THE BLOG
10/29/2012 01:13 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2012

The Innovate America Initiative: Nurturing Innovation and Fueling Job Creation

The World Bank's Department of SMEs defines a small enterprise as one that has 10-50 employees with a medium enterprise employing 50-250. Representing more than 99 percent of all global businesses and 50 percent of worldwide GDP, SMEs play an instrumental role in the socio-economic development of the entire global community having the potential to become driving forces of economic and social change. Utilizing the parameters of The World Bank's globally accepted standard, current U.S. Census Bureau data reports that some 60 million Americans are employed by U.S. SMEs.

America needs to have a healthy and vital SME (small-to-medium enterprise) community more so now than in any time in its history. Historically, SMEs are proven engines of economic growth and, as such, critically important to our nation's recovery and its future well-being. It is the entrepreneurial SME and its innovative products and services that have lifted America out of economic doldrums following past recessions. In our current recession, unemployment rose faster than in any other postwar recession. Recent studies also confirm that America's net new job growth primarily comes from companies that are less than five years old. These entrepreneurial SMEs, when properly nurtured, will be the catalysts for new job growth. They are an American treasure for they possess and embody America's ultimate resource which is creativity; the innate ability to create and innovate. Their importance to America's recovery however is poorly understood and as a class they have become under-appreciated, under-supported and are financially malnourished. They have not been properly nurtured, nor provided the "sliver of capital" they require to grow. As a consequence, the solution to America's recession, its SME community, is presently ill-equipped to lift America out of its current economic crisis.

It is time for America to design, implement and execute innovative new methods, strategies and initiatives that will create and nurture a revitalized environment for the stewardship of SMEs from their formation through, if applicable, sophisticated secondary market transactions. These are the companies that fuel the American economy and they are in crisis; and if they remain in crisis so will America. They are the embodiment of grassroots American capitalism that is brought to life when an entrepreneur dreams a dream, "The American Dream." It is this underlying capitalistic drive to create and benefit from economic enterprise that motivates entrepreneurs to move out of their garages and into factories, and to take their corner store and replicate it around the world.

It is this "American Dream" that has fueled our nation's growth and global preeminence. However, the mechanism that helped make those dreams a reality is no longer functioning and the system that gave rise and breathed life into thousands of SMEs -- some now well-known names like Microsoft, Intel, American Express, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, and Starbucks -- is in jeopardy and has been dormant for too long now. If we are to avoid the destruction of this great American economic asset, we need to act now, and we need to act decisively. As a nation that still considers itself the "land of opportunity", and as a country that has positioned itself as an economic model for the rest of the world, we have good reason to repair the machinery that makes those opportunities so attractive. It is time for America to retool, and if required, replace the tools it uses to cultivate a fertile and robust climate for SME development and growth; now and for future generations.

It is the founding mandate of The Innovate America Initiative to rekindle and spark a new national enthusiasm to pursue "The American Dream"; to employ new thinking, new methods and new systems to facilitate a period of unprecedented growth within this vital economic sector; to formulate new funding strategies that will give rise to a more seamless and streamlined capital formation franchise that is sustainable, investor friendly, and one that provides entrepreneurial SMEs access to capital with these and other services provided by participants of a new market culture; to promote and advance the creation of a new, integrated and comprehensive infrastructure that supports, sponsors and safeguards the American SME; and to be the primary catalyst catapulting America into a new era of innovation; an era of innovation that will reshape America and reshape the entire global community.

Finally, in consideration of the expansive and pervasive nature of SMEs throughout the American landscape, it is my expressed intention to use this national platform as an agent of change; an ideal vehicle to advance, and usher in, a new era of American capitalism; one rooted in commercial honor and integrity and socially responsible engagement. And, as the U.S. SME market embraces and is embraced by the established global SME community, I intend to work in tandem with our global counterparts and colleagues, utilizing this global SME platform to usher in a new era of global capitalism. This is my mission; this is my "American Dream."

All the best, be well and please serve others. JA