Creating a Culture of Entrepreneurship

On Saturday, February 25 our colleague and Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar Amy Wilkinson delivered a speech to the National Governors Association.  As over 50 governors – which also include the highest executives of other U.S. territories – gathered for their annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C., Amy addressed the group on how they could better foster entrepreneurship and innovation in their home state.  At a time when economic growth and a restoration of American competitiveness are hot topics of discussion, Amy’s remarks outlined the practices through which state governments can make those visions a reality.

During the session entitled Creating an Entrepreneurial Culture, Amy discussed 3 overarching elements that should guide policymakers in their efforts to spur entrepreneurial innovation: a focus on people, places, and policies.  In this new age of entrepreneurship, Amy emphasizes four key groups that will spur most future growth: baby boomers, generation Y, foreign-born business owners, and women.  Policymakers would be wise to develop programs that target them specifically.  Also, policymakers should focus on creating “innovation hubs,” which tend to be centered by universities.  Policymakers should seek to encourage the commercialization of faculty innovation in order to benefit the greater community and the American economy.  Here, strong relationships between the public and private sectors are crucial and continued public sector support is a must.  Finally, governments need to focus on better policies that support entrepreneurship.  First, they would be wise to streamline the business registration process and the current tax structure, both of which tend to be obstacles for startups.  Lastly, she recommends creating “mentor matching” programs that will help guide our next generation of entrepreneurs through the wisdom they gain from others.

Amy concluded by highlighting the changing entrepreneurial paradigm in the United States.  She stresses that policymakers need to adapt to this paradigm shift in order to maintain American’s leading position on the innovation frontier.  While it will not be easy, she notes that many places across the country have done this before and thrived.  Now that entrepreneurship and innovation are part of the national conversation, the time for discussion is over.  The time for action is now.

If you would like to view the presentation in its entirety, click here. For a copy of the presentation, you can email Amy and .

Posted by: Brian Gowen

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