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Small-Business Stamp Drive Isn't Licked Yet

September 20, 2000|Marla Dickerson

With more than 40 years of experience developing California real estate, 78-year-old Arthur Sweet isn't easily licked. Which is why the president of Sun Valley-based A&E Development Co. won't take "no" for an answer in his quest to honor the nation's small businesses with a postage stamp.

An active member of National Small Business United, Sweet conceived the idea as a way to pay tribute to the engine of the nation's economy. So, last spring he submitted his concept to the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, the group that screens stamp ideas for the U.S. Postal Service. Sweet knew going in that the office reviews thousands of suggestions each year. Still, he couldn't believe that his small-business stamp didn't make the cut.

"They've approved stamps for jams and jellies, Bugs Bunny, all kinds of stuff," Sweet said. "But 99% of all businesses in this country are small and they represent more than half the GNP. . . . We deserve a stamp."

Undeterred by rejection, Sweet has gotten 61 legislators to write letters in support of the stamp, including California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. He heads a NSBU committee devoted to lobbying for the stamp and has even commissioned a design: a block of Main Street storefronts with the words "Small Business, Good for America."

Chances are Wal-Mart won't be lining up to sell them. But Sweet figures that the nation's 23 million small-business owners could turn it into a bestseller by simply using it for routine mail. Harnessing that kind of power will be the key to swaying the Postal Service, he says.

"The Grand Canyon used to be a little river on top of the Earth; now look at it," he said. "I'm not going to let go of it [the stamp campaign]."

Those wishing to assist Sweet in his campaign for a small-business postage stamp can contact Kristie Darien, manager of government affairs at NSBU, at (800) 345-6728, Ext. 201.

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