Where Do Jobs Come From?

What happens when you bring together small business owners, academics, and policymakers to discuss the issue of job creation? You get the Office of Advocacy’s most recent symposium, High-Impact Entrepreneurship Outlook: Finance and Innovation Create Jobs.

The gathering took place in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room in the Senate’s Russell Building. The meeting room was the site of the Watergate and Iran Contra hearings as well as the announcement of President Kennedy’s and Senator Robert Kennedy’s runs for the White House. The historic setting didn’t inhibit a lively discussion.

The symposium was a scene setter for where we are in the early 21st century; participants looked at the importance of innovation and incentives, discussed the role of financing high impact firms, and provided some information on what the federal government is doing to help.

As Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant stated in his opening remarks, “Growing a business is challenging, creating jobs is challenging, growing an economy is challenging; but we have the tools and commitment to do all of these.” I don’t believe the audience disagreed with either sentiment. With all the talk about the economy entering a “new normal,” where the relative prosperity of our past will no longer be our future, the program participants were realistic in their assessment of the economy’s current state but optimistic about its future.

Margaret Graham, associate professor at McGill University, evaluated the role of venture capital financing and the way business schools currently approach it. Kevin Conroy, president and CEO of Exact Sciences Corporation, talked about the challenges he faced in securing financing for his high-growth firm. He also talked about the role and the importance of government innovation funding and its potential impact for growing firms.

In her remarks, SBA Administrator Karen Mills announced that a 23 percent spike in financing from SBA’s growth capital program occurred in fiscal year 2010, providing a record $1.6 billion to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The fiscal year 2010 volume is the highest single-year volume in the 50-year history of SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) debenture program.

Gene Sperling, counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, provided a detailed analysis of what is in the Small Business Jobs Act, recently signed into law by President Obama, and how it will help small business and create jobs.

By bringing together this group, Advocacy continued its commitment to promoting discussions to help America’s small businesses.

Patrick Morris, Public Liaison & Media Manager

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