WASHINGTON - Senator John F. Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today addressed participants of Small Business Week - a yearly celebration of America's valued small business community at a congressional luncheon. The luncheon was to honor award winners for the SBA's Office of Advocacy.

Senator Kerry applauded innovators who have given the United States the most dynamic small business economy in the world.

"Americans are, by nature, an independent breed," said Kerry. "We are a people who value our independence. Our education system encourages our students to ask questions, and our economy is based on competition. The unique American entrepeneurial culture has hekped create the most exciting small business economy in the world. But so many small business success stories remind us of the need for public policy that helps small businesses grow -- that encourages banks to lend to small or struggling businesses.

"Small business - whether mom and pop or a fast-growth firm - is a bedrock American value and economic foundation. Because of our commitment to small businesses, small business winners in Washington can come together today and celebrate our independence and individuality. Now it's up to us to help businesses and government work together to write a new generation of small business success stories."