What do the states of Montana, Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, and Mississippi have in common? They are, according to a report published this spring by the Kauffman Foundation, Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, 1996–2012 , the states that posted the highest rates of entrepreneurial activity in 2012.
According to the Kauffman Foundation report:
• Montanans operate 530 businesses per 100,000 adults, Vermonters and New Mexicans operate 520 businesses per 100,000 adults, and Alaskans and Mississippians operate 430 businesses per 100,000 adults.
• A most important measure—the formation of businesses with employees—held steady from 2011 to 2012: At 0.11 percent (meaning 11 employer businesses per 100,000 individuals), an average of 193,000 new employer businesses were formed each quarter in 2012.
This is important, and good, news about our economy. And these states should be applauded for what they are doing to foster entrepreneurship, which is a driver of economic growth and prosperity.
Support for entrepreneurship is a central part of the Economic Development Administration’s mission  as it works to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States.
• In Montana, the Montana Technology Enterprise Center  in Missoula, with EDA assistance, is undertaking a major renovation of its business incubator and building a new pilot chemical processing plant to help technology start-up companies commercialize research.
• In Vermont, EDA support has helped capitalize an energy efficiency revolving loan fund  in the Burlington region that is expected to help up to 150 small and medium-sized businesses achieve energy savings in a region with historically high energy costs.
• In New Mexico, EDA has funded infrastructure improvements at the Sandia Science and Technology Park , such as high-speed fiber optic lines, that are helping businesses located there to leverage advances in technology generated by nearby universities and federal labs and, according to an independent report, to create thousands of jobs.
• In Alaska, the Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project , representing a consortium of 31 Alaskan tribes, is, with EDA help, working to increase the capacity of the region’s commercial fishing and seafood processor industry cluster by providing technical assistance to local businesses and developing a regional fisheries business cooperative.
• In Mississippi, an EDA investment under the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator  is supporting business-oriented action programs in 61 counties in the Delta and Appalachian areas of the state that focus on working directly with prospective entrepreneurs through techniques made available from the Kauffman Foundation to accelerate the formation of new and innovative businesses. The program targets the creation and retention of more than 500 jobs, with an anticipated economic development impact of more than $30 million.
Last November, when he proclaimed National Entrepreneurship month, President Obama noted that “because the new businesses created by entrepreneurs are responsible for most of the new jobs in our country, helping them succeed is essential to helping our economy grow.” Through its investments and partnerships, EDA is helping to deliver on that promise.