Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Presentation of the Small Businessman of the Year Award

May 24, 1965

Mr. Foley, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I suppose it is appropriate to the occasion to say that this opportunity to join in observing National Small Business Week is no small pleasure. Certainly, it is a great pleasure to be with the affable Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Mr. Gene Foley.

Until recently, Mr. Foley was known in Washington as the only executive in the Federal Government who had the motto "Think Small." Now, he has a new distinction which makes him the envy of all of his colleagues. On the nomination of his own secretaries, Mr. Foley has been chosen as "Boss of the Year." And Gene wanted to be sure that I thought small this morning.

So, as Small Businessman of the Year he has brought an outstanding young American who just happens to be from the State of Alaska. And I assure you, Gene, that point is not lost on this native of Texas.

In all seriousness, Administrator Foley, his staff, and the friends of small business in Congress can be proud of their record over the past year. Increased efficiency and decentralization have brought about savings of $1,800,000 annually.

Local development companies financed by SBA have created nearly 8,000 new jobs, and that is a record for this program. The Service Corps retired executives have brought together some 2,500 retired businessmen whose skills and knowledge are helping about 1,000 small businessmen each month. We hope to have the total up to 5,000 by the end of the year.

Most successful of all is SBA's small loan program, providing loans up to $15,000. In the past, there was never more than 2,500 such loans made in a year. This past year more than 6,000 small businesses have received such loans, meeting a very real credit need.

So, I am proud to note that in the past 8 months small business loans made by banks, and guaranteed by SBA, have soared 700 percent. Today, 3 out of 5 SBA loans have bank participation. Now this is a fine record and it is an important record.

Small businesses constitute more than 95 percent of all of the businesses in this country. They employ 40 percent of our entire labor force. They provide a livelihood for more than 75 million American citizens.

Behind every small business that survives and succeeds, there is always at least one dedicated, determined, and untiring individual. Such a man is the small businessman that we have come here this morning to honor--Mr. Dominic Donatello of Anchorage, Alaska.

During World War II, Mr. Donatello served in Alaska, and returned there after his discharge to start his own small business in his somewhat larger family. The son of a laborer who came to this country from Italy, Mr. Donatello had one thing going for him, which may not be commonplace among small businessmen--he had a degree from MIT.

He started out part-time working in his basement making chlorine bleach. I don't know when he met Jack Valenti, but I guess when Jack was at Harvard.

Now, he has come along and built up a business as a manufacturer of cleaning products and animal feed, and I might note that he's been able to do something about Alaska's own balance of payments problem.

His firm is now exporting--as residents of the 49th State put it--to the 48.

In a new State, Mr. Donatello honors an old tradition. It is a proud privilege for us to ask him to come here with us this morning, and to honor him as the Nation's outstanding Small Businessman of the Year.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Eugene P. Foley, Administrator of the Small Business Administration. During his remarks he referred to jack Valenti, Special Assistant to the President.

Dominic Donatello of Anchorage, Alaska, owner of Don Chemical Co., producers of soap, household and industrial cleaners, and animal food, was selected for the Small Businessman of the Year Award as "best exemplifying the imagination, initiative, independence and integrity characteristic of America's millions of small businessmen." The selection was made by the National Advisory Council of the Small Business Administration in cooperation with the National Council for Small Business Management Development, a nonprofit organization.

After working his way through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in chemical engineering, Mr. Donatello started his business as a part-time operation, working alone at night and on weekends. After a period of 17 years, with the help of three loans from the Small Business Administration, he was able to expand to a modern plant with 50,000 square feet of floor space and 7 employees.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Presentation of the Small Businessman of the Year Award Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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