updated 5/19/2009 4:28:46 PM ET 2009-05-19T20:28:46

President Barack Obama says the nation's small businesses are responsible for half of the nation's private sector jobs and deserve support from Washington.

Obama on Tuesday welcomed winners of a Small Business Administration award to the White House's East Room. He said some of the nation's best businesses began as small ventures, such as Google and McDonald's.

Such businesses' impact goes beyond the economy, Obama said, adding that small business owners help strengthen local neighborhoods. Given everything a small business does for its community, the government should do its part to help leaders, he said.

That's why Obama says his economic policies would help pay off private loans and increase government backing for SBA loans.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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