Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration "goes big" the first week in May to recognize America's top small businesses, the entrepreneurs who start them, and the advocates and champions who support them. National Small Business Week 2016 kicks off May 1 with an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., where national award winners will be honored and the Small Business Person of the Year revealed.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will host the awards ceremony and events. She will then travel across the country promoting and attending numerous events recognizing the tremendous contributions of small businesses, women entrepreneurs, millennial entrepreneurs, immigrant entrepreneurs and veterans.

Her stops include New York City, Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix, finishing up in California with visits to San Jose and Oakland. If you live in one of the cities where a national event will be held, check out the schedule and be sure to register in advance.

In addition, recognition and educational events throughout SBA's 10 regions and 68 districts will be held throughout the week. There is probably an event happening right in your area.

In March, Contreras-Sweet released the names of the 2016 National Small Business Week awardees in 17 different categories ranging from exporting, outreach, contracting, lending and disaster recovery to manufacturing and research and development. The 54 state and territorial winners of a Small Business Person of the Year award were also announced, and these recipients are now eligible to be selected as the 2016 National Small Business Person of the Year.

All awardees have been invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in events and ceremonies.

"National Small Business Week is an important moment when we honor our nation's 28 million small businesses and renew our commitment to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit that is central to small business success," Contreras-Sweet said. "This year's recipients are educators and dynamic leaders in their respective small business fields. It is an honor to celebrate their hard work and success."

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, which create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Small Business Week has been celebrated annually since 1963.

To be considered for one of the honors, you need to be nominated — either by a business organization, professional trade group, another business owner or even yourself and then put through a tiered review process. Nominees are selected for their longevity, ability to withstand adversity, growth in employee headcount and contributions to the community.

Events throughout the week will be live-streamed on SBA's website. Make sure to check in during the event for a live social media engagement, using the hashtag #DreamSmallBiz. For additional information, please visit the National Small Business Week website.

On a personal note, I was honored (and very surprised) to receive a Small Business Week award in 2003 as Business Journalist of the Year for the Midwest Region. I have appreciated the recognition such an award can bring and congratulate this year's winners.