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Institute of Peace
Washington, D.C.

3:22 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon.  And thank you so — how about a round of applause for Linda McMahon, the Administrator of the Small Business — stand up and take a bow, will you please?  (Applause.)  She’s amazing.  (Applause.)
And more on our other honored guests in just a moment.  But it’s just such a joy to be able to welcome you all here to Washington, D.C.  And I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)  He grew up in a small family business; so did I.  And I have to tell you, mine was a little smaller than his.  (Laughter.)  But it is a particular joy, I know, on his behalf, for us to welcome you here to join in the celebration of National Small Business Week to honor the millions of small businesses that are the beating heart of the American economy.  (Applause.)

I hope you all enjoyed the discussion that just wrapped up.  I’m proud to be one of your cleanup speakers today.  (Laughter.)  But I know the conversation that took place, hearing from Linda McMahon and hearing from the remarkable business success story and leader that is Ivanka Trump was a great joy for all of you.  Would you give her a warm welcome as well?  (Applause.)  You can give her a standing ovation too, I just didn’t go on — Ivanka Trump, everybody, is a business leader and a champion for small business.  (Applause.)

Ivanka, your leadership is inspiring businesses all across this country, and especially women in business.  She’s been a voice across the country and now all over the world — a voice for empowering women business leaders.  And I see some great women business leaders in small business gathered here today, so give yourselves a round of applause.  (Applause.)  Thank you again, Ivanka, for your great leadership.  (Applause.)

It is great to be here at the start of National Small Business Week.  Since 1963, the President of the United States has honored America’s small businesses by instituting this week and recognizing the tremendous contributions that small businesses make to our country each and every day.

Just this weekend, President Trump signed a declaration asserting these words:  “Small-business owners embody the American pioneering spirit, and remind us that determination can turn aspiration into achievement every day.”  (Applause.)
And I lived it.  I just — I greeted some people along with the President in the Kennedy Garden just a few minutes ago, and I talked about growing up in a small business myself.

I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana, and my dad ran a little gas station business.  And when I was only 14 years of age, I went to work as a gas station attendant.  (Laughter.)  And for those of you under the age of 30, we’ll explain to you later what a gas station attendant was.  (Laughter.)  But I had my first name on my shirt, and when the car pulled onto the drive I ran to the car, okay, ran to the car, checked the oil, checked the tires, washed the windshield, didn’t even charge you anymore money for it.  (Laughter and applause.)

But I grew up in a family business.  And, as the world knows, President Trump grew up in a family business too.  It was one of the things — as our families started to get to know one another, didn’t we, Ivanka, we all realized that while we were small-town Indiana and they were big-city New York City, the bond that we shared was a family that worked in business together.

I remember one of my very first conversations with Ivanka and her brothers, was I heard them say that when they were growing up, the way they spent time with their dad on the weekends was on a job site, on a work site.  And I’ll never forget Eric saying to me over dinner when we were just having some of our first conversations, he says, and we went — when we went with dad, we worked.  (Laughter.)  This is a President who knows what makes a small family business work, and he’s going to fight for you every single day.  (Applause.)

We know that sacrifices are necessary, and we know, both of us do — and I would say especially the President — here’s the way he puts it:  When small business is strong, America is strong.  And that’s why we’re going to fight for your prosperity and opportunity every day of this administration.

The truth is that small businesses are the foundation of our communities and pillars of the American economy.  A stunning 99.7 percent of all businesses in America are small businesses.  And no fewer than 57 million Americans work for small businesses.  Nearly half of all private sector jobs in the United States of America are at small businesses.

Folks, that’s amazing.  And on behalf of the President of the United States, let me personally thank every small business who has gathered here today for the opportunities that you create every day for the American people.  (Applause.)  And every single one of you are a profile in courage.  Every single one of you took a risk when you set up shop, and now you’ve made a difference, not just in your family’s life but in the lives of your employees, the life of your community, and the life of our country.

You know, it’s the small businesses that are really the lifeblood of small communities and large communities all over the country.  I mean, you can’t hardly go to a softball game without seeing the banner of a local business hanging on the fence at the back of the field.  Every philanthropic effort, every worthy cause in communities finds an ally in the small businesses that are so well represented here at this forum today.

And let me also say — I want to give congratulations to the National Small Business Person of the Year — the two persons of the year, Garrett and Melanie Marrero of the Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii.  (Applause.)  Appreciate it.  You just did that Hawaii thing.  I just learned to — (laughter) — I did, I just learned that.  I was visiting troops on the way back from the Asia Pacific and they taught me that little Hawaii thing.  There you go.  Listen, we want to congratulate — he was very insistent when we met backstage that he and his wife have built this small business together, and you have our congratulations.

Congratulations also to all the runners-up.  Deborah Dudley, of Oscarware in Kentucky.  (Applause.)  Rozanna Garman, from RHD Enterprises in California.  (Applause.)  And Corliss Udoema, from Contract Solutions, just across the river in Virginia.  (Applause.)

And I’d like to recognize all of you who won Best Small Person Business of the Year in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the territories, and, if you’ll permit me, let me just say to Dave Thompson, who’s here representing Joey Rivera from Rivera Consulting in the state of Indiana, congratulations to all our state winners.  We are proud of you all.  (Applause.)

You know, the truth is, we’re celebrating today not just because each and every one of you deserves the recognition and the encouragement for all the long hours, but the truth is, our economy, from coast to coast, depends on each one of you every single day.  Your strength is America’s strength and the success of our country depends on your success.  And I’m here today to promise you that President Donald Trump is going to work every day to make your businesses stronger, to make them more successful than ever because President Donald Trump is the best friend America’s small business will ever have in the White House.  I promise you that.

