The Download: Startup America Partnership touts entrepreneurs at RNC, DNC

September 2, 2012

Representatives from the District-based Startup America Partnership are descending on the Democratic and Republican conventions in an effort to advocate for government policies that favor small, growing companies.

Last week, the organization held panels at the Republican National Convention in Tampa on the intersection of government and entrepreneurship. They also hosted an expo featuring start-ups from across Florida.

There are similar plans for this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

“Whether it becomes something that is formal to the platforms or not, what we’re interested in is making sure there is a real understanding and education about this category of companies,” said Scott Case, the partnership’s chief executive.

The organization could see its cause buoyed by the emphasis being placed on the economy in this election cycle, particularly by Republicans who have pointed to persistent unemployment as a sign of failure in President Obama’s leadership.

Since the partnership was first formed, advocates have said that young companies provide the bulk of net job growth in the United States. Thus, the economic recovery will depend in part on whether those firms’ ability to thrive.

“The more we can focus on the growth and success of start-ups here in the United States, the more it helps us to push our own economy forward,” Case said. “And it provides the underpinnings of job growth because young companies, as they grow, they hire people.”

Though the Startup America Partnership was formed in collaboration with the White House, Case said the group takes a nonpartisan approach to its advocacy and does not endorse specific policy positions.

The group has opened branches in about half the states and aims to engage with both national and state politicians while they are gathered at the conventions.

“A victory would be [them] paying attention to this category and from there, there is a myriad of different changes that government leaders could start to think about,” Case said.

So what issues are front of mind? Case said start-ups would benefit from immigration reform for highly skilled workers and regulations that better accommodate fast-paced innovation.

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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