Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Self-Employed? Own a Small Business? Seize These Year-End Opportunities to Optimize Your Long-Term Cash Flow

Dec. 31 is just four days away. If you're self-employed or own a small business, here's a handful of things you can do to optimize your long-term cash flow -- for yourself, your business and/or your employees...

1] Open and/or fund a 401[k] or SEP-IRA account. The ShareBuilder 401[k] is an affordable, simple and flexible retirement program for small-business owners looking to save money while helping employees invest in their futures. Self-employed people might be interested in a SEP-IRA or other retirement vehicles offered by Schwab, Fidelity, E*Trade and other brokerages. NOTE: To maximize tax benefits and cash flow, accounts needn't be funded by Dec. 31. They simply need to be opened by year's end, then funded before taxes are filed.

2] Is it time for your office to have a hot, new Mac? Tax benefits for business. Buy your new Mac by Dec. 31 at the Apple Store.

3] Looking to replace your HP printers, print cartridges, etc.? Get some HP hot deals -- Winter '06 promotions.

4] Resolve to boost your productivity in 2007 with a new PDA. Check out these deals on Palm handhelds and Treo smartphones.

5] Stock up on pens, paper, paper shredders and other office must-haves at

6] Always wanted an ergonomically designed, award-winning Herman Miller Aeron chair [pictured above]? Now's the time to buy it at Beat the 2007 Herman Miller price increase -- shop now at

7] Secure your computer[s] in 2007. Get Norton Internet Security 2007 today!

8] Going global? Learn the language of your new clients, customers and colleagues with Rosetta Stone language software.

9] April 15 is sooner than you think. Have TurboTax Federal + State Home and Business 2006 Win/Mac at the ready to prepare your taxes.

10] Feeling charitable? Charity Navigator's online evaluator will help you match your dollars with your interests, and determine which not-for-profit groups are likeliest to utilize your financial gifts most effectively.

Get a MacBook Pro -- 17-inch, 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo -- for only $2,499. That's 11% off the original price!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life is good® Festivals Unite Communities, Help Kids Face Unfair Challenges

Company Info
Life is good, Inc.
283 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: [617] 266-4160 x210

Founded: 1994

Employees: Started with two -- brothers/co-founders Bert and John Jacobs, who sold T-shirts on the street. [See their prototype design, featuring "Jake" -- circa 1994 -- above.] Current head count: 228 people -- including 164 in LIG's Hudson, N.H., facility; 22 in Concord, N.H. [the other production printing facility]; 26 within LIG's three retail stores; and 16 in LIG's design center.

Contact: Jim Laughlin, Director of Communications

The Business
Life is good® designs, manufactures and markets various optimism-, fun- and fitness-themed merchandise in 14 product categories for women, men, girls, boys, tots, pets and the home. The company has its own factory in Hudson, N.H., and 41 other locations help manufacture LIG goods.

LIG's spring 2007 catalogue features no fewer than 936 products; e.g., T-shirts, caps, loungewear, footwear, mugs, sweatshirts, jackets, blankets, balls, Ultimate discs, wallets, backpacks, towels, thermoses, photo frames, water bottles, yoga mat bags. Many items feature LIG's omnipresent "Jake," who's smiling ear-to-ear while running, golfing, grilling, hiking, playing tennis, cycling, roasting marshmallows, surfing, snowboarding, practicing yoga, lounging, etc.

LIG products are available via the company's Web site; LIG's own three retail stores; 4,500 retailers across the country [e.g., gift shops, resorts, fitness and outdoor/adventure stores]; online stores, such as; and at 45 Genuine Neighborhood Shoppes [GNS] locations in 20 states, stretching from California to Maine -- each of which exclusively sells LIG's full line of products. LIG is on track to have 6,000 retailers and 200 GNS locations by 2010.

Corporate and group sales discounts are also available. For information, dial LIG's toll-free number: [888] 339-2987 x151.

The Buzz
What's not to love about a company that evangelizes optimism and whose motto is "Do what you like. Like what you do"? Factor in that Life is good® products are of consistently high quality and that its founders literally launched their company on the streets of South Boston, and you've got a classic small-biz success story.

How did LIG score a profile on GoodBiz113? Well, it seems that, besides liking to have a good time, the company also has a very generous spirit-in-action heart. Their primary giveback initiative: annual outdoor festivals that connect communities and raise funds for kids who face unfair challenges [e.g., life-threatening illnesses, trauma].

The Catalyst
Jim Laughlin, LIG's director of communications, said the horrific events of 9/11 marked a turning point. "Life is good® has built itself on a message of timelessness and optimism," he explained. "We seek to have the greatest positive impact we can have in the communities in which we do business. With 'Jake' as the inspiration-cum-mascot of the brand, the mission and next steps for the brand are always defined by asking the question, 'What would Jake do?'"

The Strategy
"Following Sept. 11, the answers to this question were even more clear," Laughlin noted. "At that point, LIG made a conscious and ambitious effort to focus all of our marketing resources on the philanthropic mission.

"In 2001, Life is good® selected a pair of long-term causes, also family-focused: Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses; and Project Joy, which provides play therapy for traumatized children. We created a vehicle that similarly resonates with the Life is good® brand: seasonal outdoor festivals."

The Process
Life is good® Pumpkin Festivals and Watermelon Festivals, which are free and open to the public, help communities come together to feel good and to do good.

Last summer, more than 35,000 people [AKA "melonheads"] flocked to Boston Common for LIG's third annual Watermelon Festival. Music, classic summertime picnic food [e.g., PBJ's, burgers] and old-fashioned activities [e.g., Frisbee, bocce ball, Whiffle Ball, tug-of-war, seed-spitting] filled the day. By day's end, a new World's Greatest Backyard Athlete was named -- Curtis May -- and $201,326 was raised for Project Joy. Click here for 2006 Watermelon Fest photos taken by students at The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University [CDIA].

Oct. 21,2006, marked LIG's fourth annual Pumpkin Festival. Homegrown activities -- including pumpkin carving, scarecrow stuffing, gourd bowling, treasure hunting, and navigating a puzzling pumpkin maze -- filled the day. The event also smashed a Guinness World Record for having the most lit jack-o'-lanterns: 30,128! More than 100,000 people filled Boston Common that day, and raised $271,027 for Camp Sunshine. A total of $554,211 was raised at Life is good Pumpkin Festivals nationwide. Click here for 2006 Pumpkin Fest photos taken by CDIA students.

