Crafting More Jobs

In a previous post, I highlighted the American dream story of Raleigh Denim.

Raleigh Denim jeans are unique, hand produced jeans sewn in America by people who are paid at least a living wage working in clean and safe conditions. The raw materials are sourced from other North Carolina companies which also employ residents paid for their skill, knowledge and expertise of making premium denim, thread, zippers, labels and buttons. Their jeans are not cheap, but they are built from the best possible locally sourced materials by experts.

This was a conscious choice by Raleigh Denim – Sarah Lytvinenko explains:

The process is as important as the product.

It’s safe to assume that after these folks end their workday they proceed back into their communities where they exchange those earned wages for other goods and services, thereby extending the benefit of the dollars paid for those jeans throughout the North Carolina economy. They are a real world example of what Umair Haque calls the value economy.

Luckily, we’re all invested in Raleigh Denim’s success, because our tax dollars provided the necessary loan for them to create those 14 manufacturing jobs. That is good, because without SBA backed loans, they probably would not have attracted angel or venture funding, most of which flows towards sexier segments such as technology and bio-tech.

I’m at a loss to explain why nobody is jumping into this obviously under-served market – a Y Combinator type seed fund for makers is an untapped well of opportunity.

Government backed loans are at best a band-aid – SBA loans are only available to successful, growing businesses, whereas seed funds such as Y Combinator allow entrepreneurs to test and trial prospective businesses. Until early seed capital is widely available to passionately curious makers like the Lytvinenko’s, we’re in for a rocky recovery. 1,000 similar companies would create 14,000 new jobs, more than ten percent of the 125,000 jobs we need to add monthly to keep up with population growth. It is vitally important to realize and fund job development that benefit everyone, not just the educated few. Just as we need diversity in start-up teams, we also need increased diversity in funded industry sectors.

Next up – job creation solutions.

Born or Made?

There are two schools of thought regarding entrepreneurs – either that you’re born with the traits and qualities to be a successful entrepreneur, or that entrepreneurial skills can be learned. Given the crucial role start up businesses play in our economy, it’s clear nurturing has to be considered a viable method of increased start up businesses, especially for non-traditional entrepreneurs (women, minorities, people with disabilities).

A recent Standford panel discussion on this topic:

Thanks to Steve Blank for the heads up on the video, and to Tim Kane for the latest post about this Kauffman study.