E Screw The Valley: A Coast-to-Coast Tour Of America’s New Tech Startup Culture - Book Excerpt

Note: The following excerpt is from "Screw the Valley: A Coast-to-Coast Tour of America’s New Tech Startup Culture: New York, Boulder, Austin, Raleigh, Detroit, Las Vegas, Kansas City," published in January 2015 by BenBella Books. It is reprinted here with permission.

Shortly before his scheduled State of the Union address in January 2011, President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and a group of leaders from the private industry set off on a road trip through the hard-hit upper Midwest—the so-called “Rust Belt.” The trip was part of the kickoff for the administration’s new small business development program, Startup America. The idea was to focus attention on high-growth, high- potential startup companies in areas like information technology, clean energy, and software by publicizing a series of new Small Business Administration–backed loans that were being offered to startup founders to help get their companies off the ground.

It was an auspicious way to kick off this new initiative, but the White House had a lot on the line at the time. With the wounds from the 2008–09 recession still raw, job growth and economic development were critical issues for the administration heading into an election year, and the Obama team was prepared to go all in on the promise of America’s entrepreneurs.

“This mission to promote entrepreneurship is a core component of President Obama’s national innovation strategy for achieving sustainable growth and quality jobs,” the White House wrote on its blog at the time. “Not only do startups bring a wealth of transformative innovations to market, they also play a critical role in job creation across the United States. Those entrepreneurs who are intent on growing their businesses create the lion’s share of these new jobs, in every part of the country and in every industry. Moreover, it is entrepreneurs in clean energy, medicine, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and other fields who will build the new industries of the twenty-first century and solve some of our toughest global challenges.”

Northeast Ohio was a particularly effective place to kick off this new push. The manufacturing sector has been a key part of the Cleveland-area economy for generations—thanks to local companies like Procter & Gamble (PG), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), Hoover, the NCR Corporation (NCR), and others—and was particularly hard hit by the downturn, leaving many in the region out of work. What’s worse, these former manufacturing workers often found themselves underskilled and unable to compete in the new, technology- based economy. The numbers don’t lie. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 15 million people working in manufacturing in the United States as of 2003. By 2013, that number had tumbled to less than 12 million.

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Ayelet Wolf 6 years ago Member's comment

Looks really interesting, I'll definitely be picking up a copy of this book, thanks!