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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                   (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release                                    August 26, 1999




America's free enterprise system is continually energized by the skill, vision, and exceptional performance of our Nation's small manufacturers -- those who employ fewer than 500 employees. Though small in size, these companies make enormous contributions to our economy and provide our society and the world with high-quality manufactured goods. More important, small manufacturers are a vital source of new jobs -- almost 1 million between 1992 and 1996 -- and provide a livelihood for nearly 12 million Americans.

We live in an age dominated by information and technology, where the global marketplace grows ever more complex and interdependent. As large manufacturers expand their reliance on smaller firms for parts and services, the performance of small manufacturers becomes increasingly important to the competitiveness of America's manufacturing sector.

My Administration, working with the Congress and State governments, has strived to ensure that these small firms have access to the resources, technology, expertise, and training they need to realize their highest potential. By passing two consecutive balanced budgets and signing into law the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, we have helped to reduce interest rates, ease the tax burden on small firms, and encourage investment and growth. The Small Business Administration, through its vigorous lending and loan guaranty efforts, has improved access to capital so that small manufacturing firms and other small businesses can modernize, expand, and invest in worker training.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) of the Department of Commerce, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, gives small manufacturers a solid foundation on which to build innovative ideas and products. With a network of more than 70 nonprofit centers, the MEP serves small manufacturers in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, providing access to the newest technology, manufacturing processes, and business practices. The MEP's local centers offer personalized guidance to manufacturers on issues ranging from business to technology solutions. And because these centers are linked together through the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology, even the smallest manufacturing firms can enjoy instant access to the most advanced national resources.

Most important, we are continuing to invest in education and training to give America's working men and women the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the jobs of the 21st century. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which I was pleased to sign into law last year, provides skill grants directly to workers so they can choose the kind of training they want and where they want to obtain it.

As we observe Small Manufacturing Week, let us pay tribute to America's more than 385,000 small manufacturing firms whose commitment to hard work and excellence has helped set our country on a steady course for continued growth and prosperity.

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 September 19 through September 25, 1999, as Small Manufacturing Week, 1999. I invite all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs that recognize the achievements of our Nation's small manufacturers.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of August, 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-fourth.


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