David Miller
by David Miller
Wed Nov 19th 2008 at 12:59pm UTC

The Visible Hand, U.S. Entrepreneurship, and Education

As we sit and watch the crisis in global capitalism, it’s obvious that governments are sticking their hands deep into the global economy and various national economies. The U.S. government is taking stakes in major financial and insurance firms, becoming partners (in all likelihood) with Detroit, planning major stimulus packages, bailing out over-leveraged homeowners, and planning increased/new regulations on everything from CAFE standards to 401K management.

For entrepreneurs, the landscape has shifted dramatically. Entrepreneurs and venture investors and lenders are unlikely to get much support from policy makers and elected representatives as those political types look to support/consolidate their power through their new corporate partners and other bailout recipients. In fact, policy actions, from bailouts to government/corporate ties, will likely hurt entrepreneurs going forward. The irony, of course, is that growth and innovation will come from new and growing firms, not badly damaged and slimmed down corporations, unions, and low-income homeowners.

Unfortunately, a new report on entrepreneurship in the U.S. from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor was released this week and it is not very sunny. The report is full of interesting information information (yes, the U.S. still exhibits high rates of entrepreneurship, albeit slowing) and for the first time GEM has looked into minority entrepreneurship in the U.S. The report is worth checking out.

One way of ensuring that the entrepreneur is kept at the center of our economy is by supporting entrepreneurship education. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a positive, future-oriented event on Capitol Hill presented by the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group. (A negative, old economy event was also occurring as the Big 3 and their cronies were on the Hill asking for $$$.)

The YES Group, led by the Aspen Institute and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, presented a new policy paper/action guide on entrepreneurship education for policy makers. They also convened a great panel discussion with education committee staff from the Senate and House and  introduced some great young entrepreneurs from low-income areas in the U.S. who highlighted what a difference entrepreneurship education can make in the lives of at-risk youths.

The YES Group sees entrepreneurship education as a key to solving the costly high school drop-out crisis in the U.S. and also creating a generation of entrepreneurs to spur the U.S. economy and lower poverty rates. The most interesting thing I heard was that out of the millions of students in HS and junior high in the U.S., only a small percentage have access to any entrepreneurship/financial education. Only nine states have formal legislation that promotes entrepreneurship education.

So while we have this rising tide of government intervention in the economy, let’s ensure that we support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education. Only entrepreneurs can ensure the long-term growth of our economy.

BTW, for a little Canadian flavor, check out the VeloCity Residence at the University of Waterloo. The residence hall is a web/mobile media incubator for entrepreneurially minded students. I recently exchanged emails with one of their first residents and they have some great things going on. It is a great model for entrepreneurship education at the post-secondary level.

3 Responses to “The Visible Hand, U.S. Entrepreneurship, and Education”

  1. Michael Wells Says:

    Entrepreneurship training is a start. Investment in education, research (both academic and corporate) and loosening credit are other things that would help entrepreneurs.

    Financial education is vital, not only for entrepreneurs but everybody. When health insurance & retirement were taken care of by employers, mortgages were just deciding time and interest rates, credit was based on income, most people didn’t have investments and so forth — like the from the 50’s to 80’s, the average person could afford to not understand finances. Today you’re vulnerable, the choices are confusing and the safety net is frayed.

    I’m not so worried about government investment in corporations as an idea, but am deeply worried about it being done incompetently or to line the pockets of the Old Economy companies and administration cronies. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bushies stealing the doorknobs before they leave the building. Not the political mischief that Clintonistas were accused of, but straight pillage of natural resources, the treasury and anything that’s not nailed down.

  2. Peter Kao Says:

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the mention about Velocity.

    Currently, I’m a resident at Velocity and had just participated in our end-of-term Velocity Exhibition. We had a great turnout. There were a few investors roaming around and giving their inputs on various projects.

    It is initiatives such as Velocity that educate and inspire young adults to build their own legacy, instead of working at one.

    Peter Kao

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