100% of all LIG festival profits -- from product sales, fund-raising contests and events, personal donations, and LIG donations -- go to Camp Sunshine and Project Joy. [FYI: Long- and short-sleeved 2006 Pumpkin Festival T-shirts are still available.]

The Partners
* City of Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department -- LIG's festivals began in Boston in 2003, and are still held in Boston Common -- the nation's oldest public park
* Newland Communities -- Starting in 2006, the nation's leading developer of master-planned communities helped LIG Pumpkin Festivals spread through the country -- i.e., to 18 communities in seven states
* Other brands who share the same spirit and mission, and who are looking for the opportunity to tap into the goodwill and charitable efforts of LIG's world-class festivals; e.g., Annie's Naturals, Citizens Bank, Olivia's Organics, Starwood Hotels, UPS
* Local media partners who helped generate support and awareness of the charitable efforts

The Upshot
Over 250,000 people have come out to LIG's homegrown festivals. "Now, in addition to the major festivals, Life is good® contributes to charities that help kids facing unfair challenges in communities across the country," Laughlin added. "From outfitting a group of runners in Life is good® apparel who are running in memory of a loved one, to donating gift baskets to help raise money for therapeutic riding programs, Life is good® strives to spread 'good vibes' across the country. This year, Life is good® touched more than 150 communities through such charitable donations."

The Financials
In the past three years, Life is good® festivals have raised more than $1.2 million for its two highly valued nonprofit partners and beneficiaries: Camp Sunshine and Project Joy.

The Takeaway
Looking back, is there anything LIG would do differently in launching its giveback initiative? "We would have started earlier," Laughlin candidly noted. "There's never enough time to make the positive impact you want to make in the world."

As for sharing the wealth of his company's philanthropic experience with other small-business owners, Laughlin was equally forthright -- and inspiring. "Don't make giving back the whipped cream of your business -- something to be added on top of the real work," he advised. "Weave charitable giving into the fabric of your mission and your business. Demonstrate it as the core of what you do. Find a means to make your giving a true and unique expression of who you are are what you value. Ensure that your employees and business partners know it and are iinvolved. Finally, aim high. Try to take on something nearly impossible to achieve, then die trying.

"Life is good® has made charitable work a pillar of our mission as a business. If you ask any employee what the most important thing we do is, they will say 'Festivals.' That feels pretty darn good."

Note: Sponsorship opportunities are now available for the 2007 Life is good® Pumpkin Festival and 2007 Watermelon Festival. Let these events' good vibes, giving spirit, and open-air access to tens of thousands of family members, young couples and college students flow to you as a sponsor and exhibitor. Please contact Jim Laughlin by telephone at [617] 266-4160 x210, or email LIG at for a complete package detailing sponsorship benefits.

Looking for the perfect year-round gift? gift certificates make shopping easy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Alexis Bailly Vineyard Helps U of M Cultivate Wine Industry in Minnesota, "Where the Grapes Can Suffer"

The Company
Alexis Bailly Vineyard
18200 Kirby Avenue
Hastings, MN 55033
Phone: [651] 437-1413

Founded: 1973, when the late David A. Bailly, a Minneapolis attorney, bought a 20-acre field of winter rye near historic Hastings, Minn., and planted it with French grapes. In 1977, Alexis Bailly Vineyard's first wines were produced -- using 100% Minnesota-grown grapes -- and then released for sale in 1978.

Employees: Two full-time, plus several seasonal volunteers

Contact: Nan Bailly, owner/master winemaker

The Business
Thirty-three years ago, viticulturalists scoffed at the notion of wine grapes actually being able to survive Minnesota winters. Unfazed by the naysayers, David Bailly, an amateur enologist with an educated palate, aspired to make a truly excellent Minnesota wine. After all, he reasoned, French winemakers have long held that, in order to produce great wine, the grapevines must endure hardship -- e.g., wind, sleet, snow, drought. Enthusiastically, he adopted ABV's motto -- "Where the grapes can suffer" -- and proceeded to establish Minnesota's very first commercial winery.

During ABV's early years, Bailly and his six kids worked weekends in the vineyard and winery. Since his death in 1990, daughter Nan has continued to pursue her father's romantic fantasy of producing quality wines from Minnesota-grown grapes.

Today, ABV has two full-time employees: Joan, the retail manager, runs the tasting room, where customers can sample and purchase wines; and Wioletta, the vineyard manager, cultivates ABV's 13 acres of surrounding grapevines to create a rustic and bucolic setting.

During harvest time, lots of volunteers come out to help. "The wine is only made during harvest, so as soon as the grapes are picked, they are brought to the winery for crushing, fermentation and the winemaking process," Nan explained. "The harvest is a celebratory time for family and friends to help pick the grapes in the time-honored tradition of small communities toiling together."

The end products of all that toil and celebration? ABV now produces nine wines: Country White, a semi-dry white table wine; Seyval Blanc, a dry white table wine; Country Red, a dry red table wine; Frontenac, a dry red table wine; Ratafia, a red fortified sweet dessert wine, infused with other fruits, herbs and spices; Country Rosé, a semi-sweet rosé wine; Hastings Reserve, a red fortified sweet dessert wine; Ice Wine, a sweet white wine; and the just-released Voyageur, a bold red wine of blended Old World French grapes and new varieties developed to survive Minnesota winters.

ABV wines are distributed and sold exclusively in Minnesota, and are available in restaurants and retail stores from border to border. "Minnesota people drink Minnesota wine," said Nan. "Besides, Prohibition created barriers that prevent small wineries like ours from selling across state lines."

The Buzz
To date, ABV has received more than 50 awards in national competition -- primarily, for their dry table wines. Most recently, the company has already won two two silver medals for its Voyageur, which was just released in June 2006. And last month, Minnesota's leading newspaper, the Star Tribune, hailed Voyageur as "the best Minnesota wine, ever, by far."

Such attention is met with a vintage blend of great frustration and pride in having pioneered an entire industry in a state whose climate isn't ideal for growing grapes and forging ahead to make high-quality, award-winning wines. "The Voyageur represents 30 years of working with unknown, untried, obscure Minnesota grape varieties, and struggling," said Nan. "Not just to get them to grow, but to try and figure out how to make commercial-quality wines from grapes where no winemaker has gone before.

"The decision to move away from varietal wines and create a proprietary blend is based partly in the narrow selection of grapes I have to choose from, and looking for the best qualities of each to balance each other. It's also from the confidence I've gained from 25 years of winemaking to produce a superior wine that's based on my ability to taste and create a superior wine."

