[Editor’s Note: This bipartisan guest commentary was written for GeekWire by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington, and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas.]
One of our nation’s greatest strengths is the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. Throughout our history, Americans from all walks of life have always strived to turn their ideas and dreams into thriving businesses, making significant contributions to the economy along the way. Today, we see startups across the country making a real difference in the lives of Americans everywhere.
On August 1, we will celebrate Startup Day Across America, a bipartisan effort to raise awareness for the job creation and entrepreneurial activity of startups across the country. Members of Congress will visit startups to learn about and highlight their contributions in their communities. We will have the opportunity to speak with employees and founders of these companies to discuss their stories and learn how Congress can help them grow their businesses and the economy as a whole.
Our nation’s future lies with startups. New businesses are crucial contributors to the American economy, both in terms of job creation and innovation. Since 1992, businesses younger than one-year-old have accounted for 20 percent of all job growth in the United States, creating 2 million jobs a year. In 2015 alone, startups represented 60 percent of total employment growth, creating 1.7 million jobs. Recent advancements in internet technology, such as big data and cloud storage, have enabled startups to grow at an incredible rate. Companies like Lyft and Facebook, once just ideas spearheaded by a few innovators, are now ubiquitous in the American mind.
However, startups aren’t just in the technology industry, but include diverse sectors such as entertainment, healthcare, retail, consulting and education. With the rise of the internet and e-commerce, any entrepreneur can now have a worldwide impact, reaching up to 3 billion global consumers. While they might be small, these businesses are by no means insignificant, and their impact reaches all of our communities and beyond.
It is critical that we invest in startups, because doing so means investing in America’s future. In Congress, we can support our startups by ensuring an environment where citizens have the freedom to innovate and dream. It is our job to create an environment that extends these opportunities to all, fostering competition to allow ground-breaking ideas and products to come to light. Specifically, we can look to reduce barriers, making it easier for innovators to turn their ideas into reality.
Startup Day Across America aims to put the spotlight on the various startups in our country that have become the driving force of our economy during the past few decades. We hope this day will be used to not only increase awareness of startups but to initiate a conversation about how to allow our best innovators to succeed. These entrepreneurs need to know they have the support of their policymakers. Their recent successes are highly encouraging, and the entire country benefits when they have the tools they need to succeed.
Congressman Blake Farenthold represents the 27th Congressional district of Texas. Farenthold is completing his fourth term in Congress, where he’s fought for a smaller and less costly government, defended our Second Amendment rights and put border security as a top priority.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene represents Washington First Congressional District, which spans from northeast King County to the Canadian border, and includes parts of King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. DelBene brings a unique voice to the nation’s capital, with more than two decades of experience as a successful technology entrepreneur and business leader.