Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Presenting the Small Businessman of the Year Award

May 26, 1964

Mr. Foley, Miss McKee, and ladies and gentlemen:

There is a proverb which says, "Seest thou a man diligent in his business; he shall stand before kings. He shall not stand before mean men."

Well, we don't have a king handy, but I hope that you men who have been so diligent in your business will appreciate a President instead and allow that kind of a substitute.

I appreciate your coming here to the White House this morning. I especially appreciate the service you render as members of the National Advisory Council for Small Business. The Greek philosopher who said that giving advice is the easiest thing in the world, lived a long time before businessmen had to fill out so many forms and reports. He might not say that if he were living today.

We are trying to do something about all these reports and all these forms and also about the excessive publications and pamphlets that businessmen get in the mail. I became interested in this when a small businessman told a member of my staff that he was being flooded by pamphlets advising him how to step up egg production in the Rio Grande Valley. He manufactures plumbing fixtures in the Midwest.

My campaign is already paying off. We have eliminated 141 publications at savings in excess of $1 million a year. We have reduced by 98 the number of questionnaires and surveys and other reports which private citizens had been expected to fill out and return to their Government.

We may have come a long way since Samuel Adams said, "This is a nation of shopkeepers," but small businesses still provide one-third of the Nation's goods and services. This administration has those small businessmen very much in mind every day. Since 1960 we have increased the number of individual business loans by 4,000-from 13,000 to 17,000. The dollar amount of those loans has increased from $636 millions to $942 millions.

Our efforts to insure that small firms receive a fair share of the Government purchasing dollar have almost doubled the amount from $2.5 billion to more than $4.7 billion in 3 years. We have more than tripled loans to State and local development companies which are set up by public spirited citizens to bring new economic life to their community.

Today I am pleased to announce that we are beginning a liberalized Nationwide lending program geared to the needs of very small businesses. This program, to be known as SBA's Small Loan Program, will make it easier for businessmen to obtain loans of up to $15,000 for a maximum of 6 years.

I am also extremely happy to welcome here this morning the winner of the first Small Businessman of the Year Award, Mr. Berkley W. Bedell--one of those rare men whose pleasure is their business, and whose business is their pleasure.

Mr. Bedell represents millions of American businessmen who are in the words of the scripture, "not slothful in business but fervent in spirit." Your imagination and your industry are typical of the qualities that built America, and will keep it growing stronger.

I know the people back home in Spirit Lake, Iowa, and your Senators and your Congressmen, are proud of you, Mr. Bedell. I take a great deal of pleasure on behalf of the people of the Nation to present this award to you formally today.

Note: The President spoke at noon in the Rose Garden at the White House. His opening words referred to Eugene P. Foley, Administrator, and Rose McKee, Director of Public Information, Small Business Administration.

Berkley W. Bedell of Spirit Lake, Iowa, president of Berkley and Co., manufacturers of fishing lines and cordage, was selected for the award by the National Advisory Council of the Small Business Administration as "best exemplifying the imagination, initiative, independence and integrity characteristic of America's millions of small businessmen." As a high school student with a love of fishing, Mr. Bedell began with a bedroom workshop and a $50 investment in fly-tying equipment and developed it into a business with a $1 million a year payroll employing 250 persons.

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

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