Is the U.S. Losing Entrepreneurial Edge?01 Sep 2011
As we have revisit in this week’s MurthyBulletin and reported in a prior NewsBrief, available on MurthyDotCom, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is taking steps to encourage immigrant entrepreneurs and start-up companies to come to the United States. (See USCIS Announcement to Encourage Entrepreneurs to the U.S., MurthyDotCom, 04.Aug.2011.) This move comes not a moment too soon, according to a piece that recently aired on NPR’s Morning Edition. (See Advocates Urge Easier Visa Policies To Boost Startups, by Wendy Kaufman, National Public Radio, 23.Aug.2011.)
The problem, according to NPR, is that many foreign-born entrepreneurs would love to come to the United States to start their job-creating start-up companies, but are thwarted by outmoded immigration laws that make it too hard to get in. Many would-be immigrant entrepreneurs simply vote with their feet, taking their energy, ideas, and talents elsewhere. The NPR piece tells the story of an ambitious young Australian lawyer who worked in New York and hoped to start his business here. The catch? Starting a company meant losing his employer-sponsored visa.
Instead, NPR reports, he started his business in Santiago, Chile, where a government program gave him a special visa, plus $40,000 in start-up capital. The question is, how long will Congress sit on its hands while other countries – India, China, Chile, and others – sweep top entrepreneurial talent right out from under us? (See U.S. Economic Woes: Entrepreneurs to the Rescue!, MurthyBlog, 10.Aug.2011.) Pleased as we are with the recent administrative moves by the USCIS that certainly will help – a little – this is no substitute for a robust legislative solution that only Congress can make, if only it will.
The NPR story quotes longtime Washington insider, Robert Litan – now serving as Vice President for Research and Policy at the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurship – giving a piece of his mind to our Congressional representatives:
“My advice to our elected officials would be: The country is in trouble. Let’s not worry about the politics of the larger immigration debate, and let’s at least bite off what we can chew now and get those jobs here.”
Hear, hear! We cannot allow our economic interests to be held hostage by the national shouting match over illegal immigration. Time marches on, and the current stalemate in immigration policy isn’t doing any of us any good.
If you didn’t catch the NPR report when it first aired, you’ll find it well worth reading (or hearing) on the web, in its entirety. One hopes it has struck a responsive chord with Washington lawmakers, too.