U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Pushes for Economic Growth in Wisconsin with Small Business Innovation Act

Senator Baldwin renews commitment to boosting Wisconsin startups and entrepreneurs

National reform will support Wisconsin, which ranks last nationally in startup activity and entrepreneurship growth 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today renewed her commitment to fueling startups, entrepreneurs and economic growth in Wisconsin by reintroducing the Small Business Innovation Act. The legislation will help Wisconsin overcome its nation-low startup activity and entrepreneurship growth rankings by providing small businesses the capital they need to grow their companies and create jobs.

“Wisconsin has a proud history of entrepreneurship and innovation, but recent reports show that we need to strengthen and support our Made in Wisconsin startups and small businesses,” said Senator Baldwin. “In order to build long-term economic growth, we need to make strong investments in advanced manufacturing, innovation, science, research and technology. Small businesses are the engines of our economy and if we give our entrepreneurs, small business owners, and workers a fair shot, they will compete against anyone.”

Innovative small business startups can be a major driver of growth for Wisconsin’s economy, however, Wisconsin is struggling to grow in these areas. According to the annual Kauffman Foundation Index, Wisconsin ranked last in startup activity for the second year in a row and third-to-last in entrepreneurship growth among large states. In addition, Wisconsin continued to lag the nation in the latest quarterly census of job creation, ranking 33rd among the 50 states in the pace of job creation from March 2015 through March 2016.

Small businesses create a majority of new jobs, yet entrepreneurs in Wisconsin can struggle to access the capital necessary to grow. Last month, Senator Baldwin held a roundtable at Forward Fest to hear about the challenges Wisconsin small business startups face and discuss how to better support and strengthen Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Senator Baldwin’s Small Business Innovation Act provides investments in economic growth not through direct government funding, but through increased access to venture capital investments for small business startups. The legislation will help fuel small business and job creation by targeting growth industries including advanced manufacturing; biotechnology; clean energy; environmental and agricultural technology; digital and information technology; and water technology.

The Small Business Innovation Act also does something that Wisconsin’s state venture capital fund does not—it includes Wisconsin biotechnology and life sciences. Wisconsin has been a leader in the areas of science, research, biotechnology, energy efficiency and water technology, and more must be done to seize the opportunity to harness and support these assets.

Wisconsin entrepreneurs and business leaders have expressed strong support for Senator Baldwin’s Small Business Innovation Act:

“Senator Baldwin understands that small businesses are the backbone of the Wisconsin economy and the fuel driving our growth. New businesses create more jobs than all other companies, but not enough are being formed every year. The Small Business Innovation Act offers an opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between two of Wisconsin’s unique assets, our growing life sciences industry and the UW-Madison, one of the nation’s leading institutions for federally-funded research. This is an opportunity to create and keep highly-skilled, good-paying jobs right here in Wisconsin.” - Kevin Conroy, Chairman, President and CEO of Exact Sciences

“Using the Small Business Administration to leverage private venture capital in an effort to target high-growth industries makes sense for America’s innovation sector. Of special interest to private investors will be the requirement that qualified companies in the program will include recipients of federal merit-based grants, such as Small Business Innovation Research grants. These are tech-based companies that have already demonstrated commercial potential and have survived a rigorous competitive process to win such grants. For investors, that means significant due diligence has already taken place and their risk is reduced because they are investing in companies with demonstrated potential.” - Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council and Wisconsin Innovation Network

“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s efforts to provide access to more capital for Wisconsin businesses in high-growth, high-impact sectors. Greater Madison’s economy is driven by innovation clusters like biotechnology, research and software publishing. It is wise policy to maximize tools that leverage private investment to support the creation of more of these vital jobs in our economy.” - Zach Brandon, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce

More information on the Small Business Innovation Act is available here