Startup America launches, but the concept needs to expand beyond tech

Summary:The Startup America Partnership has launched with the backing of the White House and big bucks from tech giants such as IBM and Intel, but there's a nagging thought: What about the bulk of the country that isn't high-tech?

The Startup America Partnership has launched with the backing of the White House and big bucks from tech giants such as IBM and Intel.

Andrew Nusca on Smart Planet has the details. The gist:

  • AOL co-founder and Case Foundation Chairman Steve Case will lead the effort.
  • The partnership is designed to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, investors, CEOs, non-profits and universities.
  • The goal for this partnership is to build businesses that scale and create millions of jobs.

Sounds great, but I have one nagging thought: What about the rest of the country? Let's face it. The population isn't all high-tech. The bulk of America is going to work for a large company that isn't a tech darling.

This effort may have more reach if it was about startup America for the Rest of Us. What about teaching people trades and giving them skills to start their own businesses? It's not as sexy as creating the next Facebook, but anyone who has tried to find a plumber, electrician or contractor knows the idea could be powerful.

Here's how this program would work:

  • First, this program wouldn't belittle real trades that are in demand (and incidentally aren't outsourced easily).
  • Second, this Startup America for the Rest of Us would be focused more on the skill economy. Knowledge economies are nice, but let's drop the facade that the U.S. can get away with no manufacturing.
  • And finally, let's acknowledge that the college/trade math equation is way off. Instead of pushing everyone to liberal arts colleges and loads of debt, perhaps we should give entrepreneurs the skills to grow contracting, landscaping and plumbing businesses.

The point: Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and fields. We shouldn't be so enamored with tech that we lose sight of the much larger job-producing picture.

Topics: Banking, CXO


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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