National Small Business Week Kicks Off
The event in Washington, D.C., which has been held since 1963, recognizes the impact entrepreneurs have on the U.S. economy.
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This week marks National Small Business Week, a three-day celebration in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Small Business Administration, which features presentations and workshops designed to help entrepreneurs grow their companies.
National Small Business Week, which officially kicked off on May 23, has been held annually since 1963 as a way for the president to recognize the nation's millions of small businesses and their importance to the economy. To date, more than half of U.S. citizens own a small business or work for one, and these companies create, on average, 60 to 80 percent of new jobs.
"This week, we celebrate the role of entrepreneurs and small businesses in our national life," President Obama said in a proclamation announcing the event. "They are the engine of our prosperity and a proud reflection of our character. A healthy small business sector will give us vibrant communities, cutting-edge technology, and an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century."
At this year's event, small businesses will be honored with several awards, including the "2010 State Small Business Persons of the Year Awards," honoring business owners in each state. Top lenders will be recognized by the SBA as "Small Business Lenders of the Year," while the "Entrepreneurial Development Awards" acknowledge outstanding teachers, trainers, and service providers that have worked with entrepreneurs. Other awards include the "Phoenix Awards" for companies that have helped their communities bounce back from disaster, the "Federal Procurement Awards," and the "National Small Business Champion Awards."
The event also features speeches by several prominent members of the business community, including including SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC's Your Business, and Zipcar chairman and CEO Scott Griffith.
Presentations include a town hall meeting to discuss how and why small businesses will continue to play a role in the economic recovery, a forum on ways to translate innovation into more jobs, and a panel discussion about the need for entrepreneurs to use social media as part of their marketing and relationship building strategies.