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




Throughout our history, America's minority entrepreneurs have contributed to the strength of our economy and the quality of our national life. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as farmers and fur traders, shipwrights and sea captains, barbers and bankers, they forged better lives for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. Often facing prejudice and discrimination, they nonetheless succeeded in creating businesses that energized their communities and helped to build a dynamic new society.

Today, minority business owners are branching out from predominantly retail and service industries into the fields of manufacturing, transportation, construction, energy, and technology, helping to power the longest peacetime economic expansion in our Nation's history. Producing goods and services that generate new jobs and spur investment, minority business owners have played a vital role in building an economy with nearly 19 million new jobs, wages rising at twice the rate of inflation, and the lowest peacetime unemployment rate since 1957.

All Americans can be proud that we have eliminated many of the obstacles that in the past hindered minority entrepreneurs from contributing the full value of their talents to our society. However, while many minority business owners are enjoying success, many still face barriers that keep them from competing on a level playing field. We must continue to build on the combined efforts of the private sector and government to ensure that minority-owned businesses have access to the capital, customers, and services that will enable them to succeed in high technology and other rapidly growing sectors.

Through my Administration's New Markets Initiative, we are building partnerships between business and government to encourage investments in areas that have not attracted investments in the past: inner cities, rural regions, and Indian reservations. We are striving to ensure that our Nation's economic expansion -- which has benefited millions of Americans -- will reach people who have been left behind for decades.

We are also working to help minority-owned firms harness the enormous power of the Internet. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Department of Commerce, together with the Small Business Administration (SBA), provide minority-owned businesses with the tools they need to succeed in the Information Age. These efforts range from interactive educational courses on the fundamentals of E-commerce to the creation of Phoenix-Opportunity, an automatic electronic bid-matching system that notifies firms of opportunities through the Internet. Similarly, SBA's Pro-Net system provides contracting officers and small and minority-owned businesses with an electronic gateway to procurement opportunities and information.

During Minority Enterprise Development Week, as we honor the many minority businessmen and women whose energy, spirit, and creativity have strengthened our economy and enriched our country, let us rededicate ourselves to nurturing the dreams and talents of all Americans and to realizing the limitless possibilities of our free enterprise system.

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 Minority Enterprise Development Week, and I call on all Americans to join together with minority business entrepreneurs across the country in appropriate observances.

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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