This is an exciting time for America. In the second half of 2003, our economy grew at a 6.1 percent annual rate – the fastest 6-month growth rate in nearly 20 years. Productivity is growing rapidly, factory orders are up, and housing construction in 2003 was the strongest in 25 years. And the best news of all is that the economic recovery is creating jobs. We have now had six straight months of job creation, resulting in 364,000 new jobs.
Our recovery is picking up strength, and leading the way are Colorado’s 450,000 small business owners.
There would be no economic recovery and no job creation without small business. I often tell audiences that ‘small business isn’t small.’ In fact, it’s huge. Ninety-nine percent of all employers in this country are small businesses, and they provide jobs for more than half of all private sector employees. Three out of every four net new jobs are created by small businesses.
These entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of the American economy. Their ingenuity and efficiency is unparalleled, and the federal government’s share in their success is a limited one. But we are proud to help where we can. The SBA approved a record number of loans in 2003, reaching out to more small businesses than ever before. With the partnership of Hewlett-Packard, we introduced Business Matchmaking, a new and revolutionary way of helping small business owners compete for government contracts. And the SBA continued to modernize its services in 2003, including completely redesigning its Web site and creating a brand new Spanish-language Internet portal, www.negocios.gov.
But perhaps most important to American entrepreneurs was the passage of President Bush’s Jobs and Growth package. That package cut taxes for American small businesses by an average of $2,850. That is $2,850 more to invest in new equipment, new offices, and, most importantly new jobs.
The Jobs and Growth package was designed to help unleash the tremendous potential of American entrepreneurs. It cut marginal income tax rates, so businesses had greater incentive to grow and expand, and more resources with which to do so. It quadrupled the deductibility of expensing for business equipment from $25,000 to $100,000, so entrepreneurs could finally afford to buy that new tractor, or those new computers, that they were waiting for. And the President has called for Congress to abolish the death tax once and for all, so family businesses can stay family businesses through the generations.
President Bush often says that “Wealth is created by Americans – by creativity and enterprise and risk-taking. But government can create an environment where businesses and entrepreneurs and families can dream and flourish.” I share that vision, and I think small business owners’ success in 2003 is pointing the way toward a bright future. By cutting taxes, by creating access to capital, by offering contracting opportunities, President Bush and the SBA are helping small businesses create that bright future by doing what they do best: grow the economy and create jobs.
That is what our goal is, and small business owners in Colorado can help us on Monday. Here’s how: they can tell us what we can do to better serve them.
That is why we are coming to Denver: to listen to small business owners from Colorado and across the region. This is the tenth stop in our tour, and at each of the first nine, I learned something new. I’ve heard stories of growth and success, and of challenges and concerns. I’ve talked with entrepreneurs about taxes, about health care, about frivolous lawsuits, about overregulation. But I want to hear more. The SBA exists to serve American small business owners, and the very best way we can do that is by continuing to talk and listen to their issues and their concerns.
I am looking forward to meeting with Denver’s small business owners. I hope that we can continue our dialogue with America’s entrepreneurs, and that it leads to even greater success for American small businesses and for the American economy.
- Hector Barreto, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration