book, Startup America has gotten the basics right; I don’t take this lightly – my observations of more than two dozen countries is that very few have done even this.

But like most entrepreneurial ventures driven by ambition and a strong sense of purpose, this one has a very long way to go. As plan and reality diverge, like most startups, Startup America will need to revise its business model, change or enhance its leadership, and deal with disappointments, and an ever-changing landscape.

So the launch on January 31, 2011 was just the opening shot: to turn this initiative into real results, a lot more has to happen. Here are a few suggestions:

Obama should help small business, but not too much

P. Griffith Lindell is a veteran business consultant, speaker and author. His newest book is “Struggling With Your Business? Ten Questions to Consider Before Investing A(nother) Dime“. The views expressed are his own. –

President Obama focused part of his State of the Union address on the need for “government (to) create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand.” I applaud and agree with him. The lifeblood of America must flow through micro and small-business veins.

It’s going to take more than political pronouncements, however, to produce the revenues and profits that will change the rules of the current economic game.

Community lenders get a mini bailout

Timothy Geithner It’s considerably less than the multi-billion bailout the commercial banking sector received as part of President Obama’s Recovery Act legislation, but battered community banking institutions will gladly take it.

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner pledged $90 million to help 59 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in 26 states and Puerto Rico. CDFIs help companies, including many small businesses, in economically distressed urban, rural, and Native communities.

Geithner’s announcement comes on the heels of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech that called for help for CDFIs at the Global Financial Literacy Summit in Washington, DC two weeks prior. Bernanke said, “while community development is a small part of our overall capital and credit markets, the Federal Reserve recognizes that these financial flows are critically important for many low- and moderate-income communities.”