ABV's kudos come as no surprise to Sam S. Haislet, "owner, president, sole proprietor and shopkeeper" of Sam's Washington Avenue Wine Shop, one of the Twin Cities' premier retailers for wine enthusiasts. He's sold ABV wines in restaurants and retail stores for 15 years. Since opening his own shop in May 2006, ABV wines have consistently ranked among his top 10 bestsellers.

"For Minnesota wines, that's a bit high for overall bestsellers," said Haislet, who then attempted to classify ABV wine buyers. "New wine drinkers are willing to try anything as they go along in the world. People interested in Minnesota products are always interested. Real connoisseurs have a definite interest in the wines, as they are so unique. It is only the people in the middle -- i.e., the ones who think they know a lot about wine, but, in fact, are intimidated by the whole thing [drinking Minnesota wines] -- that hold up their noses at the wines."

Even with all the company's awards for what's inside their bottles, one of ABV's most gratifying accolades thus far is for its package design. "At the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition, we received a bronze medal for our Ratafia, in the package-design category," said Nan. [See bottle on far right, above photo.] "This is the event everyone in California attends, with their new, fancy bottle designs...

"What I enjoyed so much about winning, is that industry statistics indicate wineries typically spend a minimum of $200,000 to develop a wine's new package design," Nan beamed. "Well, mine was free because I designed it myself!"

The Catalyst
When trailblazer David Bailly first planted the vineyard in 1973, pure passion, faith and groundbreaking spirit led the way. He had no real road map, how-to manual, nor anything else of analytical substance to help him grow wine grapes and make wine in Minnesota -- much less, truly good wine grapes to suit his refined tastes.

"There was little, if any, research with grapes at the University of Minnesota then," said Nan. "There was, however, a young student in Horticulture who took an interest and, in fact, was the man who created the Frontenac grape [the red grape now used by most Minnesota winemakers]. There was also a rogue grape hybridizer named Elmer Swenson who was working with cold-hardy table grapes, and the University adopted his plant material to help form the foundation of their research department.

"The credit for the program at the University can be handed partly to my father for his pioneering ideas, and to then-Gov. Rudy Perpich, who spent a day harvesting grapes with us and saw the potential for a new cottage industry. He signed the first grant giving funds to the U of M to start the research into cold-climate viticulture."

The Partners
While the U of M is an ABV collaborator, of sorts, Nan counts others, too. "My No. 1 partner will always be my husband -- and my dog, Leon, too, who passed away this summer -- mostly, because this has been a long, hard road, and a winemaker needs lots of love in this climate," she related.

Then there's the Three Rivers Wine Trail, a joint-marketing venture of six wineries in the Mississippi River Valley. "It has been a great deal for us," said Nan. "We've been the only winery for a long time, and it has been a real benefit to promote ourselves with other wineries in the area."

Last, but definitely not least, there's ABV's distributor, The Wine Company, and its president, Larry Colbeck. "He's been more of a helper, supporter, advisor and friend to my winemaking than anyone else in bringing me to where I am today with the winery," Nan noted.

The Process
ABV has a two-acre experimental vineyard of University of Minnesota hybrids, and gives feedback to the U of M -- both on the cultivation of the new varieties, and on the flavors they find for winemaking. Nan has also worked closely with the U of M's Entomology Department on research re the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle [MALB], an insect that's posed a real problem for grape growers in the region, and has played a key educational role in advancing Minnesota's wine industry.

The Upshot
Minnesota now has 19 wineries, approximately 50 commercial vineyards and more than 100 small hobby vineyards. They and the University of Minnesta can all thank ABV, the only commercial winery in Minnesota for more than a decade, for having the vision and fortitude to plow the way.

"In the mid-1980's, when I started here at the U, we set up a test pilot of unnamed selections from our grape breeding program at ABV with Nan and her father, David," recounted Peter Hemstad, University of Minnesota grape breeder. "Those vines provided us with some valuable information about their performance on very sandy soils. Since then, we've gotten feedback in a more anecdotal way about how our new cultivars have performed for Nan."

Anna Katharine Mansfield, head of the University of Minnesota's new Enology Project [she relocated here from North Carolina in 2001 for the job] also has high praise for ABV's contribution to Minnesota's growing wine industry. "Nan Bailly, like many other regional producers, has generously donated wine for various educational events we've run," she said. "She and her late father, David, have certainly succeeded in a difficult wine market, and have inspired many others to do the same."

As for ABV's most recent release, the well-traveled Mansfield praised, "Voyageur is certainly a well-made wine, and would be recognized anywhere as such."

The Financials
ABV is at the hub of Minnesota's wine industry, which accounted for 293,000 bottles sold retail in 2005. The total value of U.S. wine shipments in 2005 was an estimated $10 billion.

The Takeaway
Aside from the occasionally fruitful and mutually rewarding synergies, small-business owners, as a whole, are a very determined, independent and, sometimes, lonely lot. In order to succeed in our chosen, uh, fields, we have to be in order to stay true to our vision of the possible.

Nan Bailly is no exception. In trial-by-fire style, she's toiled and experimented and politicked, and now has a seemingly secure hold on what works and doesn't work -- at least for ABV's high-quality products -- and she's courageous enough to speak her mind in the land of Minnesota Nice.

Case in point: ABV's relationship with the U of M. "Developing cold-hardy plant material is a long process, and we realize the length of time it takes to sort through all the variables to find the one vine that will do it all," Nan noted. "Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

"The Frontenac [grape] was supposed to be our panacea, but has proven to be a difficult grape to make wine from. There is a new variety, Marquette, which was just released, but the plant material is in great demand, and there is little available for us to plant. Given the years it takes to bring a new grapevine into production, I am reluctant to commit to any new vines at this time. Although the University is funded with our state tax dollars, it seems they are making a lot of money selling plant material to growers in other states, and we in Minnesota do not get priority."

Then there's Nan's seasoned, real-world take versus the U of M's academic approach to winemaking. "I am critical of the advice they are giving to winemakers in the region to promote the 'acid-style' of wines being made with primarily the Frontenac grapes," Nan continued. "I contend that consumers reject that style, and further reject the notion that Minnesota wines need to be approached as unique and different from wines produced elsewhere.

"I have also been at odds with the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, which works closely with the University -- both of the wines produced and promoted by them, and in their legislative pursuits, which have inflated the price of grapes sold in Minnesota and, in my opinion, have contributed to the degradation of the quality of wines made."

What does Nan view as the most valuable components of the U of M's Enology Project? "The hiring of our state enologist, Anna Katharine Mansfield, is, perhaps, the most profound aspect of the program at the University," she replied. "As both an advisor and consultant who understands the unique qualities of the grape varieties we are working with, she provides us with a great advantage in promoting the success of our winemaking, and replaces the expensive and elusive wine consultants the industry would otherwise provide."

