Legislation to Support Entrepreneurs

On February 19th, I had the opportunity to testify in support of SB 328, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) bill, authored by Senator John Carona, at a hearing of the Texas Senate Government Organization Committee in the State Capitol in Austin. The bill is designed to help encourage the hiring of entrepreneurs-in-residence in state government.

Seizing the opportunity to share best practices, Dell has been leading the effort in working with state-level and Federal policy makers to help entrepreneurs deal with the regulatory process that is part of starting and growing a new business. On July 12, 2012, Congressman Mike Honda (CA) introduced H.R. 6119, the Entrepreneur-In-Residence Act of 2012, House companion to S. 3222, introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Cong. Honda recognized Dell’s EIR initiative as a “shining example” of the EIR model for listening and acting on what entrepreneurs need to take their businesses to the next level.

State-level EIR bills, including Texas’ SB 328, encourage state agencies to hire EIRs, using existing funds, with the goals of:

  1. Improving government’s outreach to the private sector
  2. Improving coordination between government and the private sector
  3. Educating government about how technology can help it be more transparent and interactive
  4. Adopting best business practices to make government programs simpler, easier to access, more efficient, and more responsive to users

The EIR program is beginning to be employed across a broad range of public sector entities in the U.S. Many universities have one or more EIRs. The federal government is adding EIRs in several agencies. For example, EIRs at the federal Food and *** Administration have created an Innovation Pathway to help bring safe and effective medical devices to American patients faster, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is using EIRs to streamline the visa process for immigrant entrepreneurs. And the President’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, is a former federal agency EIR.

Several cities have created EIR programs – including New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and New Orleans (through a federal initiative) – to attract startups, mentor entrepreneurs, and connect them with economic development information and resources.

We see an opportunity for Texas to take the lead and create one of the first state EIR programs in the country. We’re happy to be a laboratory to experiment to see what might work. And we understand other states are considering similar legislation this year. Virginia’s legislature already has passed such a bill (SB 1195) and sent it to the governor for his signature. The Tennessee legislature is considering a bill, as are the legislatures in Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

I am eager to see policy that supports entrepreneurship, both internal and external, within government. Dell has experienced a great deal of success from its innovation efforts that focus on building bridges to small-to-medium-sized businesses. A Texas state government EIR program, too, has the potential to build better bridges between state government agencies and entrepreneurs, allowing entrepreneurs and growing businesses to get their products and services to market without facing unnecessary government regulatory delays. That is our objective in promoting the EIR concept.

If you’re interested in learning more about these legislative efforts, please contact Dell’s Fran Valluzzo.

About the Author: Ingrid Vanderveldt