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February 5, 1999

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For the past six years, we've worked to bring prosperity to some of our most distressed communities with a new vision of government. It is a vision focused on one fundamental goal -- to empower our people with the tools to make the most of their own lives. Nothing better embodies this new vision of government, nor better conveys our faith in the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, than our efforts to promote microenterprise

President Bill Clinton
February 5, 1999

Today, President Clinton will honor recipients of the 1998 Presidential Awards in Microenterprise Development, discuss the continued strength of the American economy, and how we can expand opportunity to all Americans. The President will announce that unemployment in January remained at 4.3% -- a 41-year peacetime low. The President will unveil an initiative to increase support for domestic microenterprise programs by 159 percent. These programs help microentrepreneurs with access to capital, other financial services, and training. The President will also continue to show global leadership by calling for support of microenterprise worldwide through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The American Economy Remains Strong -- 245,000 New Jobs Created In January Alone. Six years ago, President Clinton put in place a bold new three-part economic strategy of cutting the deficit to help reduce interest rates and spur business investment; investing in education, health care, science and technology so that America would be prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century; and opening markets abroad so that American workers would have a fair chance to compete and win across the globe. Today, this plan continues to help the American economy remain strong:

  • Unemployment remained at 4.3% in January, its lowest peacetime rate since 1957;
  • 245,000 new jobs were created in January, and 17.8 million jobs have been created since the President and Vice President took office;
  • Unemployment for African-Americans and Hispanics are at record lows.

Providing Entrepreneurs With The Tools They Need To Succeed. President Clinton is committed to working with microenterpreneurs, small businesses with 5 or fewer employees and a very low demand of credit, to ensure that they receive training and technical assistance to compete and flourish in our economy. The President's domestic microenterprise agenda increases funding by 159 percent, from $32 million to $83 million, including:

  • $15 Million to support the bipartisan Program for Investments in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) which provides technical assistance and capacity building for microenterprise;
  • A doubling of support for technical assistance and lending in the Small Business Association's Microloan Program;
  • A doubling of funding for Individual Development Accounts (IDA's) which provides incentives for lower-income Americans to save for a first-home, post-secondary education, or to start a new business;
  • A tripling of funding for SBA's One-Stop Capital Shop Initiative, which offers financial and training services for communities bypassed in economic booms.

Expanding Microenterprise's International Reach. Early in his Administration, the President launched the USAID Microenterprise Initiative. Today, USAID is the world's leading donor in microenterprise development. This year, the Administration will continue to provide global leadership in microenterprise through USAID, including:

  • Increased funding for countries in crisis. The President's plan will provide $7 million for microenterprise for countries hit hard by the global financial crisis, and substantial additional relief for microenterprise support as part of a supplemental and bipartisan package of relief for businesses in countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch;
  • Working globally to implement microenterprise strategies. The Administration will work with the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to raise the portion of lending dedicated to building microenterprise worldwide. The Treasury Department and USAID will work with global institutions to provide technical and other assistance to help central banks and other regulators in less-developed nations develop legislative and regulatory frameworks that support microenterprise development.

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