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Remarks at a White House Ceremony Marking the Observance of Minority Enterprise Development Week, President Reagan


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October 3, 1983

Thank you, and welcome to the White House. We are here today to celebrate the contributions of minority business to American economic life, and we're also here to encourage the development of minority business itself.

Having one's own business is a powerful engine for social and economic progress. Countless of our minority citizens are taking advantage of the opportunity called free enterprise. It's very fitting that today we acknowledge what minority business people are doing, not just for themselves and their families but for our nation. You know, there were some hearings on the Hill the other day on the way minorities, especially black and Hispanic Americans, are portrayed on television. And if you'll bear with me for a moment, it relates to what we're doing here today.

Many who spoke at the hearing believe that television very often stereotypes minorities and ignores their range of talents and interests. Well, let me put on my old actors' union hat for a moment, because there's some truth in that. There are hundreds of thousands of small business men and women in this country who are black or Hispanic, as you well know. Why can't the casting directors more frequently assign parts as shopowners and business people to minorities? After all, there are 600,000 minority businesses in this nation. Now, our minority actors should also get parts as lawyers and doctors, even cowboys -- there were a great many black cowboys in our history. You know, this isn't the first time I've said things like this because for six terms I was president of the Screen Actors Guild, my union, and, believe me, we were working on this very problem then as a union.

But minority business people contribute a great deal to our economic well-being, and I think it's time that they are recognized more, including on television and the screen. And recognition is one reason for Minority Enterprise Development Week, and why we're here. We also have some awards, as you've seen, that symbolize what minority business people are doing out there in the American economy. And let me first, if I may, recognize, as you already have, the winners of the Small Business Administration 8(a) Contractors of the Year Award.

As you know, the 8(a) program, you've been told, provides greater access for minorities to government contracts. Since 1968, over $15 billion in Federal procurement contracts have been directed toward minority-owned businesses. Our winners today participated in that program, and I'm very pleased to congratulate our co-winners: Mr. Jaime Torres, of El Paso, Texas, the founder of J. T. Construction, and Mr. Norris Carson, the founder of N. L. Carson Construction of Carthage, Mississippi. And let me also congratulate all the regional winners and say that the Nation is just as proud of your contributions. And we wish you, too, continued success.

The other award is the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce. MBDA, as it's called, provides managerial and technical assistance to minority enterprises, and it assisted our winner today. And the winner, as you know, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award is Mr. Liborio Hinojosa from Mercedes, Texas, the president of H & H Meat Products Company. He couldn't be here today, but it's a genuine pleasure to honor his entrepreneurial spirit, as well.

Minority business is contributing to a stronger America, and this administration intends to encourage that. It's one reason we strongly support a bold initiative called Enterprise Zones, to stimulate business activity in some of the most destitute areas of our country. It's tragic that this legislation has been bottled up in the House of Representatives for so long. If the Congress refuses to act, hopes and dreams of millions will be lost in a cloud of indifference.

I've directed the Small Business Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency to assist in creating 60,000 new minority businesses and in expanding an additional 60,000 over the next 10 years. I've established a goal of $15 billion in Federal contract and subcontract awards to minority business over the next 3 years.

An important tool is the 8(a) pilot program which gives a wider range of contracts to minority businesses. And I have designated the Department of Transportation to participate in this program. Federal procurement in the last year of the previous administration was $3.1 billion. Last year Federal procurement to minority business was approximately $4.4 billion. We're doing these things because we believe in minority small business.

But my congratulations again to the winners, and it's especially good that we could honor them during the first annual Minority Enterprise Development Week. And I've signed many proclamations designating days and months and years and weeks particular things. But I was very delighted to be able to sign that particular proclamation. Again, God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Prior to the President's remarks, Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige presented the Minority Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Liborio Hinojosa. The plaque was accepted by his brother Rubin Hinojosa. James C. Sanders, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, then presented the SBA's Contractors of the Year Awards to Jaime Torres and Norris Carson.

On August 11 the President signed Proclamation 5083, designating the week of October 2 through October 8, as Minority Enterprise Development Week, 1983.

Did you know...

MBDA Minority Business Centers helped clients secure contracts totaling $6.9 billion during the last 5 fiscal years.
Graph for Dollar Value of Contracts

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