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Clinton Turns to Small Enterprise

February 5, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton urged Congress Friday to more than double the government’s support for small enterprises.

``We have an obligation now to spread the spirit and the opportunity for enterprise to all the American people,″ the president said in an East Room awards ceremony honoring six outstanding microenterprise development and lending programs.

Clinton’s proposed budget for fiscal 2000 asks Congress for $83 million _ up from $32 million for the current fiscal year _ for technical and training assistance to organizations that support microenterprise, which typically includes businesses that employ five or fewer people and need less than $25,000 in credit to get up and running.

Individuals launching such ventures _ sometimes out their garages _ need basic technical help to succeed.

Such help can ``transform welfare checks to paychecks, poverty to economic growth and income, despair to hope,″ said first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, for whom microenterprise has become a pet issue, especially in her overseas travels.

Included in Clinton’s budget request is $15 million for technical support and research on innovations that can help new businesses and a doubling, to $32 million, of the Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program, which links loans to microentreprenuers with training.

``This whole country is basically built by entrepreneurs _ whether they’re in Silicon Valley or young investment bankers in Manhattan, or people running the street vending operations out here for the tourists in Washington,″ Clinton said.

The firms receiving recognition from the president Friday are The Micro Industry Credit Rural Organization of Tucson, Ariz.; The Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute Inc.; The Northeast Entrepreneur Fund Inc. of Virginia, Minn.; The Institute for Social and Economic Development of Iowa City, Iowa; The Montana Microbusiness Finance Program of Helena, Mont., and The Corporation for Enterprise Development of Washington.

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