CLARKSBURG -– Small businesses have an enormous impact on West Virginia's economy and are major contributors to the economic survival of our state and country.

Small businesses account for nearly ninety seven percent of all businesses in West Virginia and employ over fifty percent of the state's workforce.

"Small businesses are everywhere," said Judy McCauley, director of the U.S. Small Business Administration's West Virginia District Office. "They bring innovative products and services to the marketplace and are an important source of employment and opportunity throughout the state."

In recognition of the small business community's contribution to the American economy and society, the SBA sets aside one week each year, by proclamation of the President of the United States, to honor and recognize the contributions and significant impact of small business owners and champions. The highlight of Small Business Week activities is the presentation of awards at the state and national levels.

National awards will be presented on May 18 through May 20, 2011, in Washington, D.C. During this week entrepreneurs from every state will be honored at events coordinated by the SBA. For West Virginia's top small business person, activities will include a White House visit, networking opportunities with America's top small business executives, and if selected among America's top entrepreneurs, recognition throughout the country as the outstanding small business of 2011.

Nominations are now being accepted for West Virginia's 2011 Small Business Person and Champions of the Year awards. Award winners will represent West Virginia during regional and national competition, be honored at West Virginia's Small Business Celebration scheduled for May 2011, and receive state-wide recognition in business publications throughout the state.

"Small Business Week gives us the opportunity to recognize and reward our small business owners and champions for their hard work and dedication to not only their companies, but their communities as well," added McCauley. "If you know an entrepreneur or champion who deserves recognition, take a few moments to nominate them for one of these ten prestigious awards."

Small Business Champion awards are made to individuals or organizations dedicated to supporting small businesses. Champions may or may not be small business owners. Award categories include: Small Business Person; Small Business Exporter; SBA Young Entrepreneur (under age 30); Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Small Business; Entrepreneurial Success; Financial Services Champion; Home-based Business Champion; Minority Small Business Champion; Veteran Small Business Champion; and Women in Business Champion.

The deadline for nominations is Nov. 22. Guidelines and nomination forms can be found on the SBA's West Virginia District Office web page at www.sba.gov/wv (under the Spotlight section) or by calling (304) 623-7449 or by emailing richard.haney@sba.gov.

All SBA programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.

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