A native Nebraskan who now chairs Gallup in Washington, D.C. says the country must develop entrepreneurs to get out of its economic doldrums.
Gallup CEO Jim Clifton pulls no punches during a speech at the Platte Institute legislative summit.
“This economy is not in good shape and so you say, oh my God, how do we fix all this? We’ve been right here before,” Clifton tells the legislative summit.
Clifton relates a number of gloomy numbers to illustrate a fragile economic climate. He says 15 years ago, the United States had 8,000 public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. That has fallen to 3,700, leading Clifton to remark that free enterprise is in decline.
Good jobs track back to new business starts, according to Clifton, who adds start-ups and scale-ups of small businesses lead employment growth.
A sluggish economy causes people to reflect on past better times, but Clifton doesn’t believe we always read history correctly. He says too many looked back and assumed American innovation got us out of recession.
“You know what nobody did? Nobody stood up and said, ‘Are we sure?’” according to Clifton. “Because, if we’re wrong, it could put America on a very wrong track, one that absolutely breaks us.”
Clifton says wrong premises create wrong solutions. He says innovators invent, but rarely have the drive to turn their inventions into commercial products. That’s where entrepreneurs step in. He says they are the ones who develop the product and find the market. They create jobs.
Clifton asserts America has an over-supply of innovators and an under-supply of entrepreneurs, those with the grit and determination to start and build companies. He says Americans must develop the entrepreneurs needed to turn inventions into products and they don’t need Washington to do it.
“It think the point is that if you and I don’t fix this, I don’t think anybody else is.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]
AUDIO: Gallup CEO Jim Clifton addresses the Platte Institute legislative summit. [44 min.]