Next week begins the Annual Celebration of National Small Business Week as we mark the 54th year in a row that the president of the United States of America has declared one week per year as the official celebration of the Main Street entrepreneur.
Organized by the Small Business Administration May 1-5 will serve as the week-long event in which communities across America designate special forums, webinars, think tanks and round tables dedicated to helping business people learn more about fostering their own entrepreneurial spirit. Ever since President Kennedy signed the first proclamation in 1963, Americans have lauded their ability to build their hopes and dreams around growing their personal enterprise and family businesses. In fact, over the years, small business has become the backbone of the US economy, employing upwards of 90% of all US workers in many towns and cities, and accounting for more than 75% of all expansion of existing industry, according to the United States Chamber of Commerce.
During the downturn in the US economy in 2008, it was small business that many turned to that kept American jobs afloat and while the latest jobs report showed gains for the first time since the Great Recession, it was the steady, sustainable growth of small business that many communities could thank for positive growth in sectors many thought would not survive. Take startups, for example: According to the
  Kauffman Index (an umbrella of annual reports that measure US entrepreneurship across national, state and top 40 metro levels), Florida ranked 2nd nationwide last year in Startup Activity (new venture creation) and 19th in Mainstreet Entrepreneurship (small business activity). That's in the country! That's pretty impressive, and it demonstrates that Florida is making a big impression in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.
In the world of United Way, these small business leaders are making big things happen here, too! Our United Way is the ONLY United Way to have the Small Business Partnership Program - a unique group of entrepreneurs who donate to the Community Investment Fund with a leadership gift that draws down on average an additional $3 in federal and state match dollars. Small business is indeed a BIG deal in this country, and in our neck of the woods, small business leaders have accounted for a 15% growth in our Community Investment Fund, which is the only pot of money that stays local and funds local programs that turn the curve in improving education, health and financial stability.
So, we join arms with the rest of America in saluting the Small Business Entrepreneur! Thank you, Small Business Leader for the sleepless nights, the soaring spirit and the boldness to think you can do anything you set your mind to. That's the American dream, after all!


Deborah V. Bowie, CCE, IOM
President & Chief Executive Officer

United Way
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