The Hill: Highlighting contributions of entrepreneurs, startup companies

For many Americans, a cornerstone of the American Dream is the opportunity to take an idea and turn it into a successful business. Our nation’s economic prosperity was built on a foundation of American ingenuity and the drive to turn dreams into reality.

As members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, we share a common goal of supporting the small businesses that are a key part of the American economy. This year we are joining together to celebrate the 4th Annual Startup Day Across America, an effort to highlight the critical contributions entrepreneurs and startup companies make to our economy and look for ways to ensure those innovative businesses can continue to thrive.

Startup Day Across America is a bipartisan and bicameral opportunity to raise awareness of the entrepreneurial activity happening from coast to coast that helps boost our economic growth. Fast-growing startup companies are no longer unique to Silicon Valley or the technology sector. Startups in a diverse range of industries, such as health care, entertainment, retail and education, are taking root in communities across the country, including our home states of Michigan and Montana. 

Michigan startups are fostering innovative ideas—from The Runway in Lansing, a fashion incubator that supports local clothing designers, to Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City which hosts accelerator suites to expand the reach of local food and agricultural producers. And Detroit Land, founded in 2011 with one employee and a dedication to making efficient business apps for smartphones, now has upwards of 100 employees and clients that include Domino’s Pizza, GM, DTE Energy, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and others.  

Montana leads the nation in business creation, with 540 out of every 100,000 residents starting businesses each month. That number is nearly twice the national average. Montana supports an array of startups, like Pulsara in Bozeman, a health focused company working to provide applications that improve patient outcomes by streamlining communication between first responders and the hospital. Beartooth turns your smartphone into a radio, allowing you to communicate even when you are off the grid. Dotmos in Missoula is building new ways to research the web by making results more visual and relevant. And Purse for the People ships hand-woven rattan handbags nationwide all from Butte, Montana.   

Not only are startup companies unleashing innovative products and new services for consumers, they are a primary source for job creation in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, startup firms less than a year old created 1.7 million jobs in 2015, which represents 60 percent of total employment growth. Since 1992, small startup companies have created an average of 2 million jobs every year, with more than half of these jobs created by companies with fewer than 10 employees.

However, many consumers may not know those businesses and services are available right in their own communities. With Startup Day Across America, our goal is to showcase how startups in every state are reimagining the future and capitalizing on inventive ideas. We encourage our colleagues in Congress to join us in celebrating Start Up Day Across America on Aug. 4 by visiting a startup company in their home states to see firsthand the innovation at work in these dynamic businesses. Startup companies and their ground-breaking products and services will continue to be a vital part of our country’s economic future. As members of Congress, we must take the lead to support these up-and-coming businesses and encourage our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit to continue to grow.