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Bill Radke: The Commerce Department will set up a new "Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship" to help start-up companies get financing and access to government R&D Commerce Secretary Gary Locke made the announcement yesterday at Inc magazine's annual conference in Washington:

Gary Locke: This new office will be geared toward the first step in the business cycle: moving an idea from someone's imagination or from a research lab into a business plan.

And yes, there are new companies thriving, even in this stalled economy. From the Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mitchell Hartman reports.

Mitchell Hartman: At this week's Inc 5000 conference, they're celebrating entrepreneurial companies that have continued to expand in spite of the recession.

Inc editor Rod Kurtz:

Rod Kurtz: You hear optimism. They've weathered the storm. And the unique thing about entrepreneurs is that when everyone else is hunkering down, they're out there hiring, trying to drum up new business, because they know when everyone else thinks the sky is falling, that's a great opportunity for them.

Many companies on the Inc list -- from insurance to personal fitness, retirement services and transportation -- grew more than 1,000 percent in 2008.

Kurtz: About 75 percent of all new jobs in this country are created by small businesses. Keep in mind that most of these companies were founded probably within the past 10 years. These are jobs that literally didn't exist till these companies came along.

Also worth keeping in mind, though: new firms fail at a high rate. And small businesses have been shedding jobs at a rapid pace. So in the short run, it may be tough for entrepreneurs to create enough jobs to lead the way out of recession.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy