‘Self-Employment Assistance’: How We’re Helping Americans Help Themselves
In June of 2008, Adam Lowry and Michael Richardson found themselves unemployed. The tech startup where they worked in Portland, Vidoop, had just closed its doors, and employees were being offered company laptops in lieu of back wages. Common sense would dictate that these promising young programmers should file for unemployment insurance (UI) and begin their search for new employment—which they did. In a way.
After working at a startup, Lowry and Richardson caught the entrepreneurial bug and wanted to build a business for themselves. In order to do it right, they needed to devote a huge amount of time to building the business— a difficult undertaking if they were also searching for full-time jobs, as the unemployment office required.
Instead, these two friends availed themselves of a versatile and often underused form of unemployment insurance known as Self-Employment Assistance (SEA). The program gives entrepreneurs like Lowry and Richardson the freedom to collect unemployment insurance as well as guidance in small business development while starting their own businesses. Together, the pair pooled their resources and launched Urban Airship. Today, Lowry and Richardson’s company not only provides full-time employment for these two successful entrepreneurs, but also employs dozens of additional workers.
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Posted on May 25, 2012
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