News Column

Bill Would Spur Entrepreneurial Development

Aug. 3, 2012

Jack Katzanek

A California congresswoman has proposed a bill that would direct local workforce agencies to develop training programs that would turn more job-seekers into self-employed entrepreneurs.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, introduced the Entrepreneurial Training Improvement Act in May. It would force local Workforce Investment Boards, the agencies that decide how federal job-training money will be spent and administer these programs locally, to increase programs geared toward self-employment.

This bill would not actually create new services because these local boards are already authorized to provide them to would-be entrepreneurs, Capps said in a statement issued when she introduced the bill.

But she added that very few boards focus on this now because documenting the outcome of an attempt at self-employment is difficult. The U.S. Department of Labor, which funds local agencies, expects to see results in exchange for the money.

However, many entrepreneurs go through a start-up period where they may earn almost no money. That's one of the reasons workforce boards tend to focus on traditional job creation and placement, she said.

"We can't overlook the importance of the smallest of businesses -- our innovative entrepreneurs," Capps said in the statement.

Congress is also working to update the laws that created the workforce investment process, and Capps' bill might work in tandem with a new system, said Jamil Dada, chairman of Riverside County's board. Dada, who has also chaired the national workforce investment organization, said the revised system would likely lean on local entrepreneurs to support these programs.

"Right now our feet are held to the fire," Dada said of local board's efforts. "We're expected to show them results."

Instead, stressing small business development, with advisory help from existing small businesses, would help retraining efforts, something experts say is urgently needed.

In the Inland area, Riverside County has an arrangement with the Small Business Development Center, a counseling service affiliated with the Small Business Administration, to encourage these tactics.

Also, San Bernardino County's workforce board recently launched a training program for 60 persons to learn entrepreneurial skills, a full-year program that includes mentoring. The goal is to set participants up in either an Internet start-up or service-sector business that doesn't cost much to launch and can provide the graduate with an income.

Capps' bill is currently in the House Education and Workforce Committee, and the time element means it probably will not advance this year, Capps spokesperson Ashley Schapito said in a Thursday, Aug. 2, interview. Congress is close to adjourning for its summer recess and will be back for only a short time before representatives go home hoping to get themselves re-elected.

Schapito said Capps would probably reintroduce the bill to the next Congress in 2013.

"Based on the feedback we've heard from our folks back home, people are supportive" of this bill, Schapito said.



Source: (c)2012 The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services