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Encouraging Entrepreneurship Growth Through Commerce Resources

As entrepreneurship month comes to a close, the Department of Commerce remains laser focused on creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate across the U.S. While the majority of startups are within cities like Boston, New York and San Francisco, we at the Commerce department know that there are untapped sources of innovation within unconventional startup cities.

We are committed to equitably rebuilding our economy by investing in additional cities to boost entrepreneurship and spur industry. Especially in places where people haven't had the same opportunity due to their race, gender or geography. We know there are innovators in many cities, but they might not have the necessary infrastructure to take advantage of their innovative ideas.

This is where the Commerce Department comes into play.

Economic Development Administration (EDA)

Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant investments support the implementation of locally-driven economic development strategies designed to make it easier for businesses to start and grow.

Traditional EDA grant programs can help communities build infrastructure like business incubators that provide the invaluable resources and assistance that startups need to grow, hire, and prosper. EDA also administers a Revolving Loan Program, which allows eligible recipients to capitalize or recapitalize lending programs that service businesses that may not be able to obtain traditional bank financing.

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) aims to empower communities so that entrepreneurs can launch companies, scale technologies, and create the jobs of tomorrow.

OIE manages several grant competitions that support high-growth entrepreneurship, create jobs, and drive economic growth, including the Build to Scale Program to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital, and the STEM Talent Challenge to build STEM talent training systems to strengthen regional innovation economies.

In addition, EDA today is moving $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding into communities through six innovative programs, including the Good Jobs Challenge, which can help businesses gain the talent they need to succeed by allocating $500 million toward industry-led workforce training programs to help get Americans – particularly women, people of color and those in underserved communities - back to work in good-paying jobs.

EDA is committed to equitably distributing its funding.  In fact, EDA’s top investment priority is ‘Equity’ which speaks to the bureau’s continued commitment to working closely with our nation’s underserved populations and communities.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

The USPTO in the Department of Commerce is also a critical lifeline to entrepreneurs and helps to increase innovation around our country. New companies that apply for and receive a patent generate almost 80% more revenue and hire 36% more workers after five years than those that don’t have a patent, according to the National Bureau of Economics. In that spirit, the United States Patent and Trademark Office offers a myriad of events and intellectual property training programs for aspiring and current entrepreneurs, wherever they may be in their innovation journeys.

“There are resources throughout the U.S. Government to guide young women into STEM subjects, and to discover the wonders of innovation, such as this summer’s Camp Invention [through the National Inventors Hall of Fame], and programs the USPTO runs nationwide that simplify the process of obtaining patents and trademarks,” - Secretary Raimondo remarked at the Women Entrepreneurship Symposium in March. “The Patent and Trademark Office’s SUCCESS Act study last year — that found only 12.8 percent of all patents were granted to women — should serve as a wakeup call to all of us.”

The Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success Act (SUCCESS Act) also established a national council to assist the agency in developing national strategy for promoting and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in the innovation ecosphere. The recently renamed Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), chaired by Secretary Raimondo, fosters innovation, competitiveness and economic growth by increasing involvement of underrepresented groups as investors-patentees, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders.

The USPTO’s recently redesigned Expanding Innovation page also provides a useful toolkit for entrepreneurs looking to learn more about resources available to them, including information “de-mystifying” the patent system and ways to protect their business’ valued intellectual property.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency ,the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises, also plays a critical role in assisting our nation’s entrepreneurs And now, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Minority Business Development Agency is a permanently authorized agency, allowing them to increase their programs and outreach to the Nation’s more than 9 million minority-owned businesses.

Entrepreneurs can tap into dozens of MBDA’s business centers across the U.S. These centers assist in securing capital, competing for contracts, identifying a strategic partner and becoming export-ready. The Centers are located in areas with the largest concentration of minority populations and the largest number of minority businesses.

Census Bureau

To boost startups, entrepreneurs need to understand their customer base. The Census Bureau provides the most up to date information on our nation’s people and economy. Specifically, entrepreneurs can access Census Business Builder (CBB), which provides a suite of services offering selected demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau specifically for business owners. Their Small Business Edition tool is especially useful for small business owners who rely on key data for their business plans or to better understand their potential market.

In Closing

This entrepreneurship month, and every month, the Department of Commerce is committed to expanding opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, no matter their background or geographical location. The linkage between business and innovation in this country is what gives our country its competitive edge. Through Bureau programs and other initiatives across the Department, we will help to rebuild of our economy better than it was before this pandemic, with an eye towards equity and further growth in industries both inside and outside of historic industry centers.