Establishing a U.S. Entrepreneurial Corps to Foster an Inclusive Small Business Ecosystem

Authors: Daniel Goetzel, Chris Grant, and Sam Birnbaum


The next administration should create a U.S. Entrepreneurial Corps (“E-Corps”), a program to train, invest in, and build networks for the next generation of small business leaders. E-Corps should include three components: 1) a national network of 1,000 small business incubators co-located at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and at Land-Grant Universities, 2) a competitively selected cohort of 2,000 small business connectors to staff the incubators, and 3) underrepresented entrepreneurs to participate in the program. E-Corps reimagines the Federal Government’s approach to building an inclusive small business ecosystem by providing support to community anchor institutions while connecting underrepresented entrepreneurs to capital and historically inaccessible networks of financiers and advisors. E-Corps will become the connective tissue for entrepreneurial communities across our country, spanning both urban and rural communities.

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About the Authors

Daniel Goetzel works at Columbia University where he leads an initiative to expand corporate partnership efforts across the institution. For the past year, he has run a multi-million dollar cybersecurity startup accelerator initiative in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and four New York City universities. Prior to that, he was the Inaugural Director of Innovation and Corporate Relations at Johns Hopkins University. He started his career working in senior roles for a governor, U.S. Senator, and presidential candidate. Daniel received his MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and his bachelor’s degree from Emory University.

Chris Grant is a member of the founding team at Blueprint Local, an investment platform that seeks to invest in economically distressed areas with the goal of generating attractive financial returns and meaningful social impact. Chris serves as an Investment Manager at Blueprint Local, where he leads deals across the Southeast region. Chris received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his bachelor’s degree from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Sam Birnbaum works in affordable housing development. He has nearly a decade of experience in urban policy, poverty mitigation, and governance issues in the U.S. and abroad. Sam received his MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. Sam and Daniel met at the Harvard Kennedy School, where they co-founded an initiative known asTransition Term to support new governors and mayors in their transitions from campaigning to governing.