National Small Business Week Kicks Off - Black Enterprise

National Small Business Week Kicks Off

Entrepreneurs around the nation are marking their calendars for April 21-25, officially National Small Business Week (NSBW). Events are taking place in Washington, D.C. and New York City, including several ceremonies honoring 2008 NSBW award winners. The Website for the event,, will offer live Webcasts of the award events, plus real-time blogs, photos, and other information posted by award winners, speakers, sponsors, and other attendees.

It’s been 45 years since the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched its premier annual event. This year, the agency has “introduced forums that are designed to focus attention on key policy areas affecting small business growth,” says Anoop Prakash, associate administrator for entrepreneurial development at the SBA.

Among the speakers and panel moderators scheduled to appear are: Secretary Mike Leavitt of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, United States trade representative; Clarence “Bud” Albright Jr., U.S. under secretary of energy; Michael E. Porter, chairman of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City; John Bryant of Operation HOPE and the President’s Council on Financial Literacy; and other prominent business leaders, CEOs, and politicos.

While about 1,000 small business owners are expected to attend the events in person, National Small Business Week honors the estimated 26.8 million small businesses in America, Prakash says. According to SBA data, small businesses represent 50% of the non-farm GDP and create nearly 80% of new jobs in the country.

The week kicks off with three days of events in Washington, D.C., (April 21-23) at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. More than 100 small business owners from across the country will be recognized at the various awards ceremonies. The highlight will be the announcement of the National Small Business Person of the Year on Tuesday, April 22, at the National Awards luncheon honoring State Small Business Award winners.

A series of executive panels promise to be a major draw, as they will cover such timely business topics as healthcare, international trade, energy, and finance. On Wednesday, April 23, the procurement forum aims to match small businesses seeking government contracts with corporate buyers and prime contractors. Also on that day, a special session with President Bush will take place at the White House.

As the celebration moves to the Big Apple on April 24-25, the focus shifts to the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Business Center program, which has served more than 650,000 new and growing small business owners in the past five years. Also scheduled is a financial forum called “Investing in the Future: Financing Inner City Businesses” on Friday, April 25 at the Westin New York at Times Square.

The invite-only session is designed to serve as dialogue between the SBA and those interested in community investment. The panel will be moderated by Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). Confirmed speakers include: Tim Ferguson, founder, chair, and managing partner at Next Street Financial; Michael J. Connelly, CEO of Mosaica Education; David Latimore, CEO and president at ICIC; Manjari Raman, senior vice president and director at ICIC; and