Entrepreneurs create most new jobs: Why aren’t we talking about them?

In recent weeks, there has been talk about a possible recession and tools policymakers should use to protect American workers and the domestic economy. Some are talking about protection of jobs from global competition. Others talk about addressing income inequality. Still others refer to a menu of options, calling for interest rate cuts, tax cuts, and increased tax incentives.

Missing almost entirely from the national discussion is entrepreneurship. This despite the fact that entrepreneurs, not big businesses, are responsible for almost all net new job creation.

For too long, many policymakers have pushed entrepreneurship to the side, prioritizing support for big business over new and small businesses.

Too many have ignored the troubling trends that show a stubborn 20-year stagnation in the rate of new business formation, which jeopardizes our entire economy. And too many have been indifferent to disparities in access to entrepreneurship for women, people of color and rural residents.

Today, there is a hole at the center of our economic discussion where hope should be. But there is a glimmer of hope ahead.

On Tues. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), co-chairs of the first-ever bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus, will convene a caucus roundtable discussion to highlight a neglected segment of America’s entrepreneurial community — women entrepreneurs — and to talk about barriers to entrepreneurship that need addressed.

At the roundtable, I expect entrepreneurs to tell the Senators what all the available data on entrepreneurship backs up: that if you don’t live on one of the coasts, it’s very difficult to access the capital and resources needed to make an idea a reality.

That if you don’t have access to significant personal wealth, your idea — no matter how viable — is far more likely to die on the vine. That unless you’re a big, established business with lobbyists and an army of attorneys to do your bidding, navigating all the red tape will make it a whole lot more difficult to get traction.

If you aren’t white and male, all these challenges will be that much more difficult to overcome.

The newly formed Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus will help shine a light on the unique needs of those who are denied equal access to entrepreneurship today. While women make up half the population, and people of color soon will, these constituencies are vastly underrepresented in American entrepreneurship.

Most new businesses don’t get bank loans or venture capital, but among the small percent who do get VC funding, just two percent goes to businesses launched by women and just one percent goes to businesses launched by people of color.

Given that the discussion takes place in Congress, perhaps the most relevant question is: what can government do to help promote new businesses?

How can governments at every level — federal, state and local — create the conditions where women can start more new businesses?

How do we increase access to capital for women entrepreneurs?

What about safety net programs like health care, family leave and housing? Given that women are the primary caregivers for children — and often for aging parents — can we do more to give women entrepreneurs the support and confidence to take risks?

In the coming months we will hear a lot of debate on topics like taxes, tariffs, and interest rates. There will likely be strong partisan differences on these issues.

Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, should appeal to people of every political stripe. So, let’s seize this chance to come together and launch a new golden age of entrepreneurship in our country. Next week’s Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus roundtable with two-dozen remarkable women entrepreneurs is a great start.