WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush today paid tribute to the key role small businesses play in leading the nation?s economic recovery, and called on all Americans to honor their contributions to the American spirit during National Small Business Week (Sept. 14-20).

President Bush issued the proclamation for National Small Business Week today, calling on Americans ?to celebrate the achievements of small business owners and encourage and foster the development of new enterprises.

?These entrepreneurs create between 60 and 80 percent of the new jobs nationwide and generate more than 50 percent of the nation?s gross domestic product,? the President said. ?Small business owners lead the way in creating new technologies, products, and services.

?The entrepreneurs who own and operate America?s small businesses are an indispensable factor in America?s economic strength. These entrepreneurs possess many of the characteristics that define the American spirit ? innovation, dedication, and drive. America?s small businesses are forging new opportunities and prosperity for America. Their tremendous spirit is an example to us all. Leading by example, America?s entrepreneurs have made, and continue to make, an indelible mark on our economy.

?During Small Business Week, we honor America?s millions of small business owners. Without their continued contribution to our country, the American dream would go unrealized.?

The U.S. Small Business Administration will host a gathering of America?s top entrepreneurs to celebrate the strength and vitality of the nation?s small business sector and honor the National Small Business Person of the Year for 2003 during ceremonies planned for the National Entrepreneurial Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17-19.

This year?s celebration ? part of the SBA?s 50th anniversary ? also will include a trade show with 175 participants, business matchmaking, business education sessions, a town hall meeting and the naming of the National Small Business of Year award winner. Other sessions will include speakers from industry and government with a focus on issues of interest to the small business community. Another special feature of the conference will be the unveiling of SBA?s ?Golden Anniversary Hall of Fame,? where the agency will honor nationally known companies that got started with the help of SBA-backed financing.

For more information about the National Entrepreneurial Conference and
Expo, visit the SBA Web site.