This post was written by Scott Case on behalf of the Case Foundation:
January 31st marked the two-year anniversary of the Startup America Partnership. And, today, nearly 50 leaders from the 30 Startup Regions will be in Washington to celebrate their success, strategize about challenges, and converse with our partners at the White House and Cabinet agencies. If, as journalist John Gunther said, America was founded on a good idea, then only by securing the future of good ideas will its spirit continue. In the two years since the launch of the Startup America Partnership, I’ve seen that these good ideas are not only prospering, but are prospering across the country.
We already knew that the job growth of past decades was wholly due to new companies — that was the easy part. What we didn’t know is that what makes these companies thrive is unique to each place. Our simple mission — supporting the local startup scene’s development — has grown into a nationwide movement.
One example, Iowa, is among the hottest places for entrepreneurship, beating out cities like LA, New York, and Denver in a recent Kauffman study. The state’s regional champions, inspired by the entrepreneurs they meet every day, are shifting Iowa to be an innovation hub of IT, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.
Our greatest insight is that it is all about these champions. These leaders — almost all serial entrepreneurs themselves — showcase their regions to a larger group of stakeholders. They share their stories of success, growth, and challenges while amplifying their bold, audacious vision for their region’s future.
Startup America Champions are reimagining the high-growth potential of places everywhere in our country. We can already see the difference in cities like DC, Indianapolis, and Nashville, to name a few. For Startup America — “the catalyst for a movement, for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs” according to a recent Kauffman study — visible, local networks are key.
We supported this rising tide idea with high hopes that founders would foster their own communities, connecting to resources hidden under an outdated image of place. And connect they have, with one another and with Startup America board members, sponsors, and partners. They share lessons learned, brainstorm new ideas to old problems, and maximize relationships old and new. The pursuit of the entrepreneurial game is happening everywhere.
As Startup America begins its third year, it’s building on what champions around the country have taught. From that same Kauffman report, we’re holding “a belief in loose communities of entrepreneurs rather than an organizational hierarchy; propagating from what exists, rather than creating from scratch; embracing, not resisting, disruption; patience to develop communities over years, not weeks; celebrating success; and, above all, focusing on entrepreneurs.”
In other words: we’re power fans of the crazy entrepreneurs everywhere who are committed to their companies and their startup communities — and, in turn, building business that are growing and prosperous and building communities that are healthy and thriving.