President Trump knows what we said before, that small businesses are the engines of the American economy, and as President Trump has promised, we’re going to restart the engine of the American economy to create jobs and prosperity and growth like never before.  And as the President loves to say, it’s going to happen a lot faster than you could possibly imagine.  In fact, it’s already happening.  It’s a promise he’s made to you and the American people, and, as we like to say, we’re in the promise-keeping business in this White House.

It’s really been inspiring to see President Trump’s unwavering commitment to small businesses in his first 100 days in office.  On day one, President Trump went right to work, fighting for each and every one of you.  He picked a world-class Cabinet filled with business leaders who know what it takes to succeed in a competitive marketplace.  People like Linda McMahon; our new Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta — who I just had the privilege of swearing in this past Friday — are all people that really understand, along with our Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, and other, what it takes to make the American economy hum.
President Trump has also signed more bills cutting job-killing regulations than any President in American history already.  (Applause.)

Here’s one of my favorites — one of my favorites is, early on the President instructed every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new regulation on businesses large and small in the United States of America.  He authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to protect America’s energy future, and the President is cutting back mandates and rules that are raising your energy costs and making it harder for businesses to get ahead and to grow.

No matter where you look, President Trump has taken decisive action to get government out of the way so you can do more, create more, innovate more, and grow more jobs.  And American small businesses know it.  All across this countries, small businesses haven’t been this optimistic in a decade.  And they have good reason to be.  With the efforts of those of you in this room and the businesses you represented, it’s remarkable to say that, in 2017 alone so far, the American economy, driven by American small business has created 500,000 new jobs for the American people.  It’s an incredible start.  (Applause.)

And folks, he’s just getting started.  This last week, President Trump laid out a plan keeping another promise to the American people that he made.  This President is going to go to the Congress in the days ahead, and we’re going to pass the largest tax cut in American history.  We’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  (Applause.)
We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to give the American people the kind of world-class healthcare they deserve.  You know it really is a remarkable debate, and it’s still going on even as we speak.  I’m headed to Capitol Hill right after I leave you, and we’re continuing to talk with members of Congress.

It was about a month ago Congress wasn’t quite ready to take that first step to repeal and replace this disastrous policy, but the President remains confident that with your strong support — and maybe you could talk to a member of Congress before you leave town — (laughter) — that we’ll get a fresh start on healthcare in America.

The truth is, every single promise of Obamacare has been broken.  Remember all of them?  They said, if you like your doctor, you can keep him.  It wasn’t true.  They said, if you like your insurance, you could keep it.  It wasn’t true.  They told you the cost of health insurance and premiums would go down.  Actually, we’ve seen premiums skyrocket across the country.

Well, I want to promise you, working with the leadership of the House and the Senate, President Trump is going to make sure that these majorities and this nation’s capital keeps our promise to the American people.  We’re going to repeal Obamacare, and we’re going to give the American people the ability to purchase health insurance that they want, not that the government mandates and dictates.  I promise you that.  (Applause.)

Beyond all that, we’re going to keep slashing through red tape, we’re going to rein in unelected bureaucrats so they can’t cripple the economy from the comfort of their taxpayer-funded metal desks.

We’re going to roll back the Dodd-Frank legislation so that small businesses like yours will have access to lending and financing so you can grow your business with your independent and community bankers in your hometown.  (Applause.)
And if you haven’t noticed it yet, the American people elected a builder to be President of the United States, and we’re going to pass an infrastructure bill so that America once again has the best roads, the best bridges, the best highways and airports, and the best future we could possibly imagine.  We’re going to rebuild America, and it’s going to support economic growth.  (Applause.)

Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to do all this and more, with your support, so that every small business, and anyone who dreams someday of starting a small business, has the best shot at success.

This week, with President Trump, we’ll celebrate all that small businesses have achieved and all that you do for America each and every day.

But today, we also recommit ourselves.  We recommit ourselves to the President’s agenda of strengthening small businesses so that you can accomplish even more in the months and years ahead.

And let me just say, before I close, how much I admire everyone in this room.  You know, I’ll never forget when I started my own little business in the basement of my house, it was the scariest time of my life, and the most exciting.  I had an idea, so I hung some fluorescent lights down in the basement, I put in a phone line and a fax machine.  All the kids were real small, Ivanka.  They were all under the age of five.  And I told Karen, I’m going downstairs to work the phones and work on the business, and she kept track of all the kids running around upstairs.  I could hear them all day long.  (Laughter.)

But it was an exciting time, and I remember every single morning.  What it drew out of me was the faith and the perseverance and the determination.  You know, when you work for yourself, when you’re building something for yourself, you’ve got to find more in yourself.  And each and every one of you have done that, and you’ve become the kind of people that have really just made your communities a more special place to live and to work and to raise a family.

And so I just, lastly, on behalf of our President, just want to thank you for all those long and lonely hours, for all the energy and effort that you’ve put into building your small business.  Because ultimately, it hasn’t been for you.  It’s been for the people that you love, it’s been for the people that you employ, and it’s a benefit to your communities, to your state and your nation.  And I just am here to tell you that your President knows that.  He’s lived that.  And his Vice President knows it and has lived it as well.

So we thank you for all your sacrifices.  We honor you today for the recognition that you have received, winners all in this room.  And we wish you every blessing for much continued success.

And let me close by saying I have faith.  I have faith that under President Donald Trump, America’s small businesses are going to continue to lead the way, to drive our economy and foster a brighter future for yourselves, your communities, and our countries, just as you always have.  And I say with confidence, with President Donald Trump in the White House, the best days for American small business and the best days for America are yet to come.

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  It’s wonderful to be with you all.  And congratulations on your honors today.  (Applause.)

3:40 P.M. EDT