Looking forward, where does Nan see ABV's relationship with the U of M headed? "I will continue to support the program, take advantage of the opportunities to have excellent consultation from their enologist, and look forward to any new varieties developed for winegrowing," she responded.

So, what lessons has Nan learned, and what nuggets of seasoned wisdom would she share with other would-be Minnesota winemakers? "I've learned that I am alone in this world and need to figure out what I am doing all by myself, and when I succeed, to trust my instincts and never look back," she candidly replied. "To others, I'd simply suggest that they move somewhere south or wait for global warming to arrive in the Midwest."

On a more serious note, Nan expressed genuine gratitude for her father, and imparted a lesson to anyone embarking on a dream: "I was given a gift from my father, thankfully recognized it at a young age, and thank him for providing me with the template for my life. I have needed to remind myself of my father's tenacity to never give up -- but, maybe more, for the love he had in working with his hands and pursuing a dream without trepidation."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Senate Confirms Jovita Carranza as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration

Early on Saturday, Dec. 9, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jovita Carranza, an experienced Latina business executive, to be the U.S. Small Business Administration’s next deputy administrator. She was nominated by President George W. Bush, and had been unanimously endorsed Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Named Hispanic Woman of the Year by Hispanic Business Magazine in 2004, Carranza said she is enthusiastic about transferring her 30 years of experience at UPS to the SBA. She drew a direct parallel between the corporate operations she directed at UPS to the infrastructure and mission at the SBA.

"Both institutions have a network whose employees are dedicated to meeting the service needs of small businesses and the communities they serve," said Carranza. "Like large corporations, small businesses expect timely assistance in the delivery of services. I will bring to the Small Business Administration a goal-oriented management philosophy with a history of successes on two continents."

SBA Administrator Steven C. Preston welcomed Carranza’s confirmation. “I look forward to working with Jovita,” he said. “Her combination of drive, insight, personnel management and business-process experience offers a tremendous value to the SBA as we work toward a higher degree of customer responsiveness and operational sophistication at the agency.”

Carranza drew praise from Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], outgoing chair of the Senate committee, and from Sen. John Kerry [D-Massachusetts], ranking member and committee chair designate. “I truly believe that Jovita Carranza is yet another outstanding example of a dedicated American making a tremendous sacrifice to serve her country by accepting this nomination to help lead the SBA -- an agency that is essential to the well-being of our nation's economic vitality,” Sen. Snowe said.

Sen. Kerry said he was anxious to get Carranza on the job at SBA, so she can transfer her private-sector experience to the SBA. “You’ve got a terrific set of credentials and background,” he told her. “It’s impressive. It’s a great story. It’s the way it should work in America.”

Carranza started at UPS in 1976 as a part-time, night-shift clerk in Los Angeles, and then worked her way up to regional manager for international relations in Miami by 2000. Most recently, she was vice president of air operations at the worldwide package shipping company at its facility in Louisville, Ky., and oversaw the cutting-edge automated package processing operation there.

While at UPS, Carranza also served as president of Latin American Operations and the Caribbean. Additionally, she has extensive experience in human resources management and workforce planning.

Carranza, a native of Chicago, earned her MBA from the University of Miami [Fla]. In addition to her professional career, Carranza has been actively involved in community service -- both in leadership and advisory capacities.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dec. 1 Marks World AIDS Day; (PRODUCT) RED Companies Continue the Global Fight Against AIDS

Twenty-five years have passed since the virus later identified as HIV was discovered, yet the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS has relentlessly increased. In Africa alone, 5,500 lives are lost daily and unnecessarily to the deadly disease.

As GoodBiz113 reported in October ["Apple Announces iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition; Portion of Proceeds Contributed to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa," Oct. 15], several companies comprise the Bono- and Bobby Shriver-led (PRODUCT) RED initiative to raise awareness and funds in the global fight against AIDS: American Express [U.K. only], Apple, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Motorola, [U.K. only] and MTV Networks. Each partner has developed special (PRODUCT) RED items, and donates a portion of sales or profits from those products to support Global Fund programs.

GoodBiz113 is proud to partner with two (PRODUCT) RED companies: Apple, which donates $10 from each sale of its sleek 4GB and 8GB iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition models; and Converse, which donates 5% of the net wholesale price of its distinctive, red-eyelet (PRODUCT) RED shoes. [See product sample, above.]

[Cindy, a Converse staffer, recently informed GoodBiz113 that the company's (PRODUCT) RED inventory sold out "quite quickly," and doesn't plan to restock until February 2007. Till then, customers have the "Design Your Own -- MAKE MINE RED" option at; i.e., choose from several syles, colors, materials, etc., and include the special (RED) eyelets at the top.]

According to preliminary tracking numbers, total (PRODUCT) RED sales in the U.S. during the first six weeks since launch have raised enough money to:

* Provide more than 40,000 men or women with anti-retroviral treatment for a year;
* Provide more than 2 million peer educators with HIV training;
* Provide a year’s worth of school materials and daily hot meals for more than 86,000 children orphaned by AIDS;
* Provide more than 1 million Rapid Tests, which detect HIV and deliver instant test results.

Looking for current information about AIDS? The Kaiser Family Foundation has a wealth of fact sheets about HIV/AIDS -- on both the global and U.S. fronts.

To keep informed about (PRODUCT) RED developments, click here.

Also, tune into a special one-hour program tomorrow evening [Friday, Dec. 1]. Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek have teamed to create a documentary, "Ashley Judd and YouthAIDS: Confronting the Pandemic," which premieres at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST on TLC.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rodrigue Teams With New Orleans Saints to Support Hurricane Katrina Relief

George Rodrigue's Blue Dog Relief campaign to help raise funds for Hurricane Katrina relief continues with indomitable and, of course, creative spirit.

As GoodBiz113 reported on Sept. 26, 2006 [see "Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans"], the internationally renowned artist has developed several works to help support post-Katrina recovery efforts. He's also unveiled clever "To Stay Alive We Need Levee 5" campaign materials to heighten awareness -- locally and in Washington -- of New Orleans' need for an infinitely stronger levee system.

Rodrigue's latest addition to Blue Dog Relief is "We Are Marching Again" [above, right], a new silkscreen he created in collaboration with the New Orleans Saints NFL football team to help raise money for the New Orleans Museum of Art [NOMA], which was severely damaged during Hurricane Katrina. The signed, open-edition print [image size, 18 X 23; paper size, 22 X 28] marks his sixth in the Blue Dog Relief series, and can be ordered online at Please allow three weeks for delivery.

