Remarks at a White House Ceremony Honoring the Minority Small Business Persons of the Year

October 11, 1984

The President. I'm delighted to welcome you, the businessmen and women of the year, to the White House. And today, as part of Minority Development Week, we pay tribute to the minority business owners of our nation. And in a few minutes it'll be my great pleasure here to participate in the remainder of the ceremony with regard to them. I know they've -- Mac has just presented them to you.

Not too long ago, I was asked to explain the difference between a small businessman and a big business man or woman. And my answer was, ``Well, a big one is what a small one would be if the Government would get out of the way and leave him alone.'' [Laughter] Well, that's what we're trying hard to do -- to help you all make it big. And the last thing you need is to climb aboard the economic train, and after a long, tough fight, to buy a ticket and then see the train come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Less than 4 years ago, the heavy freight of double-digit inflation, high taxes, record interest rates, and overregulation had stopped the economic train dead in its tracks. Well, that's all been changed. And today a strong and a vibrant America is settling in. Inflation has plummeted by nearly two-thirds, and it's staying down. Purchasing power is back in the hands of the consumers. And that's great news for America's business community. Productivity is rising, and economic growth is solid. And the best news of all is over 6 million more Americans have jobs than just 21 months ago, jobs that you are helping provide.

But we're far from finished. And there's much more that can and must be done. If the dream of America is to be strengthened, we mustn't waste the genius of one mind or the strength of one body or the spirit of one soul. We must use every capability we have. And the surest way to do that is to mobilize the power of private enterprise and let you work your magic.

I believe that when it comes to making sure that all Americans, from every walk of life, every color, creed, and religion have the chance to make it big, there's no better way than to keep the economy sparkling and the opportunities expanding for you and for all our citizens.

We know that given opportunities, minority firms can prevail in fair and open competition. You are a dynamic force in the marketplace. You're bringing hundreds of thousands of jobs to hard-working Americans, providing innovative products, needed services, and ideas and opportunities for the future. The only thing I want to see is your success grow and your numbers increase. And that's why we'll keep supporting, at every level of government, a broad range of programs to reach out to disadvantaged sectors of the community.

As you know, we'll soon enter the third year of our 10-year program to assist directly in forming 60,000 new minority businesses and to help expand at least 60,000 existing minority firms. The program is on schedule, and we're going to keep it that way.

We're seeing the same results in our objective to procure some $15 billion in minority business goods and services for the Federal Government through fiscal year 1985. And what this means is that your firms will receive nearly $3 billion more in Federal contracting in 3 years than was provided in all the 12 years during the last three administrations.

Now, we're determined to increase opportunities for minority businesses to participate in Federal procurement. And I might mention that these figures do not include procurement by recipients of Federal grants and cooperative agreements. And that adds an additional $6 billion to $7 billion to the total.

We want to see your business community continue to grow and grow. We're working hard to be sensitive to your concerns and to build on the beginning that we've made together. And I'm delighted to be able to take part in this celebration today. Minority Enterprise Development Week provides an excellent opportunity to salute some of America's most successful entrepreneurs, the men and women who are the real heroes behind America's success.

God bless you for what you're doing, and we're going to continue to try and help in any way we can. The business men and women here today represent industries as diverse as steel, automobile, and computers. And they're all pioneers in America's continuing frontier of opportunity -- the free market system.

And now for the most pleasant job that I've had all week, and I'm sure happy that it wasn't up to me to pick the winners. [Laughter] As far as I'm concerned, you're all winners, and we're very proud of what you're doing.

So, now I shall step back and we'll proceed with the ceremony for those who have already been named here today. And what a pleasure it is to honor them. Thank you.

Mr. Gonzales. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

First, I would like to take the privilege of announcing the winners from the Minority Business Development Agency, the awards that they're giving out.

First, Mr. President, is Peggy Shreve, who is president of the Frontier Engineering Company from Oklahoma.

Next, Mr. President, Herman Valentine, of Norfolk, Virginia's Systems Management American Corporation.

And now may I ask Jim Sanders, the head of the Small Business Administration, for his awards, please.

Mr. Sanders. Mr. President, it's a great privilege for me to participate with you this morning in honoring these fine people.

First, I would like to present to you the Gamboa brothers, from El Paso -- Frank, Albert. These are the winners, the small business minority winners of the year.

And our next small business minority winner of the year, Mr. President, is somebody you probably heard of a few years ago. He used to play a little basketball around Detroit. He turned into a steel all-star now -- Dave Bing, Mr. President.

The President. Well, we have done it? [Laughter]

Mr. Gonzalez. We have done it.

The President. Well, all right. Well, again, thank you all for being here. And now, as the little girl in a letter told me one day, now get back to your office and go to work. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. at the ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. He presented the award recipients with certificates and plaques. Prior to the President's remarks, Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige introduced the award winners to the audience.

On June 19 the President signed Proclamation 5213, proclaiming the week of October 7 through 13 as Minority Enterprise Development Week.