Pound for pound, the SBA does more to help Americans get into the winners circle of this new economy. I believe we must use todays prosperity to expand that winners circle and open doors of opportunity wider than theyve ever been opened before. Thats the SBAs mission, and it is a mission it performs admirably.
Vice President Al Gore, New Hampshire, July 1998
Welcome to the United States Small Business Administrations Annual Awards Celebration honoring Americas small businesses and those who advocate for them. This years theme, A History of Success, A Millennium of Opportunity, is a fitting slogan as we venture into the new century. Since its creation nearly a half century ago, the SBA has helped millions of Americas small businesses grow and thrive. Small Business Week is a good time to reflect on our history of success as an agency. It is also a good time to review our mission to provide economic opportunities for all entrepreneurs as we enter the new millennium.
SBA enjoyed a record year in lending in 1998, guaranteeing nearly $11 billion in loans to Americas small businesses. In America today, small business is thriving in the strongest economy in a generation. SBAs new markets initiative is spurring investment in our urban and underserved rural areas, making the entire country stronger. Its a commitment that Administrator Aida Alvarez has made to guarantee that the doors of opportunity are open to all Americans who want to enter into that prosperity.
All small businesses and their advocates honored here today have been in the winners circle and have helped others get there. Today we celebrate their talent, expertise, hard work and creativity. The are part of the SBA family working to make this years theme meaningful to everyone who wants to join them in the winners circle. Along with Al Jones, District Director, and the entire Pittsburgh SBA staff, I salute each 1999 Small Business Week winner. Your vitality and commitment to success inspire us all.
Kerry. L. Kirkland