Sales of Rodrigue's first creation in the Blue Dog Relief series, "We Will Rise Again" [image size, 23 X 16; paper size, 28 X 20] will continue until Dec. 31, 2006, or until the remaining 100 or so signed prints are sold -- whichever comes first. Sales proceeds benefit the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter.

To date, Blue Dog Relief: George Rodrigue Art Campaign for Recovery has donated more than $600,000 to NOMA; American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter; United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area; and United Way of America.

Up to $50 off NFL Jerseys at!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Democrats Win 80% of the Top 20 2006 U.S. Senate Races; Sen. John Kerry to Steer Small Business Committee

Last Tuesday, 16 of the small-business-friendly Democrats in the top 20 U.S. Senate races won. Here are the final results:
#1 -- Pennsylvania: State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. [D] beat junior Sen. Rick Santorum [R], 59%-41%.
#2 -- Ohio: U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown [D] defeated senior Sen. Mike DeWine [R], 56%-44%.
#3 -- Rhode Island: Former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse [D] beat incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee [R], 53%-47%.
#4 -- Virginia: After two days of vote-counting, Jim Webb [D] was declared the winner over junior Sen. George Allen [R], 50%-50%.
#5 -- Montana: State Senate President Jon Tester [D] narrowly beat junior Sen. Conrad Burns [R], 50%-50%.
#6 -- Missouri: State Auditor Claire McCaskil [D] defeated junior Sen. Jim Talent [R], 51%-49%.
#7 -- Maryland: Open seat. U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin [D] beat Lt. Gov. Michael Steele [R], 55%-45%.
#8 -- Arizona: Junior Sen. Jon Kyl [R] defeated his challenger, State Democratic Party Chair Jim Pederson [D], 55%-45%.
#9 -- New Jersey: Incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez [D] beat his challenger, Tom Kean Jr. [R], 54%-46%.
#10 -- Tennessee: Open seat. Businessman Bob Corker [R] defeated U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. [D], 51%-49%.
#11 -- Michigan: Junior Sen. Debbie Stabenow [D] beat her challenger, Mike Bouchard [R], 58%-42%.
#12 -- Minnesota: Open seat. After consistently running a positive, high-road campaign since the day she announced her candidacy, Hennepin County Attorney General Amy Klobuchar [D] handily won over U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy [R], 60%-40%. [Politicos take note: Geez, maybe deceptive and mean-spirited attack ads aren't the key to winning elections these days...]
#13 -- Washington: Junior Sen. Maria Cantwell [D] staved off her challenger, Mike McGavin [R], 60%-40%.
#14 -- Nebraska: Junior Sen. Ben Nelson [D] defeated his challenger, Peter Ricketts [R], 64%-36%.
#15 -- Nevada: Junior Sen. John Ensign [R] beat his challenger, businessman Jack Carter [D], a businessman, 57%-43%.
#16 -- West Virginia: Senior Sen. Robert Byrd [D] defeated his challenger, multimillionaire John Raese [R], 66%-34%.
#17 -- Vermont: Open seat. U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders [I] beat Richard Tarrant [R], 67%-33%.
#18 -- Florida: Senior Sen. Bill Nelson [D] staved off his challenger, former secretary of state and current state Rep. Katherine Harris [R], 61%-39%.
#19 -- Connecticut: Junior Sen. Joe Lieberman [D/I] won over Democratic challenger Ned Lamont and GOP challenger Alan Schlesinger, 56%-44%.
#20 -- Junior Sen. Daniel Akaka [D] beat his challenger, state Rep. Cynthia Thielen [R], 63%-37%.

In addition, now that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will be steering the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, perhaps the end to rampant cronyism and multibillion-dollar, no-bid government contracts is near. We can only hope that the playing field for small businesses will even be more level and fairer than it's been since, well, January 2001.

This afternoon,'s Jeffrey Gangemi reported that leaders of small-business advocacy groups are optimistic: "They think the election results will have specific benefits for different industries, ranging from increased access to to federal small-business contract set-asides to more loan availability through the embattled Small Business Administration."

Stay tuned.

Sources:, National Journal, The New York Times

Just released: Former Sen. John Edwards' book, "Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives." [Great gift idea for folks of all political stripes!]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Voting Records and Goals of 2006 U.S. Senate Candidates in Top 20 Races Provide Glimpse of Friends to Small Business

National Journal's latest rankings of key 2006 U.S. Senate races -- AKA "The Top 20" -- were just released. GoodBiz113 will leave the hot-button issues -- e.g., Iraq, terrorism, stem-cell research, energy independence, immigration, abortion rights, gay marriage -- for prime-time soundbites. Here, we'll glimpse where candidates stand on issues that directly impact our nation's 25.8 million small businesses and serve the greatest possible good: health care, jobs, tax reform and technology.

#1 -- Pennsylvania: Junior Sen. Rick Santorum [R] advocates increased offshore drilling; has pledged to continue opposing the estate tax [AKA "death tax"], which would eventually eliminate the tax imposed on estates and gifts by 2010, at an estimated cost of $75 billion annually when fully phased in; and has proposals for health savings accounts and privatized Social Security, which would benefit few wage earners. He voted "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on replacing farm price supports; "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on telecom deregulation; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; and "yes' on permanently repealing the estate tax.

Santorum's No. 1 challenger is State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. [D], who advocates alternative fuel development; pension security; a minimum-wage increase; repeal of tax cuts on the top 1% of earners; and has touted a proposal that would make health insurance available to more Americans by developing a purchasing pool for small businesses that would give them more purchasing power, thus reducing rates.

#2 -- Ohio: Senior Sen. Mike DeWine [R] broke with his party on a federal minimum-wage hike by voting for it, but he has not come out to support the state proposal to raise the minimum wage. He voted "yes" on limiting the self-employment health deduction; "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "yes" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on telecom deregulation; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; and "yes" on permanently repealing the estate tax.

DeWine's challenger, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown [D], has voted "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on eliminating the estate tax; "no" on making Bush tax cuts permanent; "yes" on providing tax relief and simplification; "no" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends; "no" on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access; "yes" on establishing "network neutrality" [non-tiered Internet]; favors Ohio's constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage; and has declared that health care should be a right, not a privilege.

#3 -- Rhode Island: In 2000, incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee [R] voted against phasing out the estate tax. Since then, he voted "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; and "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax.

