President Obama called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act a “game-changing” bill moments before singing it into law Thursday afternoon.
The JOBS Act is a bipartisan bill which aims to make it easier for startups to grow, hire employees and contribute to the United States’ sluggish economic recovery.
The bill classifies startups as “emerging growth companies” that can turn to online investors to raise much-sought-after startup capital — similar to how websites such as Kickstarter let users raise money for films, books or other projects.
Those companies would also be able to sell up to $50 million in shares before having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and have up to 1,000 shareholders — double the current limitation.
“One of the great things about America is that we’re a nation of doers,” said President Obama at a White House signing ceremony, where he was flanked by members of Congress and some of the nation’s top entrepreneurs.
“We think big, take risks and believe that anyone with a solid plan and a willingness to work hard can take even the most improbable idea and turn it into a solid business.”
Supporters of the bill, including AOL co-founder Steve Case, welcome it as a sign that politicians are beginning to understand the vital role entrepreneurs play in the American economy.
Case has been an extremely vocal supporter of the JOBS Act. He raised support for the bill in the tech community and amongst entrepreneurs, politicians and the general public.
“It’s a sign that folks in D.C. came together in a bipartisan way to focus on the role that entrepreneurs play in innovating and creating jobs and putting policies in place that will maximize the likelihood of the U.S. remaining one of the world’s most entrepreneurial countries,” Case told Mashable.
“The US isn’t the leading nation of the world by accident. It was the work of entrepreneurs that led us to be the leading economy in the world. Entrepreneurship is the fast track to job creation.”
Case says the JOBS Act is only a first step in a larger fight to make it easier for entrepreneurs to create new businesses, hire more workers and create economic growth.
“There’s still work to be done,” added Case, pointing to high-tech immigration as the next challenge. “There’s a balance in celebrating this achievement and thanking everyone that made this possible. Overall, it’s going to be a good step forward and a good day for entrepreneurship in America.”
The bill was hailed as a rare bipartisan success by Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Majority Leader.
“Both parties in Congress, the President and entrepreneurs like Steve Case came together on this bill that will increase capital formation and pave the way for more small-scale businesses to go public and create jobs,” said Cantor in a statement.
“The bipartisan JOBS Act represents an increasingly rare legislative victory in Washington where both sides seized the opportunity to work together, improved the bill and passed it with strong bipartisan support.”
House Republicans introduced the bill late last year. It sailed through the House on a 390-23 vote, but met fierce opposition from some Senate Democrats. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued that the JOBS Act goes too far in deregulating business and warned Congress would regret passing the bill.
The Senate passed the bill in late March on a 73-26 vote after amending it to tighten up investment restrictions and requiring startups to disclose financial information to investors. That vote sent it back to the House, where the amended version passed last week 380-41.
President Obama was an early supporter of the JOBS Act and was widely expected to sign it without delay.
Image courtesy of Steve Case