This week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is celebrating National Small Business Week. The effort includes events across the country designed to help small businesses start, grow and expand.

It has been a half-century since President John F. Kennedy issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, to recognize the critical contributions of America’s small business owners. Today, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and annually they create nearly two-thirds of the new jobs in the U.S. 

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. When they grow their companies, small business owners create new jobs, drive innovation, revitalize their neighborhoods and increase America’s global competitiveness. 

This year, Small Business Week is featuring forums on topics such as finance, digital marketing, IT and ObamaCare. Panels include: Going Global, Government Contracting for Women-Owned Businesses, Social Media for Small Business, Managing Your Online Reputation, Affordable Care Act 101, Entrepreneurship for New Americans, and How to Get a Loan for Your Business.

SBA will close the week with the national award ceremonies in Washington, D.C., when the 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year will be announced. Some other SBA awards include: Entrepreneurial Development Awards, Federal Procurement Awards, National Small Business Champion Awards and State Small Business Persons of the Year Awards. 

The Phoenix Award is given to a small business owner who has overcome adversity. Last year’s winner was Barry O'Donovan of Kilkenny House Pub in Cranford, NJ, who was recognized for his restaurant's recovery after flooding from Hurricane Irene.

There is also an award for Lender of the Year. From my perspective, it could be one of many institutions.  In recent months, big banks have come back to the small business loan marketplace.  According to my company's most recent analysis of small business approval rates, large lenders are approving 70% more loans than they did a year ago.

Small Business Week events are being held in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, as well as Washington.  National Small Business Week is also featuring daily online forums focusing on topics including how to improve access to capital.  Events are streamed on the SBA’s website: www.sba.gov/smallbusinessweek

Rohit Arora is co-founder and CEO of Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace that connects small- and medium-sized businesses with a network of 1,200+ lenders, service providers, and complementary business tools.  Having arranged $800 million in funding, Biz2Credit is a leading resource for loans, lines of credit, working capital and more.  Follow Rohit on Twitter @Biz2Credit and on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/businessloan.