Chafee's challenger, former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse [D] holds that, "Small businesses keep our economy growing," and aims to "raise the minimum wage to a living wage" while "rolling back the tax reductions to America's wealthiest." Whitehouse has declared the Bush tax cuts to be "improvident and unfair," and need to be repealed. "They've been improvident because they've run up our budget deficit to the highest levels ever," Whitehouse said during a recent debate with Chafee. "Middle-income Rhode Islanders [got less tax relief than] somebody making more than $200,000. It has not been fair. We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts." Whitehouse also wants to provide all families with health insurance.

#4 -- Virginia: Junior Sen. George Allen [R] voted "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "no" on repealing the tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; and "yes" on permanently repealing the estate tax.

In his April 2006 campaign announcement, challenger Jim Webb [D] declared, "We hear a lot of talk about helping the average American, words about patriotic people who work hard and do the best they can for their families, hoping for an even break. But anyone who watches the news knows that this administration -- always supported by my opponent -- has put the interests of big business and corporate America before your interests. It's time for Democrats to stand up again for working people, for working Virginians who expect their leaders to listen." Webb also intends to make tax reform a main priority: "Our economy is in trouble. Our tax policies make no sense. Our country is breaking into three pieces, with the people at the top living in a luxury never before dreamed of, even as our middle class sees its jobs being outsourced overseas, their health care slipping away and our public education systems declining, and as the people at the bottom are becoming a permanent underclass." On health care, Webb has noted, "Legislation should focus on providing people access to health care, not simply on corporate profits...Don't let drug-company lobbyists write prescription drug plans."

#5 -- Montana: Junior Sen. Conrad Burns [R] voted "yes" on limiting the self-employment health deduction; "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "yes" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on repealing the tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; "yes" on telecom deregulation; and declared that a minimum wage increase is OK -- provided that it's packaged with a tax cut.

Burns' No. 1 challenger, Montana Senate President Jon Tester [D], is a third-generation Montana farmer. As state senator, he helped pass funding of workforce training grants; eliminated taxes on 13,000 small businesses; established a Main Street Montana program to revitalize downtown areas across the state; and passed his bill to promote Made in Montana products. Tester also successfully fought to lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, and to expand renewable energy production. If elected, he aims to fight for affordable health care ["Families can't afford to get sick; that's not health care," Tester declared.]; raise the minimum wage to a fair and livable wage; and "focus tax cuts on the middle class, not the rich."

#6 -- Missouri: The state's minimum-wage ballot issue looms as a key issue itself and as a catalyst for getting voters to the ballot boxes Nov. 7. Junior Sen. Jim Talent [R] hasn't taken a position on the ballot measure to raise the state's minimum wage, and supports federal increases only if they include tax breaks or other breaks for small business. Among the votes he cast: "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates; and "yes" on permanently repealing the estate tax.

Talent's challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill [D], favors Missouri's minimum-wage ballot initiative and, if elected, will work to try and get a "long-overdue" federal minimum-wage hike passed. "It is a shame Congress has not raised the minimum wage in 10 years," said McCaskill. "This issue is pretty simple. You just can't make it in America on $5.15 an hour. We must increase the minimum wage. Too many Missourians are working too hard at too many jobs just to scrape by. I strongly support rewarding their hard work. It's immoral for full-time workers in America to live in poverty." McCaskill will also "expand Medicare for people, not drug companies."

#7 -- Maryland: Open seat. U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin [D] represented Marylanders in Congress since 1987. Since then, he voted "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on replacing illegal tax breaks with $140 billion in new breaks; "no" on eliminating the estate tax; "no" on making Bush tax cuts permanent; "yes" on providing tax relief and simplification; "no" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends; and "yes" on establishing network neutrality.

Cardin's key opponent, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele [R], aims to expand opportunities for minority-owned businesses; create legacy wealth for future generations; make tax relief permanent; and repeal the "death tax." He also advocates association health plans. "I believe we need to create a health-care system that works for small-business owners and small-business employees," Cardin told the Baltimore Sun. "Millions of them are going without health care today just because bureaucrats in Washington won't wake up to the fact that our current system is burdensome and ineffective. That is why I support allowing small businesses to band together and compete for better insurance options. With Association Health Plans, small employers will be able to pool their health-insurance costs and have greater purchasing power to achieve better benefits for their employees."

#8 -- Arizona: Junior Sen. Jon Kyl [R] voted "no" on establishing medical savings accounts; "yes" on limiting the self-employment health deduction; "yes" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on permanently repealing the "death tax"; "yes" on telecom deregulation; and "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Kyl's challenger, Jim Pederson [D], a commercial developer and chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, supports increasing the minimum wage; negotiating better prescription drug prices; and opposes Kyl's "Paris Hilton Relief Act of 2006" [AKA estate-tax repeal], which would drastically raise the thresholds at which the estate tax kicks in -- to $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple -- while slashing the estate tax rate from 46% to 15%.

#9 -- New Jersey: Incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez [D] has voted "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings acccounts; "no" on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140 billion in new breaks; "no" on eliminating the estate tax; "no" on making the Bush tax cuts permanent; "no" on permamently repealing the estate tax, holding that doing so only benefits the wealthiest 1%; and advocates limiting tax breaks on our nation's wealthiest 1%, to help pay for affordable health care for everyone. "Tom Kean Jr. and his friends in the Bush administration have chosen to create bigger and bigger federal deficits by granting tax breaks to giant corporations and the super-rich, rather than address the vital health-care needs of America's families," Menendez responded during a debate held this September. "No one should ever have to choose between filling their prescriptions and their refrigerator. Everyone deserves quality health care and access to vital medicine at an affordable price."

According to Menendez' challenger, Tom Kean Jr. [R], "Governments don't create jobs; businesses do." Kean wants to make permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; repeal the "unfair" death tax and marriage penalty tax; and will support "pro-growth policies, such as lower taxes and less regulation, to attract the business investment that will create high-paying jobs for the future." He also advocates establishment of individual health savings accounts.

#10 -- Tennessee: Open seat. In Congress, Rep. Harold Ford [D] has voted "yes" to spending $167 billion over 10 years for farm price supports; "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "yes" on eliminating the estate tax; "no" on a tax-cut package of $958 billion over 10 years; "no" on making the Bush tax cuts permanent; "yes" on providing tax relief and simplification; "yes" on establishing network neutrality; and has consistently supported minimum-wage increases.

Ford's No. 1 challenger, Bob Corker [R], is a businessman who advocates "letting competition determine drug prices, not negotiation"; encourages establishment of health savings accounts; wants to stimulate job growth by "reducing taxation, litigation and regulation"; and aims to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent. "The tax cuts passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2001 and 2003 must be made permanent to keep our economy growing," says Corker.

