- President George W. Bush
Congratulations to all the SBA small business owners and advocate award winners for 2003. Those who were nominated and those who won are prime examples of the private sector's unique ability to create wealth.
We thank the sponsors for nominating such outstanding individuals. This year is more important than ever, because it is the SBA's 50th anniversary, celebrating a half century of providing assistance to small business owners through quality financial, management, minority, procurement and advocacy programs.
Since 1953, the SBA has been helping businesses thrive. As it approaches its 50th anniversary in service to American entrepreneurs, we are more determined than ever to keep the American Dream alive.
President Bush, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto and Regional Administrator Allegra McCullough have directed the SBA to reach out and serve all 25 million small businesses in America. To do that, we are changing the way we think about government and the people we serve.
Our goal is to be a proficient government agency that focuses on customer satisfaction by streamlining services to small businesses. We're implementing innovative approaches to reach a greater number of small businesses by promoting access to capital, particularly to those historically underserved by traditional credit markets. We're also increasing training, education and information assistance to small businesses on a 24/7 basis, while maximizing our resource partner networks.
We need to increase the number of small firms owned and operated by women, minorities, low- and moderate-income rural and urban small companies, veterans and persons with disabilities. Part of our effort is reflected in the Small Business Week Luncheon program May 23, where we will honor outstanding small business owners and advocates in Western Pennsylvania.
Events like this will be held throughout the nation, culminating in a National Small Business Week celebration in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15-20.
As district director, my main goal is to make sure small businesses in Western Pennsylvania know about the SBA and the services it provides. We make a massive effort to reach small businesses in each of our 27 counties each year.
Last year, we helped 1,702 small businesses in Western Pennsylvania obtain $157 million in financing through our loan guaranty and microloan programs. The Western Pennsylvania District Office had a terrific lending year in 2002, but fiscal year 2003 will be even better for the businesses we serve.
I am working with our lenders and resource partners to develop and refine strategic plans to reach even more small businesses.We have aggressive marketing and outreach goals, especially in rural areas.
I've also encouraged our office to emphasize international trade opportunities for small businesses.
This is an exciting time at the SBA, a time of change. We're not the SBA we were 50 years ago. We're better, much better.
We were named the top office in the country in fiscal year 2002. We plan on exceeding our goals this year and our overall service to the small business community of Western Pennsylvania
If you've ever thought about going into business for yourself, learn how the SBA can assist you. Call (412) 395-6560 or visiting www.sba.gov to discover how SBA can help you.