We know some of their names—Samuel Morse, Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Ray Croc, Mary Kay Ash, Bill Hewlett, Sam Walton, Fred Smith, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg. Such people are not notable merely because they amassed great wealth, or because they led corporations of enormous consequence, or because they achieved a kind of celebrity status. Rather, they are illustrious members of the pantheon of American capitalism because they launched iconic companies like Ford, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Mary Kay, Walmart, Federal Express, CNN, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook from scratch—in the basement, on the dining room table, in college dorm rooms, in their parents’ garage—forever altering the nation’s economic landscape and creating jobs, careers, and wealth for millions of Americans. They, and countless others like them, are the visionaries, the innovators, the risk-takers—the entrepreneurs.

As people who have spent our careers in various positions within economic and financial policymaking, we certainly knew that entrepreneurship is a marvelous and critically important aspect of our nation’s economy. We understood that new businesses are an important source of the remarkable dynamism and innovation that defines the American economy. We understood that new businesses bring new ideas, new technologies, and new products and services ...

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