#11 -- Michigan: Junior Sen. Debbie Stabenow [D] voted "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "yes" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates. Affordable health care is among Stabenow's top priorities. "Health-care coverage needs to be a right, not a privilege," she declared during a senate debate in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October 2006. "I've been laser-focused on working with the auto industry to more adequately and effectively to lower the costs of prescription drugs. I've also worked bipartisan to allow people to bring prescription drugs back from Canada legally."

Stabenow's No. 1 challenger, Mike Bouchard [R], avidly supports the manufacturing sector as being "the heart of the economy"; holds that the tax burden and government spending are too high; aims to make the Bush tax cuts permanent; and advocates health savings accounts to "empower individuals."

#12 -- Minnesota: Open seat. In Congress, Rep. Mark Kennedy [R] voted "yes" on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140 billion in new breaks; "yes" on zero-funding OSHA's Ergonomics Rule; "yes" on eliminating the estate tax; "yes" on a tax cut package of $958 billion over 10 years; "yes" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access; and "no" on establishing network neutrality.

Kennedy's No. 1 challenger, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar [D], pictured above, aims to "crack down on the price of health care"; "insist that our government negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies"; "aggressively fight health care fraud"; "push for a fair Medicare reimbursement system that doesn't leave Minnesota at the end of the line"; "work to reduce health-care administrative costs"; "level the playing field for farmers"; roll back tax cuts on people making over $336,000 a year; and reduce our nation's $250 billion deficit by rolling back lucrative tax benefits for the top 1%. "Our debt is approaching $9 trillion," Klobuchar noted during her debate with Kennedy on "Meet the Press" [Oct. 15, 2006]. "This administration and this Congress took a $200 billion surplus and turned it into $250 billion deficit. One out of 12 of the federal tax dollars that Minnesotans are paying goes to interest on this debt. And this is my solution: First of all, let's look at those $70 billion that's being sheltered in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda for multimillionaires. Get rid of those shelters. Next, look at capital gains. Not changing the rate, but having a third-party validator like brokerage houses post those because there's underpayment. That brings in $17 billion. Roll back the tax cuts to the Clinton levels, to the top 1%. That brings another $56 billion in. Get rid of the no-bid contracts, so we have competitive bidding: $10 billion more."

#13 -- Washington: Junior Sen. Maria Cantwell [D] has voted "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S jobs offshore; "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates. As a state legislator, Cantwell co-sponsored a bill to ensure that uninsured individuals with pre-existing medical conditions could get coverage. She's vowed to continue supporting increased federal funding for expanded health-care coverage: "It is critical that we ensure that all citizens have access to basic, quality health care."

Cantwell's challenger, Mike McGavick [R], a businessman, holds that "tax increases are counterproductive"; "health savings accounts give stewardship to families"; and aims to "harness competition and put people back in control of their health-care dollars."

#14 -- Nebraska: Junior Sen. Ben Nelson [D] has voted "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Challenger Peter Ricketts [R] supports health savings accounts; a line-item veto; fair and simple taxes; and holds that the so-called "death tax" is based on "jealousy of high achievement."

#15 -- Nevada: Junior Sen. John Ensign [R] voted "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "no" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "yes" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "no" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "yes" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "yes" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on permanently repealing the "death tax"; and "no" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Ensign's challenger, Jack Carter [D], a businessman, opposes elimination of the sales-tax deduction by the GOP, holding that they've "provided significant federal income tax relief." If elected to the Senate, Carter said he plans to focus on health care and education. "We need some sort of universal standard for health care, just like a universal standard for education...There should be some basic coverage for everyone. It should be modeled after the public education system." Carter explained that, with the public education system, people have the choice to go to a public school or to a private school at their own expense. With a health-care system that's similar to education, people would have the choice to go to a no-cost medical center or to a private doctor at their expense.

#16 -- West Virginia: Senior Sen. Robert Byrd [D] has voted "yes" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on limiting the self-employment health deduction; "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "yes" on repealing the tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "no" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax; "yes" on telecom deregulation; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Byrd's challenger, multimillionaire John Raese [R], aims to roll back regulations to spur business and job growth; reduce government regulation of private-sector employment; support tax cuts to spur economic growth and job growth; and support health savings accounts. "The free-market approach to ensuring that Americans have affordable health coverage is the best way to achieve affordable health care," he holds. "Big-government, socialized medicine doesn't work, and the American people have rejected it out of hand."

#17 -- Vermont: Open seat. In Congress, Rep. Bernie Sanders [I] voted "no" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs; "no" on eliminating the estate tax; "no" on making the Bush tax cuts permanent; "yes" on providing tax relief and simplification; "no" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends; "no" on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access; and "yes" on establishing network neutrality.

Richard Tarrant [R], aims to provide more support and advocacy for farmers; raise the federal minimum wage, and tie in COLA increases; raise the estate tax exemption, but not eliminate it; extend capital-gains and dividend tax cuts; and advocates a free-market-based system for the uninsured.

#18 -- Florida: Senior Sen. Bill Nelson [D] has voted "yes" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates. He initially voted against repealing the estate tax when he served in Congress, but has supported it since this summer, "upon realizing that a full repeal was warranted when larger-than-expected budget surpluses materialized."

Nelson's challenger is Rep. Katherine Harris [R], who came to national attention while serving as Florida secretary of state, responsible for presiding over the state results of the closely contested 2000 U.S. presidential election. [Does the term "hanging chads" ring a bell?] In Congress, she voted "yes" on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140 billion in new breaks; "no" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs; "yes" on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends; "yes" on providing tax relief and simplification; and "no" on network neutrality.

#19 -- Connecticut: Junior Sen. Joe Lieberman [D/I] has voted to expand microloans to small businesses; "yes" to allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "yes" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on limiting self-employment health deductions; "yes" on replacing farm price supports; "no" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax; "yes" on telecom deregulation; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Lieberman's Democratic challenger, Ned Lamont [D], a telecom businessman, holds that health care is a fundamental right of every American, and aims to create a business-required, federally subsidized insurance pool. He also advocates investing in our infrastructure to create local jobs; developing an interconnecting transportation strategy; and holds that network neutrality is necessary for an uncensored Internet. "It's very important that you don't allow the ISPs and the large operators out there to determine who gets access to what content," he said this summer. "When it comes down to net neutrality, this is a pipe and we're providing equal access to all of the content providers out there. And the last thing you want is large conglomerates picking and choosing who gets access to what. I can understand where, if there's some services that use up a lot more bandwidth than others, there's a tier or cost that's associated with that. But when it comes to what people can see, everybody has equal access to that. That would be wrong, like de facto censorship."

