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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 24, 1999




From the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age, small businesses have powered the American economy and created much of our prosperity. Generations of entrepreneurs have found in small businesses an outlet for their creativity, the source of their livelihood, and a chance to share in the American Dream. Millions of American consumers have found in small businesses the innovative products and vital services they need to improve the quality of their lives.

Today, America's 24 million small businesses employ more than half our country's work force and generate more than $16 trillion in revenue -- more than 50 percent of our gross domestic product. Small firms are also a true avenue of opportunity for women and minorities, for older and younger workers, and for part-time employees and those formerly on public assistance. They provide 67 percent of working Americans with their first job and their initial on-the-job training in basic work skills.

My Administration is deeply committed to creating an environment in which small businesses can thrive. Through programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) -- such as the business loan guarantee program, the economic development loan program, the microloan program, the small business investment company program, and the disaster loan and surety bond programs -- we have given small business owners access to financial assistance. Last year alone, the SBA guaranteed almost $11 billion in loans to small businesses, provided technical and management assistance to almost a million people, and helped entrepreneurs compete for more than $33 billion in Federal contracts. Through tax relief and regulatory streamlining and by opening overseas markets and providing export assistance, we are helping America's small businesses compete successfully in the global marketplace.

The men and women who own and manage America's small businesses have made enormous contributions to the technological innovations, job growth, and prosperity we enjoy today. But those contributions cannot be measured in dollars and cents alone; entrepreneurs give back to their communities in myriad ways, making them better places in which to live and work. During Small Business Week, we have a special opportunity -- and obligation -- to acknowledge the achievements of small business men and women and to express our appreciation for the vision, energy, and effort they bring to their enterprises.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 23 through May 29, 1999, as Small Business Week. I call upon Government officials and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs that celebrate the achievements of small business owners and encourage the development of new enterprises.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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