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Blog Category: Entrepreneurship

Secretary Pritzker Answers Questions about Entrepreneurship During Twitter Chat

While attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Marrakech, Morocco Secretary Penny Pritzker took questions about entrepreneurship and innovation from Twitter users. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship, Secretary Pritzker led a U.S. delegation to the Summit, demonstrating the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering a culture of innovation around the world.

Below is a transcript of the Twitter chat.

Secretary Pritzker Marks One-Year Anniversary of “Open for Business Agenda” Launch

Secretary Pritzker speaking with Evan Burfield at 1776 about the Open for Business Agenda

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield to discuss the U.S. economy, entrepreneurship, and the one-year anniversary of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Located in Washington, DC, 1776 serves as a global hub that connects startups tackling challenges in education, energy, health care, government and other industries with the resources they need to excel. 

Last November at 1776, Secretary Pritzker outlined the” Open for Business Agenda,” a bold policy priorities framework for the Department of Commerce, centered on the tools needed for U.S. economic growth. It is focused on U.S. trade and investment, innovation, data, environmental intelligence, and operational excellence, and this agenda reflects the Department’s role as the voice of business, as well as the Obama Administration’s keen focus on economic growth and job creation.

In light of Global Entrepreneurship Week which begins today, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the Department’s focus on entrepreneurship as an important tool for economic growth in the United States and across the world. As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship and chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Secretary Pritzker will help lead the American delegation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Morocco this week. At GES, the Secretary will promote the importance of global entrepreneurship and support foreign entrepreneurs. She will also stress that entrepreneurship is gender neutral when she speaks during Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19.

On a more personal note, Secretary Pritzker offered advice to entrepreneurs, recommending that they should not be afraid of failure. As a founder of five companies, she understands that sometimes failures are necessary to achieve success and that resilience matters.

1776 cofounder Evan Burfield also asked Secretary Pritzker to talk about her favorite entrepreneur. She mentioned that the entrepreneurs she meets both at home and abroad – from Saudi Arabia to Japan – inspire her with their continual enthusiasm and desire to improve the world.  She specifically mentioned a young Ghanaian entrepreneur named Ethel Cofie who started an IT services firm as someone that inspires.  Secretary Pritzker also considers Daphne Koller, co-founder and president of Coursera and a PAGE Ambassador, an example of how great ideas can come at any age. Koller founded the online education platform when she was 44 and a Stanford University professor.   

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Accessing Census Bureau Statistics

U.S. Census Apps

If you are thinking of starting a new business, one of the first things you need is information to understand market conditions. Entrepreneurs rely on American Community Survey and Economic Census data to understand local markets, the local workforce, commuting patterns and economic activity in prospective new locations to make investment decisions that create jobs and grow the economy. 

You may already know that the U.S. Census Bureau has a wealth of information that can be invaluable to entrepreneurs. But how do you get started? We have several tools that make it easy to find the statistics you need to start or grow your business. Here are four tools you can begin using today and one that is coming soon. 

1. QuickFacts

Many times, you may just need to know a quick fact such as the population or demographic makeup of a state or county. With our QuickFacts tool, you can find current population estimates, key demographic statistics from the American Community Survey, and economic statistics from selected Census Bureau economic programs. A soon to be released beta version of the tool allows for comparison of these data across geographic areas as well as expanded visualizations of these data.

2. Census Explorer

One of our newest tools, Census Explorer provides an interactive map of various demographic topics for states, counties and census tracts. For example, Census Explorer: Retail Edition includes statistics on retail trade in America from County Business Patterns, including the growing online shopping market. You can find information on the number of businesses, employment and average annual payroll per employee for every county in the U.S.  Other editions of Census Explorer display population estimates or topics from the American Community Survey, such as commuting information, education and income.

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Alexa von Tobel

Alexa von Tobel

When she was graduating from college, Alexa von Tobel realized she had received no guidance on personal finance. Her personal experience inspired her to start a company when she was just 25, with the hopes that she could make personal investing and budgeting approachable. The online financial planning company LearnVest has now brought financial planning to thousands of Americans, making it more accessible and affordable than ever before.

Forbes calls her a “personal finance guru,” Fortune has named her as a “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur,” and Marie Claire Magazine chose her as one of 18 Women Changing the World.

As an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, von Tobel believes that “if you can teach people that they can believe in themselves and take their little seed of an idea and feed it properly, that not only can we change the economy, the country, but maybe even the globe.”

Cosmopolitan says that “When you talk to her, it’s a bit like talking to a Roman candle, just fully on fire, and all sorts of interesting colors are coming out of her.”

