Beyond Silicon Valley, Declining Entrepreneurship

TV’s celebrating Silicon Valley startups, but across the country entrepreneurs are now struggling behind bigger, older businesses. We’ll ask why.

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014 photo, Lou Tashash, owner and president of R-D Manufacturing Inc., left, watches break operator Scott Finlayson work at his precision sheet manufacturing business in East Lyme, Conn. (AP)

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014 photo, Lou Tashash, owner and president of R-D Manufacturing Inc., left, watches break operator Scott Finlayson work at his precision sheet manufacturing business in East Lyme, Conn. (AP)

The pride of the American economy from early days was the idea that anyone could jump in, start their own business and make things happen.  And for a long time, American entrepreneurship drove the US economy and American dreams.  It still does in Silicon Valley and other hot spots.  But nationally, the numbers are down.  American entrepreneurship is sagging.  That’s bad for innovation, for jobs, for dreams.  Is it red tape gumming up the works?  Is it giant companies – Wal-Mart etc. – blocking the way? This hour On Point:  American entrepreneurship in decline.  We’ll ask why.

— Tom Ashbrook


Danielle Kurtzleben, economics and business corespondent for Vox. (@titonka)

Ray Hennessey, editorial director of (@Hennesseyedit)

Nancy Koehn, historian and professor business administration at the Harvard Business School. (@nancykoehn)

Lina Khan, policy analyst in the Markets, Enterprise and Resiliency Initiative at the New America Foundation. (@linamkhan)

From Tom’s Reading List

Brookings: Declining Business Dynamism in the United States: A Look at States and Metros — “We show that dynamism has declined in all fifty states and in all but a handful of the more than three hundred and sixty U.S. metropolitan areas during the last three decades. Moreover, the performance of business dynamism across the states and metros has become increasingly similar over time. In other words, the national decline in business dynamism has been a widely shared experience.”

The Atlantic: The Mysterious Death of Entrepreneurship in America — “The story of American entrepreneurship begins with a tale of two definitions ofentrepreneur. When the press imagines the modern entrepreneur, our minds turn to tech—coders, hackers, hoodies, apps, Silicon Valley (the show), Silicon Valley (the valley). And it’s true: This sliver of entrepreneurship has grown, by all sorts of measures, for example by venture-capital funding:”

Entrepreneur: Why Americans Don’t Want to Start New Businesses — “If you truly believe in more jobs, in better wages and broader prosperity, you need Americans to innovate, to take risks, and put their capital at work to create new businesses. You should be rooting for their success, since the more money they make, the more profits they have to reinvest in their businesses. That reinvestment invariably creates jobs, which creates wealth for others.”

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