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In Focus: Driving Economic Prosperity Through Entrepreneurism

Entrepreneurism will be the “shot in the arm” the economy so desperately needs to recover.

Q1 2021
The coronavirus pandemic plunged the world into a deep health and economic crisis. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine points to a “light at the end of the tunnel” for the country’s physical health, but as we collectively take stock for ways to rebuild our economy stronger and more resilient than before, we need to remember what works. Entrepreneurism has been, and will continue to be, a driver of long-term economic growth.

The economic free fall brought about by the coronavirus was unexpected and unprecedented. Experts are still attempting to fully understand, quantify, and predict the full extent of the fallout. We do know that the U.S. hit its deepest recession since WWII, which serves as a reminder that we must be intentional in our efforts to help our economy recover and grow once more.

In a post-COVID era, small businesses and startups will become even more important than ever before. Small businesses and startups have always been important drivers of our economy. But in a post-COVID era, they will become even more important than ever before. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses accounted for nearly 60 million jobs and employed 47 percent of all U.S. employees in the pre-pandemic economy.

In addition to job creation, small businesses also fuel innovation and productivity on a local level that feed other businesses in the community. And while minorities are still underrepresented in the leadership ranks of large companies, small businesses allow people to become their own boss.

Comprehensive and innovative support ecosystems will be necessary to take ideas from conception to commercialization. Given the important role entrepreneurism will play in a post-COVID world, we need to do all we can to support small businesses’ formation and success. Comprehensive and innovative support ecosystems will be necessary to take ideas from conception to commercialization. In Michigan, for example, the state provides a full suite of services from funding and mentoring programs to supporting early-stage technologies coming out of the state’s universities, which will ensure that ideas with potential can ultimately evolve into companies that create jobs, pay taxes, and grow our economy.

The tremendous potential for entrepreneurism to contribute to recovery can be seen in the success of Duo Security, an Ann Arbor-based startup, which developed a two-factor authentication system to protect the security of its users in the modern era. The company was founded in 2009 with two full-time employees, and as Duo considered going public in 2018, the industry titan Cisco bought out the company for $2.35 billion. Today, the company employs more than 800 people serving more than 20,000 customers around the globe by delivering trusted cloud-based security systems.

In 2021 and beyond, high-tech startups and small businesses will be a critical piece of the recovery puzzle. We must do all we can to support their success, as they will help rebuild the foundation of our economy. But ideas don’t move from a thought to a company without support. Venture capital and seed funding, license negotiations, research commercialization, and more are necessary to help fledgling businesses thrive.

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