Be Your Own Boss - States Can Help Unemployed Start Their Own Business

3:32 PM October 12, 2012

Starting a business is job creation. Simple idea right? What's so painfully clear to us, especially those WIPP members who have built their businesses from the ground up, isn't so easily understood in Washington. But this is beginning to change. Earlier this year, the Department of Labor (DOL) released model guidance for states to implement a self-employment assistance (SEA) program.


SEA programs are an innovative way for unemployed Americans to use their skills to start a business. Instead of seeking employement through traditional means, SEA allows individuals to continue receiving unemployment insurance, while receiving business assistance to start their own business.


In order to encourage states to put SEA programs in place, the Department of Labor issued model language for states to follow and they will help pay for it. DOL has set aside $35 million in grant funding for states to tap into.


The task at hand is to convince lawmakers in state capitols, who must approve a plan to starrt a SEA program in their state, that starting a business is job creation. Alternatively, the governor of  a state can, via executive order, enter into a memorandum of understanding with DOL to put a program in place. Either way, it is imperative that we continue to build public awareness around self-employment assistance.


In an innovative effort to get a SEA program up and running in California, the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), a WIPP partner organization has launched a petition - Help Unemployed BYOB - Be Your Own Boss - calling on state leaders to implement and support a SEA program in California. California as had double-digit unemployment for more than three years. In this time of persistent high unemployment, any means of encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation is a win-win.


If California implements a program, it will be eligible to receive $5.3 million in grant money, which could benefit a potential 20,000 entrepreneurs. The SEA program would allow unemployed workers to continue to receive or maintain their unemployment insurance benefits while they start their own small business - a full time job in and of itself - without having to look for other full time work.


Currently, there are seven states that have implemented SEA programs. That's means that there are 43 states missing out on the opportunity to encourage entrepreneurship and assist people starting a business and creating a job for themselves and others in their communities. I'm excited about the work CAMEO is doing in California and I encourage you to reach out to your state legislators about a SEA program in your state.


For more information on the Self-Employment Assistance, check out the Department of Labor's website here.


For more information on CAMEO's Help Unemployed BYOB - Be Yourn Own Boss campaign, click here.



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