Miller Center Report Seeks to Unleash Job-Creating Power of Entrepreneurship

January 14, 2015

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center today released a report proposing five innovative, nonpartisan and actionable ideas to help create middle-class jobs by maximizing the resources available to entrepreneurs. The report is the work of the center’s Milstein Symposium Commission on Entrepreneurship and Middle-Class Jobs, led by Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman and CEO of Revolution, and Carly Fiorina, former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

The commission was conducted in partnership with the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at U.Va.’s Darden School of Business.

The report, “Can Startups Save the American Dream?” is available here. An executive summary can be found here.

Ideas proposed in the report focus on expanding access to capital, streamlining cumbersome regulatory processes, enhancing educational opportunities and student exposure to entrepreneurship, and equipping local and state governments and business leaders to build robust community-based entrepreneurial ecosystems.

“Entrepreneurs are the secret sauce of America – building not only iconic companies, but entire industries,” Case said. “Historically, entrepreneurship has also been about creating pathways to the middle class, and helping people attain the American dream. Entrepreneurs must again be at the heart of rebuilding the American economy.”

“Entrepreneurship has always been the great American pastime,” Fiorina said. “But for the first time in our history, more businesses are being destroyed than created, and this has had a profound impact on America’s middle class. The ideas contained in our report will make it easier for Americans to fulfill that fundamental human urge to build a better life.”

Howard P. Milstein, a banker and entrepreneur whose foundation supports the Milstein Symposium, said: “This report delivers ideas designed to ensure that entrepreneurship not only remains at the core of American economic DNA, but also that these opportunities come to Main Street. Capital investment and processes that accelerate business creation and growth are keys to success and will result in new jobs and opportunities for the 21st century. The most powerful force on earth is the private sector of the United States, powered by America’s indomitable creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.”

The report proposes five ideas:

1.   Unlock Capital for Main Street Entrepreneurs. Main Street entrepreneurs often have difficulty accessing the capital necessary to launch, sustain or grow their operations, particularly as the recent recession forced many community banks into consolidation or collapse. By unlocking the Community Reinvestment Act and increasing Community Development Financial Institution investments, Main Street businesses will have access to a critical source of capital.

2.   Accelerate Impact Investing through PRIs. Impact investing supports new and innovative models for confronting the great social challenges of our time. However, with investors yet to participate, it is essential to utilize all available sources of capital. By revising regulations governing program-related investments, or PRIs – grants that involve the potential return of capital – and expanding their awareness among foundations and entrepreneurs, the startup community may accelerate impact investing and push it from the periphery to the mainstream.

3.   National Contests: Empower the Next Generation of Entrepreneurial Leaders, A vibrant entrepreneurial society is predicated on an awareness of the opportunities entrepreneurship provides, the encouragement to pursue them and the skills to launch and grow one’s own venture. By creating a national entrepreneurial competition for students at the K-12 level, students will be exposed to entrepreneurial thinking and opportunities before they begin their career path.

4.   Equip Civic Leaders to Build Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Entrepreneurial clusters have the power to transform communities and boost local and regional economies. However, civic leaders often do not have the tools or knowledge necessary to cultivate a productive entrepreneurial system. A plug-and-play “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem-in-a-Box” concept combines the latest research with the unique qualities of local communities to provide playbooks for civic leaders to build their own vibrant entrepreneurial clusters.

5.   Build a Regulatory Roadmap. Today’s regulatory environment imposes costly burdens on existing business and serves as a barrier to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Small Business Administration has estimated that small businesses pay 36 percent more in regulatory compliance costs than large businesses. A proposed roadmap will help new and emerging businesses navigate the regulatory landscape. In addition, it will encourage local, state and federal regulators to offer better customer service to businesses, and help civic leaders to compete on behalf of their communities as top places to do business.

In addition to Case and Fiorina, members of the Milstein Commission on Entrepreneurship and Middle-Class Jobs include:

  • Ross Baird, executive director, Village Capital
  • Aaron “Ronnie” Chatterji, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; former senior economist, White House Council of Economic Advisers
  • Amy Cosper, vice president and editor-in-chief, Entrepreneur magazine
  • James Douglas, former governor of Vermont, 2003-11
  • Maya MacGuineas, president, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
  • Jen Medbery, founder and CEO, Kickboard
  • Brian Meece, CEO, RocketHub
  • Lenny Mendonca, entrepreneur and director emeritus, McKinsey & Company
  • Karen Mills, senior fellow, Harvard Business School; former administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Warren Thompson, president and chairman, Thompson Hospitality Corporation.

Sean D. Carr and Michael Lenox, both of Darden’s Batten Institute, served as lead scholars of the commission.

The effort is part of the “Milstein Symposium: Ideas for a New American Century,” an initiative that is bringing together policymakers, business leaders, scholars and journalists to define and advance ideas and policies to help create middle-class jobs and help rebuild the American Dream. In the symposium’s first year, separate commissions are studying job creation in three areas: entrepreneurship, manufacturing and infrastructure investment.

Support for the Milstein Symposium is provided through the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation and Emigrant Bank.

More information is available here.

Media Contact

Kim Curtis

Miller Center

Kristy Schantz

Miller Center