WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tim Scott (R-SC), co-chairs of the Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus, reintroduced the Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act. As rates of entrepreneurship in the U.S. have fallen near a 40 year low, this legislation would require the Secretary of Commerce to work with partners at all relevant government agencies to conduct a comprehensive study into the underlying factors driving the current slowdown in the rate of new business formation.

The Senators also introduced a resolution to commemorate National Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from February 13 through February 20. This non-partisan, congressionally-chartered initiative has taken place annually during the third week in February since 2006. It is supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are key to our economic prosperity and are needed more than ever as we rebuild our economy and put the pandemic behind us,” said Senator Klobuchar. “As co-chair of the Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus, it’s an honor to work with business leaders across the country as they work to spur innovation, create jobs, and move our country forward. I’m glad to celebrate them this week and will continue pushing for policies to support entrepreneurs.”

“There is a difference between being wealthy and creating wealth, and as a former small business owner, I was able to both earn a living and help others to reach their full potential,” said Senator Scott. “As we emerge from the pandemic, our job in Congress will be to implement commonsense policies that will allow our nation’s entrepreneurs to rebuild our economy. My bipartisan Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act is just one of the many tools we can enact to get the American economy back on track.”

The Enhancing Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Act is supported by the Center for American Entrepreneurship and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.

Economists have identified several factors that may explain the reasons for the slowdown in entrepreneurship. These include demographic changes caused by an aging workforce, increased industry concentration, increased risk-aversion following the last recession, difficulties accessing capital (particularly difficulties encountered by underserved populations, minorities, and women), the concentration of venture capital in only a few cites, record levels of student loan debt, and difficulties making use of federally funded research and innovation.

In conducting the study, the Secretary will be required to consult with leaders and utilize key data sets housed at the Census Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and Small Business Administration—in addition to consulting with entrepreneurs and representatives from consumer, community, and entrepreneurship advocacy organizations. The Secretary will be required to consider each of the potential factors identified above and will be required to make distinctions between industries, which economists believe may be affected by disparate factors.

Last Congress, Klobuchar and Scott launched the bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus to address pressing policy issues facing entrepreneurs. Members include Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Hoeven (R-ND), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D- MN), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

Full text of the resolution to commemorate National Entrepreneurship Week can be found HERE and below.

Expressing support for the designation of the week of February 13 through February 20, 2021, as ``National Entrepreneurship Week'' to recognize the importance and contributions of entrepreneurs and startups to the economic prosperity of the United States and the well-being of every community across the United States.

Whereas the experiment of self-governance is a profoundly entrepreneurial undertaking, grounded in the spirit of freedom, adventure, and enterprise;

Whereas the entrepreneurial spirit, which is the ability, freedom, and courage to strike out on one’s own and build something new, is central to the identity of the United States and woven into the national consciousness;

Whereas the United States is a nation of entrepreneurs, with small businesses—

(1)   comprising 99 percent of all businesses in the United States; and

(2)   employing nearly half of all workers in the United States;

Whereas the Partnership for 21st Century Skills identified financial, economic, business literacy, and entrepreneurship skills as the types of skills students need in order to enhance workplace productivity and career opportunities;

Whereas students who participate in entrepreneurship education programs have better attendance records, perform better on core subjects, and have lower drop-out rates than those who do not participate in those programs;

Whereas the COVID–19 pandemic has—

(1)   closed hundreds of thousands of new businesses, also known as “startups”, and small businesses, which has disproportionally affected women and people of color; and

(2)   destroyed millions of jobs, heightening the urgency of accelerating the post-COVID–19 recovery;

Whereas research has demonstrated that startups—

(1)   are disproportionately responsible for the innovations that drive gains in productivity, which, in turn, propel economic growth; and

(2)   account for an outsized portion of net new job creation in the United States;

Whereas research has demonstrated that rates of entrepreneurship in the United States have been in decline in recent decades, and that this decline is occurring in all 50 States and across a broad range of industry sectors;

Whereas, in the wake of the COVID–19 pandemic, the United States has seen an increase in startup applications as individuals in the United States embody the entrepreneurial spirit to respond to the crisis;

Whereas, given the importance of a thriving entrepreneurial spirit to innovation, economic growth, job creation, rising wages, and expanding opportunity in the United States, the circumstances surrounding the COVID–19 amount to an emergency;

Whereas reversing the decline in entrepreneurship in the United States requires changes in public policy; and

Whereas National Entrepreneurship Week will focus on innovative ways in which innovation, entrepreneurship communities, and policymakers in the United States can work together to improve the environment for entrepreneurs in the United States with the aim of—

(1)   reversing the multi-decade decline in entrepreneurship; and

(2)   expanding the rate of participation among women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1)   designates the week of February 13 through February 20, 2021, as “National Entrepreneurship Week”;

(2)   celebrates the importance of entrepreneurs and startups to the United States economy;

(3)   recognizes the contributions entrepreneurs make to expand opportunity, provide more inclusive prosperity, and increase the well-being of every community across the United States;

(4)   affirms the importance and urgency of enacting policies that promote, nurture, and support entrepreneurs and startups; and

(5)   encourages Federal, State, and local governments, schools, nonprofit organizations, and other civic organizations to observe National Entrepreneurship Week annually with special events and activities—

  1. to recognize the contributions of entrepreneurs in the United States;
  2. to teach the importance of entrepreneurship to a strong and inclusive economy; and
  3. to take steps to encourage, support, and celebrate future entrepreneurs.

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