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Public Papers - 1989 - October

Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards


Thank you all. Excuse the -- keeping you waiting a few minutes here. To Bob Mosbacher, my special thanks. And Susan Engeleiter, Director Bolton, Erline Patrick, thank you -- thank all of you.

Somebody told me -- I've got to have a little nostalgia -- that Maurice Stans was here somewhere. And I'm looking and looking, and wondered if that's true, because -- here he is. What a pleasure. When I think of looking back over my shoulder to one of the pioneers of minority business opportunity in this country, I always think of Maury. And I'm just so pleased that you're here, sir.

And I welcome all the distinguished community and business leaders here. As you know best, the business of America is not business; the true business is opportunity. No social program, no jobs program, no government program of any sort can match the opportunity created for all Americans by those special people that we call entrepreneurs. I wish there were a simpler word for all of this -- entrepreneur. [Laughter] But people know what it means -- people, men and women out there who take risks and pioneer, start businesses, create jobs.

In those communities where opportunity is most needed, minority entrepreneurs are especially leading the way. And that's why I aim to restore and reinvigorate the vision behind the Office of Minority Business Enterprise. Once a minority-owned firm was a rarity, but in the last 20 years the number of minority-owned businesses has grown fivefold to approximately 1 million. And this is happening as we learn that cutting redtape and high taxes allow small business to help millions of disadvantaged Americans. For many of your employees, this is their first -- who knows, perhaps their best -- chance to reach the first rung on that opportunity ladder. And so, you know better than anyone that when we support minority business -- and we intend to revitalize our efforts in this regard -- we're also supporting social progress.

Just last week -- I can't resist this -- we saw a majority of the Members of the House of Representatives recognize this truth by taking a bold stand in favor of opportunity. They did this by voting to reestablish a capital gains differential by voting to cut the tax on capital gains. Of course, some say that this is a tax cut for a few; but as businessmen and businesswomen know, this is a tax cut for all, a way to channel investment back into new growth and new jobs. And I would like to take this opportunity to call on the United States Senate to follow the lead of the House of Representatives -- call on them to raise revenues, to raise employment, and raise millions of our fellow Americans to a new threshold of opportunity, and to cut the capital gains tax now. And I will be pushing for this because I know that the beneficiaries will be those who are looking for their first job, or perhaps their second job. It is a job-oriented tax cut.

While the House was taking action on capital gains, I was down meeting with the Governors in what has really, I think, been viewed as an historic summit -- the first education summit in our history. Bob Mosbacher was down there at my side, and we discussed our children's education and how it's going to shape their future. And we agreed for the first time to set national goals and to seek greater flexibility in the use of Federal funds in exchange for enhanced accountability for the results. We did this because a good education is not critical for most Americans; it is critical for all Americans. And in the economy of the future, American workers who cannot read and have no skills won't have that shot at the American dream. So, our schools must -- they simply must -- do a better job.

And more businesses must follow your example by stepping in to finish the job of training workers. And this is why you're already doing so well. Look to Teresa McBride of Albuquerque, whose high-tech firm, McBride Microsource, went from 1 full-time employee -- 1 -- in 1985 to 22 people today. Think of it. Because of this 27-year-old entrepreneur, there are now 22 jobs where once there were none.

Look to Ronald Thompson of East St. Louis, whose company, General Railroad Equipment and Services, Inc., has grown fivefold in the past 7 years. Sixty-four employees then, three hundred now -- a firm that has sponsored a program to teach minority youth about entrepreneurship.

Look to Roy and Rudolph Terry of Roanoke, Alabama. They've not only created a firm, Terry Manufacturing, with 280 full-time people and with annual sales in excess of million; they've also found the time to get involved in what I call the Thousand Points of Light -- time to sponsor a local Little League team and a Boy Scout troop and support a county antidrug program. And they also provided summer jobs for college-bound kids of their own employees, and matched employee contributions to the American Heart Association, making their small company the association's largest donor.

Ronald, Teresa, Rudolph, and Terry: In a moment we'll be presenting you with awards for your outstanding accomplishments. But the true reward comes not from me or anyone else in Washington. It comes from the people in the communities that you serve so well. You've heard me say this before, and I'm going to keep saying it, because I really believe it: From now on in America, any definition of the successful life must include service to others. And by these lights, you all are very, very successful.

Congratulations, and now I will turn to Bob and Susan to make a few announcements. It's all yours, Mr. Secretary.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher; Susan S. Engeleiter, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; Kenneth Bolton, Director of the Minority Business Development Agency; Erline M. Patrick, Associate Administrator for Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development at the Small Business Administration; and former Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans.

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