AOL founder, entrepreneur and investor Steve Case spells out the four steps he believes need to be taken in order to bolster entrepreneurial growth in “Middle America” – the great expanse between Silicon Valley and New York.

Case, an investor in N.C. firms who touts “Rise of the Rest” as part of his investment strategy at Revolution LLC, issued in USA Today a call for a nationwide transformation:

“Invest in and nurture the innovation and entrepreneurial talent that exist outside of Silicon Valley and New York, to build great companies and more prosperous communities in the rest of the country,” he said.

Here are his four steps:

“First, we need to increase access to capital for start-ups and speedups in the heartland. We should simplify rules for crowdfunding so that future generations of entrepreneurs have easier access to investors. Additionally, we should create tax breaks and other incentives to drive investment in growth-starved regions.

“Second, real change will require more than a series of new regulations and tax incentives; it will necessitate a change in mind-set. Rise of the Rest cities are often too risk-averse and lack the fearlessness celebrated in places such as Silicon Valley. Cities need to deliberately nurture environments where both success — and failure — are embraced.

“Third, the nascent entrepreneurial communities I have visited are often fragmented, lacking the network effect that is critical in creating innovation hotbeds. Finding ways for founders to be more connected with each other and more connected to local industry and officials is vitally important.

“Finally, all cities need to create a more inclusive form of entrepreneurship where people from different backgrounds and expertise have the opportunity to pursue good ideas. Because, at the end of the day, the Rise of the Rest is primarily about stopping the flow of capital to the same people, in the same places, for the same ideas.”

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