Dear President Obama: Small business is the ticket!

March 5, 2009

Writing in the Washington Post on Wednesday, the CEO and founder of job networking site LinkedIn outlined a 3-step plan for riding out the economic crisis. Reid Hoffman, who also penned a WaPo op-ed Tuesday, is a big believer in the power of small business and supports a bailout plan aimed at helping these start-ups. Current plans to sink money into infrastracture and scientific development, Hoffman writes, "is great for jobs in the short term but doesn't guarantee the vibrant economic ecosystem required for sustainability." He wants, instead, "incentives for business innovators." Microsoft, Burger King, Intel and FedEx are all cited as examples of small businesses that started during economic downturns and proceeded to enjoy immense success. Hoffman thinks the current administration should be "offering incentives for entrepeneurship and innovation." So what is that 3-step plan, exactly? First, Hoffman prefaces the list by saying: "I believe the real fix for the economy is massive entrepreneurship and innovation to create new jobs through new products and services." 1. Extend credit lines up to $50,000 to encourage small business loans 2. Abolish the cap on H-1B visas (these visas allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers temporarily in specialty occupations) and impose a 10 percent payroll tax for each visa. This way, Hoffman argues, H-1Bs will be used for skilled labor, not cheap labor--plus, it gives employers an incentive to hire local. 3. Match up to $100 million in stimulus funds for qualifying venture and angel investments (angel investors are individuals who provide capital for business start-ups) if they create jobs in the U.S.