New 'Start Us Up' campaign seeks to support new businesses in Missouri

A new project from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation seeks to increase entrepreneurship in Missouri, and is calling on all levels of government to make it easier for startup businesses to get going and build momentum.

“The new businesses entrepreneurs start are responsible for creating nearly all net new jobs in our economy. Yet we almost never hear about entrepreneurship in the national debate,” Jason Wiens, policy director for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, said. “Instead, policymakers tend to focus on helping established [and] often large businesses. Instead of getting help, entrepreneurs continue to encounter barriers that making starting a business harder than it should be.”

The foundation is launching "Start Us Up," which aims to support budding entrepreneurs. The main targets are helping people secure access to the right kind of funding to start their businesses, expanding education so people have the skills needed to launch new businesses, reducing regulations and bureaucracy for new business creators and supporting people ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

“Everyone should have the ability to take a risk,” Wiens said. 

Professional and Business Services had the largest job increase in February, adding 42,000 new positions nationally.   Charles / Unsplash

Wiens noted there often are major roadblocks that prevent budding entrepreneurs from taking on risk. 

“One example is student debt, which prevents millions of young people from starting businesses,” he said

The foundation argues that Missouri is harmed by lack of growth of new businesses. Research from its studies state that in 1998, 0.29 percent of Missouri’s population was starting new businesses. That number has not changed much.

“Twenty years later, and that number is relatively stagnant at 0.32 percent," Wiens said. "Given how many more tools should be available to aspiring entrepreneurs, that’s a clear indication that we could be doing more to support new businesses." 

The foundation also found that fewer startups are surviving after their first year of business.

Wiens said having a strong infrastructure to support startup companies is crucial for Missouri and for the nation as a whole.

“New businesses are responsible for nearly all net new job creation in this country," Wiens said. "With a potential recession looming, entrepreneurs hold the key to innovation and job growth, so it’s important they get the support and resources they need to thrive.”

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