Revitalizing the American Dream

As an eight-time serial entrepreneur, I loved everything in Inc.'s article about saving the American economy ["Bring On the Entrepreneurs!," July/August 2010]. I am passionate about the importance of entrepreneurship to the survival of the American dream, and I applaud Inc.'s efforts to champion business creation.

Mike Ross
President, 4PSA

Thank you for sharing your ideas for creating jobs in this country. The Obama administration recognizes, as you do, the vital importance of small businesses in our economy. The important role start-up companies have in creating jobs is a crucial piece of our ongoing recovery.

Your article mentioned many good ideas about ways we can create more jobs. In fact, many of those ideas were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. For example, in an effort to increase access to credit for small businesses, the Recovery Act raised loan guarantees and reduced borrower fees for Small Business Administration programs.

The Obama administration is focused every single day on doing everything we can to accelerate the rate of employment growth.

William E. Spriggs
Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.

It would be great news for the economy if tax breaks for angel investors spread to more states throughout the country. Yes, some angels will invest in bad ideas that will fail. But if an idea does succeed and a company creates jobs, everyone wins: The company and its employees pay taxes, and everyone, including the angels, has more money to save, spend, or invest in the economy.

Matt Sadler

Oakland, California

Another way to create jobs in the U.S. is to promote manufacturing here. My company just launched a product called the PoopPac, a case for carrying used dog-waste bags, and we manufacture it in California. Everyone tells me I'll have to move the manufacturing to China to succeed as a business. People don't even bother to ask about my production costs; they just assume it can't be done here. It's very sad.

Susan Davidson
CEO/owner, Daystar Solutions
Santa Barbara, California

I have started two businesses and am in the process of starting two more. I'm surprised by how much Inc. is looking to the U.S. government to "mobilize" entrepreneurs. The government has saddled the taxpayer with several trillion dollars of debt and massive new entitlements. Europe has already shown us where this leads: slower growth, higher entrenched unemployment, and more taxes.

I don't think we need any more new ideas so much as we need to remember the old ones: that low taxes and less government meddling made America the most dynamic and innovative country in the world.

Craig Brett
Owner, Hip Product Factory
Vancouver, British Columbia

One element that you've missed in your excellent consideration of policy prescriptions for restoring the American dream is health care reform. Not only are American businesses hamstrung by the high costs of health care -- costs that far exceed those incurred by foreign competitors -- but far too many American workers are trapped in suboptimal jobs by the need to retain health care benefits for their families. If we could reduce health care costs and make health coverage truly portable and not dependent on employer-provided benefits, we could make American businesses more competitive and encourage a wave of entrepreneurship. By keeping health care tied to employment, we encourage employees to avoid risk taking and the pursuit of entrepreneurial options.

David Wirick
Principal, Kreider-Wirick
Columbus, Ohio

Congratulations on the article about reviving the American economy, which I found intriguing and insightful. I agree that one of America's strengths has been its ability to attract and reward the greatest global talent.

There's no reason success in innovation and entrepreneurship cannot be shared between the U.S. and other nations as well. For example, Netflix gave an innovation prize to a team of seven people from around the world who collaborated online and met in person for the first time only when they collected the award. Our consulting business is trying to encourage that kind of cross-border teamwork among business leaders in the U.S. and Portugal with a program called GSI, which brings Portuguese companies to the U.S. to network and exchange ideas.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are still relying on America to pull the global economy out of its misery. I hope the guidelines in your article are implemented and help revive the belief in the American dream.

Torben Rankine
Country manager, Leadership Business Consulting
San Francisco

It's easy to say that government and taxes are the two biggest impediments to starting a business, but that is simply untrue. The biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs is the lack of access to the advice and resources necessary to succeed. Many businesses fail because entrepreneurs make mistakes that could have been avoided with the proper guidance.

What impressed me about this article was the very specific examples of positive efforts being made by various cities, universities, and organizations that are making it possible for entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. I didn't agree with every point in the article, but I appreciated the research and wealth of information presented.

Gail Margolies Reid
CPA and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Low-Cost Startups

I agree that we need more funding for big science. It seems that all the technological breakthroughs we marvel at today, including flat-screen TVs and advanced medical diagnostics, were developed in the '80s and '90s. Since 2000, we've limited ourselves to inexpensive, incremental innovation and Web-based services such as social networks. Today, technological breakthroughs are often more marketing hype than substance.

Nathan Gardner Meryash
Manhasset, New York

As an attorney, I have regular discussions on the subject of noncompete agreements. I don't believe in them. Intellectual property in California has flourished because noncompetes aren't enforceable here. I agree that proprietary property and confidential information must be protected, but that can be done without noncompetes, which can result in expensive, drawn-out litigation. Is it really worth it? How can you recruit the best employees with that sword over their heads?

Don Phin
President, HR That Works
Coronado, California

The last point in Inc.'s plan, which encourages cities and states to embrace microfinancing, has an underlying message about where we are headed. Funding decisions by banks are less personal than they were in the past. It's almost as though the new method for assessing risk is based on how little banks stand to lose if things don't go as planned. That leaves out a major element: the nonfinancial assets of prospective borrowers, including their commitment to success and willingness to work hard.

Jason Turnbull
Melbourne, Australia


The Inc. 500 listings in the September issue contained a few errors. The correct information is as follows: The CEO of Modea is David Catalano. Justin Lawyer, Tim Marks, and Patrick Clasen are co-owners of EcoTech Marine. Nathan Reeves and Randall Thomas are co-CEOs of Integrated Secure. Jose Rivera and Amish Shah are co-CEOs of Digispace Solutions.

We inadvertently omitted Octo Consulting Group, a government services company in Vienna, Virginia, from the rankings. The company's three-year growth rate was 7,224.3 percent. Also inadvertently omitted was Virtualosity Solutions, an IT services company in Portland, Oregon, with a three-year growth rate of 1,746.7 percent. Next Generation Enrollment, a human resources company in Ada, Michigan, had a three-year growth rate of 627.8 percent. These three companies have earned a spot on this year's Inc. 500.

In September's Inc. 500 update, we incorrectly identified the company that made the biggest jump in Inc. 500 rank from 2009 to 2010. The honor belongs to Lead Research Group, which moved from No. 391 in 2009 to No. 23 this year.

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