By Matthew Harang

From blue jeans to apple pie—there’s no place on earth like the United States. We are a nation of immigrants. We willingly migrated from all across the globe to chase the American dream of freedom, prosperity and peace. Much of our strength lies in our diversity. Sadly, since 9/11, America has faced difficult times: economically, politically, and even socially. Steadily high rates of unemployment, coupled with growing world economic competition have backed our country into a corner in which poverty is growing, and the income gap is widening. This has caused political panic, with Conservatives pointing the finger at Liberals, and vice versa. We have forgotten how to create, how to shape our own success, how to invent and change the future for the better. This is largely because we have forgotten how to work together.

A New Wave of Invention

Creating new industries by encouraging innovation in America could effectively deal with economic issues such as the national debt, unemployment and underemployment. Economists are disappointed and reporting monthly on the lack of new jobs being created. We need to think differently in order to forge ahead in a positive direction. We need to come together to create new areas of commerce. Creating a domino effect of new fields and technologies developing well-paying middle class jobs, an increase in revenue and exports, while lowering the national debt and trade deficit. The formula is quite simple: invent something great, implement it, create jobs, taxes and distribute wealth. Execution is the difficult part.

Now is the time to embrace the spirit of innovation that embodies this country’s history. Originality is at the core of what makes this country great. At one time, the USA was a global leader in nearly every industry—producing great thinkers, pioneers and inventors who changed the course of world history. They invented oil wells, light bulbs, telephones, photographic film, airplanes, automobile assembly lines, the digital computer, the Internet among many others. Each of these innovations changed the world in different ways. But in recent decades, the U.S. has lost its competitive edge in education, especially in math and science. Without a renewed focus in these subjects, it will become increasingly difficult to produce the human capital and the brilliant minds to develop new industries, fields and technologies.

Education, Policy & Entrepreneurship

The world is a dynamic place; it is changing constantly and billion-dollar ideas are born around the world every day. Yet, in order for an idea be cultivated and brought into business production it must grow and mature in a healthy environment. Innovation has to be encouraged in every level of education from pre-school through the university. Students must be encouraged to innovate, rather than being placed in boxes and encouraged to regurgitate information from textbooks. It seems that in recent decades, creativity has been squashed instead of rewarded. Young minds need to be challenged to think outside the box, experiment hands-on, challenging traditional mechanisms and ideas.

All innovation starts with education. Without knowledge it is impossible to create. But the big idea and execution are not all that is required to create impactful change. The idea, product or industry must receive the proper government support as well to succeed on a larger scale. Consider the electric vehicle. One reason of the primary reasons that they’ve taken so long to hold a significant share of the market is the government’s support of gasoline automobiles due to the industry’s history as a major employer. That being said, it is important for policymakers at all levels of government to support these new industries from a tax, property and political standpoint. After all, if our nation doesn’t support innovation, the USA will continue to erode its competitive advantage.

We must come together to continue to support entrepreneurship politically and economically. Many countries overseas are making it easier for business owners to start, grow and expand their ventures. American policymakers must also focus on laws enabling entrepreneurship in order to encourage innovative businesses and new cutting-edge industries.

Lastly, businessmen must cultivate their own tools in order to build business models that will survive and thrive in today’s market. Business today is all about creative marketing. Without the proper presence in customer’s conscious minds, even the best ideas are lost amongst the constant marketing on TV, billboards and social media. Without the proper investment and cultivation of an idea, it is bound to fail. It is important for business owners to support innovators and inventors, pressing for new ideas, new solutions to old problems, and new ways to improve upon existing products.

A Holistic Approach

Leaders at both the federal and state levels must set aside partisan politics, and join hands to capitalize on the diverse human capital of this country. Our economic issues are no longer a left or right wing problem—they are an American problem. Our lack of innovation is not just an education issue, or a business issue, it is both of those combined. Thus, educators, students, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and public administrators must work side by side in the name of innovation. Together, we can begin tackling this beast by doing what we do best: rolling up our sleeves and working hard—together. Innovation is the vehicle to carve a more positive future, but everyone will have to jump on board in order for the wheels to start turning.