In the current economic storm, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Even the biggest storm will eventually pass. We will emerge from our shelters, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and move on.
When this storm blows over, all of the world’s problems — and attendant opportunities — will still be there. Except this time, the landscape will look a little different.
On January 20, 2009, a new administration took office. In his inaugural address, Obama expressed strong support for entrepreneurs, saying:
“…it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
The incoming administration is a strong proponent of innovation in science, technology, healthcare, and the environment. On the agenda: a long-term plan for U.S. leadership in five critical areas, supported by heavy investment.
Here’s what the administration had to say on whitehouse.gov:
21st-century technology and telecommunications have flattened communications and labor markets and have contributed to a period of unprecedented innovation, making us more productive, connected global citizens. By maximizing the power of technology, we can strengthen the quality and affordability of our healthcare, advance climate-friendly energy development and deployment, improve education throughout the country, and ensure that America remains the world’s leader in technology. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will:
- Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems: Use health information technology to lower the cost of health care. Invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.
- Invest in Climate-Friendly Energy Development and Deployment: Invest $150 billion over the next ten years to enable American engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid. This investment will transform the economy and create 5 million new jobs.
- Modernize Public Safety Networks: Spur the development and deployment of new technologies to promote interoperability, broadband access, and more effective communications among first responders and emergency response systems.
- Advance the Biomedical Research Field: Support investments in biomedical research, as well as medical education and training in health-related fields. Fund biomedical research, and make it more efficient by improving coordination both within government and across government/private/non-profit partnerships.
- Advance Stem Cell Research: Support increased stem cell research. Allow greater federal government funding on a wider array of stem cell lines.
The proposed $800+ billion stimulus package goes several steps further. In his first weekly video address, President Obama stated:
“This is not just a short-term program to boost employment. It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education, health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.”
The stimulus bill also includes hundreds of millions for SBA loan guarantees and direct lending to entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the administration proposes added funding to incubate new ventures. The National Business Incubator Association said:
In today’s economic climate, there’s a new focus at both the state and national level on entrepreneurship and entrepreneur support. In the U.S., there’s talk at the federal level about increased support for and possible development of new business incubation programs to help those who have lost employment. A portion of President-elect Obama’s Small Business Emergency Rescue Plan is focused specifically on “creating a national network of public-private business incubators” and states that his administration “will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.”
Entrepreneurs working to solve fundamental problems in fields such as healthcare, green energy, education, and telecommunications will see unprecedented financial support and opportunities for bringing their innovations to market. The biggest winners will be those who start now, while others wait for the recession to pass.
These are turbulent times, to be sure, but just over the horizon is a sea of opportunity awaiting those who stick it out.