With a palpable enthusiasm for encouraging others to follow their passions, von Tobel shared her experiences and expertise at the inaugural Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Summit. Launched in 2014, YALI is a signature effort that connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to help expand their skills and knowledge so they can foster entrepreneurial change in their communities and countries.

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Steve Case

Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution Enterpreneurial and Ambassador, Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship

His first job out of college was at Procter & Gamble, and a few years later he became a marketer for Pizza Hut. You may now know him as the co-founder of AOL who ultimately brought generations of Americans online and made “You’ve got mail” a household phrase. You may also recognize him as an independent with friends in both political parties, who helped broker some of the finer points of the JOBS Act, the legislative package of bills that ease regulations on startups and potential Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

Today, Steve Case is the founder and partner of Revolution, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm that believes great companies and ideas can be found throughout the country, not just in Silicon Valley.

Bloomberg Businessweek says he’s an “in-demand cheerleader for entrepreneurism,” and Entrepreneur Magazine calls him the “Disrupter-in-Chief” and an “online pioneer [who] is bringing big ideas to life – through drive, leadership and a personal touch.” 

Steve Case was appointed by President Barack Obama to be chairman of the Startup America Partnership, a nonprofit that fosters private-sector investment into job creation. He also joined the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where he helped lead a subcommittee looking at job creation and entrepreneurship.

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PAGE Ambassador Steve Case Transcript

Secretary Pritzker and Three PAGE Ambassadors to Attend Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, Morocco

Secretary Pritzker and the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship meet with President Obama in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which will take place November 19-21 in Marrakech, Morocco to demonstrate the U.S. government’s continued commitment to fostering entrepreneurship around the world. On November 19, her activities will focus specifically on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. This year’s summit marks the fifth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development, business leaders, mentors, and high-level government officials.

Entrepreneurship is key to unlocking economic growth and creating jobs, and the U.S. government leads numerous programs and initiatives to improve enabling environments and to make tools and networks available to individual entrepreneurs. At last year’s GES in Malaysia, President Obama asked Secretary Pritzker to chair the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, and she was happy to assume her role as the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship. In April, Secretary Pritzker chaired the first PAGE meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

Six months later, Secretary Pritzker has arranged PAGE-related events on four continents since the program’s launch, and the PAGE initiative continues to gain momentum, with PAGE members actively engaged in promoting innovation here at home and abroad. The following PAGE members will join Secretary Pritzker in Morocco to serve as entrepreneurship ambassadors and to share their knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world:

Secretary Pritzker Meets with Korean CEOs to Discuss Importance of Entrepreneurship

As part of her efforts to strengthen commercial ties between the United States and the Asia-Pacific region, Secretary Pritzker met with Korean entrepreneurs in Seoul to discuss the importance of supporting policies in the U.S. and Korea that encourage innovation. 

Both countries view entrepreneurship as a powerful tool to combat unemployment and capitalize on positive economic trends, and Korean President Park Geun-hye​ has made promoting the creative economy a top priority for the country.  The United States can support Korea’s vision of generating new employment opportunities through an innovation-driven economy with the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurs (PAGE) Program. PAGE was launched in April when Secretary Pritzker chaired the first meeting, bringing together a group of America’s most inspiring innovators to serve as ambassadors for global entrepreneurship.

One way PAGE could support Korea's entrepreneurial class is through mentorship sessions between PAGE members and Korean businesses. With diverse backgrounds, the ambassadors will energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the many resources available to them.

Secretary Pritzker also learned more about the existing challenges and future opportunities for Korean businesses. By familiarizing herself with South Korea’s investment climate and ecosystem, she can engage more U.S. firms in partnerships and mentorship with Korean businesses. She also gave insightful suggestions regarding entrepreneurship from her own experience.

The business leaders present at the meeting included CEOs and representatives from ChattingCat, Reverth, Chinchin, Estmob, Soundl.ly, Google Korea, Modu Company, Bravepops, SparkLabs, Softbank Ventures Korea, Flitto, and Korbit.

Secretary Pritzker is determined to strengthen the bilateral relationship, and she and President Park agree that both countries will thrive economically by fostering more entrepreneurship. The United States has been at the forefront of innovation in businesses, and with PAGE’s guidance and international partnerships, entrepreneurs will become more encouraged to start their own businesses and leave a legacy of their own.

