June 2016

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The United Kingdom’s elections are often a leading indicator for our own, as is evidenced with the emergence of conservatism, centrist liberalism and fiscal austerity. Last week’s emphatic decision to leave the European Community could be the next one.

In some ways, it was predictable. Think about the psychological underpinnings of the European Union: In the 1950s, a consensus formed in Germany and France that to prevent further wars, Germany had to be closely tied to its neighbors. At the same time, Germans feared inflation was the incipient cause of its decline.

These two factors have driven behavior in Europe since then. France and Germany enjoyed closer economic integration, and that alleviated Germans’ fear of inflation. That bonding trend spread across the continent, explaining the desire for open borders between EU member nations. The union produced regulations promoting uniformity of labor markets and the austerity movement designed to help Europe recover from the 2008 recession. However, the EU, while offering solutions for its members has also created fundamental problems.

Immigration and government indebtedness have created fault lines in the EU’s strength. It couldn’t…

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Imagine how much happier you would be at tax time if your IRS filing came to you pre-populated with your income and deductions, so all you had to do was sign and wait for your refund. Or, if you could apply for disability payments and arrange for direct deposit over the Internet. How about being able to start a new company online in minutes? Wouldn’t you like to be able to discover when your personal data was accessed by a government employee?

Estonians can do things like this. But not us Americans.

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I shared my views on business growth during a talk with entrepreneurs in Hawaii last week. Far away from Washington, D.C., I learned from my audience several very important things about our region’s place in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The first thing that struck me was how our capital region has a powerful influence on many of the innovators I met. Forever Oceans , a company offering high-tech ways to curb overfishing and foster sustainability, was seeded by significant federal funding. It uses technology spun out of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest government contractors in our region.

Etaphase is a material sciences start-up developing new materials that could dramatically change data transmission and the energy consumption of existing communications equipment. Again, the company was seeded by federal dollars and because the technology has national security benefits, the company has a growing nexus to our region.

The W.M. Keck Observatory atop Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Kea volcano is leading the charge on planet discovery and other major discoveries of the nature of our universe. As recently as last week it was in the news illuminating the nature of galactic expansion. NASA is a partner.

There I was, 4,772 miles from home, yet I kept seeing evidence of just how pervasive Washington’s influence is on technology innovation.

Beyond technology, Hawaiians use another technique entrepreneurs in the greater Washington region have harnessed…

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The Kauffman Foundation, the widely followed nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship, has provided another important validation that the greater Washington region is a business-forming hotspot.

According to the foundation, the greater Washington region is the number one entrepreneurial location in the United States. And, Virginia and Maryland are the number one and number two most entrepreneurial states. Nationally, the areas of entrepreneurship with the most growth are industries where our region has an established ecosystem of growing companies: IT, advertising and marketing, business products and services, healthcare and software.

Given those findings, it is important for us to ask why. Why are we such profitable entrepreneurs here? Which factors make us a success and how do we foster those factors to drive us to heightened success?

It’s not enough for us to…

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