The Creative Coast joins Start Us Up Coalition


Start Us Up Coalition Features Bipartisan Policy Agenda for Local, State, and Federal Policymakers to Reduce Barriers to Entrepreneurship for Women, People of Color, and Rural Residents

In response to the economic crisis that has hit new and small business owners particularly hard, The Creative Coast has joined the Start Us Up coalition — led by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and comprising more than 190 entrepreneurship advocacy groups and organizations across the country. The Creative Coast and Start Us Up are urging policymakers to take steps to address the immediate and long-term needs of entrepreneurs through the coalition’s COVID-19 crisis response plan, Rebuilding Better.

New and small businesses are at extreme risk in the COVID-19 crisis: between February and April this year, the number of business owners declined by a record 3.3 million, with Black and Latinx business owners being hit particularly hard.

The crisis response plan is a bipartisan roadmap for policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels that offers a framework for stabilizing the economy today, while helping to reshape entrepreneurship in the future, making it more accessible to those who have been historically denied the tools they need to start and grow a business. The agenda calls for, among other things, reforming business licensing procedures to reduce red tape and designating a share of the federal bailout dollars for the newest and smallest businesses.

“Large, established companies get the seats at the table, and we end up with solutions that make it easier for the big to get bigger,” said Kauffman Foundation President and CEO Wendy Guillies. “Meanwhile small firms – especially those led by women, minorities, and rural residents – are left behind and new ones can’t even start. We can rebuild better.”

The Kauffman Foundation’s 2020 State of Entrepreneurship findings show entrepreneurship being vital to the economic recovery but American entrepreneurs facing increased inequalities and barriers in being able to start new businesses. During the fallout of COVID-19, 68% of American entrepreneurs believed government was prioritizing big business over small business.

Even before the crisis took hold, women, people of color, and rural Americans faced unique hurdles to starting a business. Seventy-five percent of venture capital supports entrepreneurs in only three states: California, Massachusetts, and New York. Meanwhile, only 2% of venture capital flows to women-led firms, and just 1% to firms led by African-Americans. As result of these and other disparities, 15% of female entrepreneurs and 13% of entrepreneurs of color said it was easy to start a business, compared to 34% of male entrepreneurs.

The Rebuilding Better policy roadmap is divided into short-term and long-term actions and organized around the four core needs all entrepreneurs have:

  • Funding: Equal access to the right kind of capital everywhere
  • Opportunity: A level playing field with less red tape
  • Knowledge: The know-how to start a business
  • Support: The ability for all to take risks


About Start Us Up:

Start Us Up is a diverse group of organizations working together to eliminate barriers to starting new businesses. For more information, visit us at

About The Creative Coast:

The Creative Coast builds and supports the creative economy in Savannah through education & social programs that connect and foster local innovation in both large and small companies. The Creative Coast is made possible through the support and help of the City of Savannah and the Savannah Economic Development Authority.