Fitzpatrick, Blunt Rochester Announce Jobs Investment Bill

‘SOAR Act’ incentivizes investment in new and underserved areas

October 17, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA – This week, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) announced the introduction of the Startup Opportunity Accelerator (SOAR) Act – bipartisan legislation that incentivizes investment in new and underserved areas by directing a portion of funds toward applicants that fill geographic gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We know growth accelerators work at stimulating investment and job creation but too often those gains are concentrated and leave American workers and entrepreneurs in rural, rural, suburban, and urban areas behind,” said Fitzpatrick. “Working with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, we’ve come up with a measure to support growth in underserved communities – wherever they are – by empowering entrepreneurs with essential services like experienced leadership, office space, access to financing opportunities, and structured mentorship. Together we can plant the seeds of nationwide growth.”

“Our economy is driven by the entrepreneurs and small businesses who are investing in innovation for the future,” said Blunt Rochester. “By investing in programs like SOAR, we can drive economic growth in underserved areas and further empower entrepreneurs, including women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. I’m thrilled to be introducing this bill with Congressman Fitzpatrick and I’m hopeful that together, we can shepherd this bill to passage.”

The SOAR Act builds on a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund competition, in which accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystems compete for funding to grow and expand their reach to engage more startups and new communities. The program has existed for three years at the SBA, offering prizes to accelerators across the country and in Puerto Rico. The SBA reported that the program in 2014 and 2015 funded 138 accelerators that supported 5,000 companies that raised approximately $1.5 billion and employ nearly 20,000 people. The 2017 version of SOAR would authorize $6 million in funding each year for 5 years.

Specifically, the SOAR Act funding would provide:

  • Oversight and transparency of the program
  • Funding offered through a competitive prize program for organizations supporting early-stage startups including new and existing accelerator programs, incubators, and universities
  • Targeted focus on encouraging growth accelerators that address key geographic and demographic gaps, including women, veterans, minority-entrepreneurs, individuals with disabilities, and rural communities
  • Increased funding which will allow the SBA to continue to expand the strength of growth accelerators across the country

Incubation and accelerator programs provide entrepreneurs with essential services and are critical to efforts to create an environment where startups can grow and thrive. Most of these programs offer services to entire cohorts of startups, thereby encouraging startup clusters that are more likely to attract venture and equity capital to the region.

While the number of accelerators has grown by more than ten times between 2008 and 2015—from 16 to 170, according to the Brookings Institution, the majority of growth has taken place in high-income, well-established regions.