Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

Inc. (USA) - - CONTENTS -

THE AMER­I­CAN DREAM HAS BEEN tak­ing its lumps lately. Re­searchers tell us that the gap be­tween rich and poor, by some mea­sures, is three times wider than it was just 30 years ago. Worse, only half of to­day’s Amer­i­cans in their 30s earn more than their par­ents did at the same age, com­pared with more than 90 per­cent of that group a gen­er­a­tion or two ago. Pes­simism reigns: We now know that if you call the United States a “hell­hole,” so many vot­ers will agree that you can be­come pres­i­dent. You could let that de­press you. But I sug­gest you first read this is­sue of Inc. Con­sider our cover sub­ject, Ar­mir Har­ris, an Al­ba­nian refugee who taught him­self English and pro­gram­ming, and whose com­pany, Sho­fur, has grown al­most 10,500 per­cent in three years. Or Chris Rick­er­son, a high school dropout with drug prob­lems who re­cov­ered to found Elite Staffing So­lu­tions of Wi­chita, Kansas, which em­ploys 2,400 peo­ple and has grown more than 2,500 per­cent. Both are prac­ti­cally poster kids for the Amer­i­can Dream.

For sheer Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity, con­sider An­drew Par­adise, CEO and co-founder of this year’s No. 1 Inc. 500 com­pany, Skillz, which is help­ing with the de­vel­op­ment of noth­ing less than a new in­dus­try, e-sports. In the process, Par­adise has in­creased rev­enue by more than 50,000 per­cent. Col­lec­tively, he and his fel­low Inc. 500 in­no­va­tors have cre­ated more than 49,000 jobs since 2013 and added $9.4 bil­lion to last year’s GDP.

It makes you wish that they were mak­ing eco­nomic pol­icy, doesn’t it? That’s our feel­ing, any­way, so we asked our 500 CEOs what they would like to see from law­mak­ers. The an­swers were fas­ci­nat­ing.

We learned that Inc. 500 founders, while sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to be Repub­li­can than Demo­crat, are hard to pin to any one dogma. Yes, they over­whelm­ingly sup­port lower tax rates on busi­ness. And why not? Ours are among the high­est in the world. On the other hand, they want Wash­ing­ton to fo­cus more on al­low­ing tal­ented im­mi­grants into the coun­try than on ban­ning the un­doc­u­mented, by a three-to-one mar­gin. And they are twice as likely to want to re­form the health care law than to re­peal it. As much as any­thing else, they want Wash­ing­ton to stop bick­er­ing and to cre­ate a sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment in which grow­ing busi­nesses can plan ahead.

Maybe that’s just how you think if you see the Amer­i­can econ­omy as a place of op­por­tu­nity rather than as a zero-sum game. The Inc. 500 told us they think de­ter­mi­na­tion, risk tak­ing, and vi­sion were the keys to their suc­cess, and I be­lieve them. Read­ing their sto­ries, it’s hard to ac­cept all that de­press­ing re­search and cam­paign rhetoric as des­tiny. The Inc. 500 are the most per­sua­sive ev­i­dence I know that the Amer­i­can Dream is still alive. See if you agree.

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