Secretary Pritzker Meets With Gaming Industry CEOs in Silicon Valley

Secretary Pritzker visiting Silicon Valley and the Gaming Industry

On Monday, U.S Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker met with various gaming industry CEOs at Electronic Arts in Silicon Valley to learn more about the creative job skills and talent required to maintain American competitiveness, as well as the gaming industry’s overall contribution to the economy. She also toured Electronic Arts and GlassLab. Electronic Arts (EA) is a developer and publisher of computer and video games with several subsidiaries which includes sports role-playing, racing and combat, online communities and original franchises like Tetris, Scrabble and Monopoly. Glasslab is a research and development effort that focuses on educational games and game-based assessment design in the United States.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker emphasized the important role that the Department of Commerce plays in creating the conditions that support the growth of the country’s most competitive industries, and empowering private sector companies to out-innovate anyone in the world. She also expressed her desire to learn more about the contributions that the gaming industry has brought to the economy, the jobs it has created, and the ability to remain globally competitive.

The United States gaming industry has enjoyed enormous success over the last decade, and the jobs it supports are now a crucial part of the country’s economic growth. In fact, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently produced a 2014 report on video games in the 21st century which measures the economic contributions made by the gaming industry during the period of 2009-2012. According to ESA’s report, the game software publishing industry has employed 42,000 people in 36 states. The report also highlights that U.S total employment, both direct and indirect, that depends on this industry now exceeds 146,000. The value that this industry has added to the U.S GDP is over $6.2 billion.

Lutheran Services in America Works to Strengthen Local Communities

Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA)

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), one of the nation’s largest health and human services networks. Prior to joining LSA in 2012, Charlotte was the number-two executive at Global Impact, a $110 million non-profit organization that provides funding for critical humanitarian needs at home and around the world. Previously, she held senior leadership positions at Price Waterhouse where she directed a management consulting practice and Fannie Mae where she led an industry transformation initiative. 

Q1: Tell us about Lutheran Services in America. What is your mission and main focus?

Lutheran Services in America (www.lutheranservices.org) is one of the largest health and human services networks in the country. Our more than 300 members provide a broad range of critical services from health care to children and family services, senior services, disaster relief, refugee services, disability support, housing, and employment support, among others.  Collectively, LSA members touch the lives of 1 in 50 Americans each year in thousands of communities across the United States.

Ranked at #25 on the Philanthropy 400, the LSA network represents close to $21 billion in combined annual revenues in the U.S. Our members employ close to 250,000 people in all 50 states and parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our members provide services to all, regardless of their religious affiliation, race, or social or economic background.

LSA works to ensure our members’ resilience in an increasingly evolving environment. Our newly revised mission is to “build valuable connections, amplify our voices and empower our members,” and our vision is a network of “connected, strong and thriving” members that “transform the lives of people and communities.” A distinguishing characteristic of our network is the deep trust and sharing that come from a shared set of values and goals. Our network strives to help people become self-sufficient so they can lead more independent, secure and higher quality lives. The deep trust facilitates rapid innovation and scale.

We help our members to build resilience through specialized programming for CEOs and executives; we also work to help build the capacity and infrastructure of our member organizations, for example by exploring new business models that can create more sustainable revenue streams. We also find opportunities for our 307 members to work together to achieve outcomes they couldn’t achieve on their own so they can grow and continue to serve their communities for generations to come.

Commerce in the Community: Rising Tide Capital works to improve traditionally disadvantaged communities by empowering local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Cheif Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality business education and consulting to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs in Northern NJ. Rising Tide Capital has achieved national recognition for its approach to economic empowerment of low-income individuals and communities through entrepreneurship. In 2009, Rising Tide Capital was selected as a CNN Hero and recognized by President Barack Obama in a White House speech on innovative non-profit organizations.

Q1: Tell us about Rising Tide Capital. What is your mission and main focus?

Rising Tide Capital is a nonprofit organization committed to the economic empowerment of low-income families and communities through entrepreneurship. By providing high-quality business education and consulting services and by partnering with local microfinance agencies, our goal is to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods that need them most by investing in the success of the talented men and women who live there.

We believe in the value of the work we do at Rising Tide Capital because it leverages an immense amount of entrepreneurial activity that is already going on in low-income neighborhoods and tries to invest in those efforts in ways that can confront the extremely challenging context of working poverty in modern America. Due to unemployment, underemployment, and low-wage work, many urban communities have large numbers of poor and working-poor families. These families struggle with financial self-sufficiency and often have difficulty covering basic expenses like rent and electricity. The emotional and psychological stress of financial insecurity—and the anxiety and depression that so often develops—is at the root of what keeps poor communities poor.