News digest: White House unleashes entrepreneurial spirit, but what about Chicago?


 White House backs startups but  ignores Chicago.

The White House launched Startup America Monday to  support more entrepreneurial ventures and homegrown innovation, according to a White House release.    As part of the initiative, President Barack Obama said he would propose to Congress a permanent capital gains tax exclusion for some small business investments, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Small Business Administration  announced a commitment of $2 billion in two separate funds that will provide matching dollars to entrepreneurial ventures. The impact investment fund is designed to help underserved communities, while the early-stage innovation fund offers funding for high-growth startups that need between $1 million and $4 million.  

Veterans Affairs to open incubator in Waukesha.  

 It’s close but no cigar for Chicago. With funding from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Waukesha, Wis., will open a new business incubator to provide training and mentoring to  early-stage veteran-owned businesses. Chicago did not make the list of cities identified as receiving new federal funding or new programming for entrepreneurship.

Signs of economic improvement.

World Business Chicago’s monthly By the Numbers report shows economic progress on several fronts in the Chicago region. November’s  unemployment rate hit  9.0 percent, down from 10.3 percent the prior year. Consumer confidence increased by  10 percent. And  the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index climbed more than 10 percent from a year ago.  More information is available in the group’s Chicago By the Numbers table.

Small businesses add jobs.

Small business employment rose about 0.3 percent in January, which translates to about 70,000 new jobs nationwide, according to Intuit Payroll January Small Business Employment Index. Illinois also saw a 0.3 percent increase in employment from the prior month among companies with fewer than 20 employees. As small businesses generally recover sooner than big business, the continued growth is quite encouraging for economic recovery, economist Susan Woodward said in a news release.  Intuit, based in Mountain View, Calif., surveyed nearly 60,000 small business employers who used its online payroll service.