Celebrating U.S. Small Business for a Half Century

It’s upon us once again. From May 20-26, America celebrates National Small Business Week 2012. In truth, it is one of those annual events that I’ve never thought about very much. Seems like a good year to learn more, so….

A quick Google search revealed myriad events held throughout the country – conferences, networking opportunities, seminars, webinars and more. All celebrate small business as an institution and all are designed to empower the thousands of small businesses that keep America on the move.  The biggie is the weeklong National Small Business Week Conference held in Washington D.C.  Hosted by the Small Business Administration, the conference offers a wide selection of forums ranging from federal contracting to exporting to social media practices.

Private enterprise is on board as well with some helpful – and very creative – programs targeting small business. The Verizon Small Business Center will present a free webinar offering tips to help small business owners protect their business in the event of disaster. The Chrysler Group LLC is launching a new commercial vehicle website and contest for small businesses. And Carbonite Inc, a leading supplier of online back-up solutions for consumers and small business, offers tips for maximizing the benefits of online services and extends a special discount offer on Carbonite Business Products. This is pretty neat stuff all around.

But all the events aside, I wanted to learn a bit more about the history of National Small Business Week. There must be a back-story and some sort of legacy here. Well, there definitely is and it goes back a half century. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation establishing a week to commemorate the achievements and contributions of U.S. small businesses. Every President since has continued the tradition. Small business continues to thrive and remains the bedrock of American commerce.

Although fairly common knowledge, the statistics are very impressive. By the federal government’s definition there are more than 27 million small businesses in the U.S.  They employ approximately half of all private sector employees and pay 43% of the total U.S. private payroll. They’ve also generated 65 percent of new jobs over the last 17 years. That is incredible achievement and something that all of us working in small business should be proud of.

Perhaps the Presidential Proclamation for National Small Business Week 2012 says it best of all: “Our Nation has always believed that anyone with a solid plan and a willingness to work hard can turn even an improbable idea into a successful business. For generations, that powerful notion has been at the heart of the American promise, forging a legacy of bold entrepreneurship that lives on today and lights the path to a brighter tomorrow.”

That is American small business – always building, always making a difference. And here to stay!


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