President Barack Obama praised independent business owners as the backbone of the nation's economy in his proclamation of the week of May 16-20 as National Small Business Week. The annual observance recognizes the nearly 27.2 million businesses that appreciably contribute to the U.S. economy.
The event, which celebrates its 48th anniversary, honors outstanding entrepreneurs from all over the country and features public recognition of the 2011 National Small Business Person of the Year, chosen from among 54 small business award winners from 50 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
On the conference floor, signs that read "Small Business: Driving America's Economy" are enthusiastically displayed throughout the auditorium. Yet if one listened to all the political wrangling these days about the "vital" role corporate America plays in job creation, one would think that the only productive enterprises are those companies that dot the landscape of the Fortune 500, or those who fortuitously make it to the Standard & Poor's 500 index (S&P 500).
However, none of this is true. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), one in two Americans either own or work for a small business. In fact, small businesses create about two out of every three jobs in the U.S. each year, and roughly 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs are created by the privately owned business sector. Which is to say, independent business owners are by far the greatest job creators in this country.
What may have seemed like a David vs. Goliath battle, particularly during the tech boom of the 1980s, and the more recent housing bubble of the early 2000s is a non sequitur.
Why? Recent data shows that, so far this year, small businesses have added roughly twice as many workers a month as they did in most of 2010. Experts say small employers are cautiously ramping up as they gain confidence that business conditions and loan activity will hold steady or improve.
Also, nearly a quarter million small businesses from every state sell goods and services to foreign customers around the globe, and these export sales sustain millions of well-paying American jobs.
That is why President Obama also launched the National Export Initiative, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports and supporting millions of U.S. jobs by the end of 2014.
The President's proclamation states:
Our country started as an idea, and it took hard-working, dedicated, and visionary patriots to make it a reality... From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America's promise.
In fact, on the Whitehouse.gov website is a report that details the many things the Administration has done over the past two years to help small businesses do what they do best: create jobs. It's called, "The Small Business Agenda: Growing America's Small Businesses to Win the Future."
Perhaps the truest spirit of free enterprise is when David is given an equal opportunity to become Goliath.