Republican challenger Alan Schlesinger [R] supports increased competition in health-care services; opposes higher taxes and more "wasteful" spending; and supports tax simplification.

#20 -- Hawaii: Junior Sen. Daniel Akaka [D] has voted "yes" on repealing a tax subsidy for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore; "yes" on establishing tax-exempt medical savings accounts; "no" on limiting the self-employment health deduction; "yes" on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada; "yes" on replacing farm price supports; "no" on killing an increase in the minimum wage; "no" on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress; "yes" on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25; "no" on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years; "no" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends; "no" on permanently repealing the estate tax; "yes" on telecom deregulation; and "yes" on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Akaka's challenger, state Rep. Cynthia Thielen [R], opposes a tax increase for Honolulu rail project, and strongly supports network neutrality. "Before the Internet, most free speech had to pass through those who owned the various media in the world," said Thielen. "With the Internet, everyone has the capability at no cost to present his or her point of view...As a Republican, I strongly believe in the power of the free market. Net neutrality gives us the freest market, for both ideas and products, in the history of civilization. As a Republican, as a supporter of open political discourse for all -- and as a supporter of small businesses both today, and those yet to be created -- I strongly support net neutrality."

Who's friendly to small business? You decide -- and please make time to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Sources: The Cook Political Report, National Journal,, U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, Wikipedia

New on Nov. 7: The West Wing -- The Complete Seventh Season

Friday, October 27, 2006

Recycline-Stonyfield Farm Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other

The Company
Recycline, Inc.
681 Main St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Toll-free: [888] 354-7296
Phone: [781] 893-1032
Fax: [781] 893-1036

Founded: 1996
Employees: 5 full-time, 3 part-time, 1 student intern

Contact: Eric Hudson, President & CEO

The Business
Recycline provides high-quality, leading-edge recycled-content and recyclable consumer goods throughout the U.S., Canada and U.K. Its growing product line includes the Preserve® and Preserve Jr Toothbrushes; Preserve Tongue Cleaner; Preserve Razor Recyclable; Preserve Replacement Blades; Preserve Tableware; and Preserve Flavored Toothpicks.

Recently, the company introduced the Special Edition Stonyfield Farm Preserve Toothbrush, to celebrate the five-year anniversary of its recycling partnership with Stonyfield Farm, the world's largest organic yogurt maker and the No. 3 brand -- organic and otherwise -- in the U.S. And, just in time to meet holiday stocking-stuffer needs, there's Recycline's new Preserve Razor Triple.

The Buzz
Consumers and groups in the "green" community have embraced Recycline since its first of roughly 3.5 million Preserve toothbrushes hit a handful of natural-food stores 10 years ago. Since the company added razors to its product line in 2004, more than 500,000 razors have been sold.

Today, you'll find Recycline's products in 4,000-plus natural-food stores and mainstream supermarkets [e.g., Whole Foods Market [NASDAQ: WFMI], Wild Oats, Trader Joe's]; online at, and at Recycline's own online store; and in 100 select Target stores [NYSE: TGT], where the design-savvy, big-box retailer is testing sales of Recycline's innovative Preserve Jr Toothbrush.

Among Recycline's countless accolades is its seal of approval as a Co-op America Green Business, and membership in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Leadership Club, a prestigious rank within the EPA's Green Power Partnership. The honor recognizes Recycline's commitment to supporting the U.S. recycling industry in its business practices, and through the company's volunteer, professional and community actions. For example, besides making products from 100% recycled plastic that are also recyclable in communities with #5 plastics recycling, Recycline buys wind power to cover 100% of its total electricity consumption.

In addition to being eco-friendly, Recycline is also very kind to critters. In fact, the company's no animal testing policy has won high praise from the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, which maintains the personal-products industry's Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals. Further, sales of Recycline's Preserve Jr Toothbrush help support the National Wildlife Federation [NWF], whose far-reaching aims to protect and restore the environment have inspired Recycline's product-design and educational efforts to simultaneously teach kids and adults about endangered species, oral hygiene, and the importance of recycling.

The Catalyst
It's tempting to presume that President and CEO Eric Hudson was initially inspired to launch Recycline after having seen "The Graduate" -- the 1967 hit movie in which Dustin Hoffman's character, Benjamin Braddock, is assured that the future is in...wait for it..."plastics." Not true.

"My brothers have often kidded me about it," said Hudson. "I was a bit too young to have the concept in mind when I first viewed it. I think I was too busy ogling over Mrs. Robinson to be thinking of business or plastics."

Nope, the real impetus for Hudson -- who, by the way, drives a Volkswagen Jetta fueled by used french-fry grease from Wendy's -- was his perceived need to stimulate the use of recycled materials in order to assist community recycling efforts. He deemed that increased consumption of products made from recycled materials would propel those efforts.

The Partner
Stonyfield Farm, a strategic partner with Groupe Danone [NYSE: DA], is based in Londonderry, N.H., and is a kindred spirit in the sustainable-business realm. The company has contributed more than 1 million yogurt cups to Recycline's recycled-plastics manufacturing process, which saves Recycline more than $20,000 per year in recycled-plastic purchases [mostly, in the form of used toys and grocery carts]. Stonyfield also helps to synergistically promote Recycline's products and practices.

The Strategy
Hudson believed that high-quality and innovative goods made from recycled materials were necessary to win consumer interest. Beyond that, he believed, those products also needed to be recyclable. Oh, and they should also be staple items; i.e., consumed on a regular basis.

The Process
Recycline's first product was the Preserve toothbrush, with nylon bristles and a 100% recycled-plastic, curved, ergonomic handle that helps users brush at a dentist-prescribed 45-degree angle. The brushes come with [or you can request] postage-paid mailers, and the company recycles returned toothbrushes and packaging into plastic lumber that's used to make picnic tables, decks, boardwalks, park benches and other durable products.

Since its launch 10 years ago, Recycline has added other oft-used personal-care products -- including a tongue scraper, razor and flavored toothpicks. Its line of sturdy, reusable and dishwasher-safe tableware -- including tumblers, plates and cutlery in bold and bright pear green, blue, red and lilac purple -- has also taken off.

In 2000, Stonyfield Farm stepped in to begin supplying thousands of used yogurt cups per month to Recycline's plastic recycling process. Stonyfield has also promoted Preserve toothbrushes via prominent placement on the covers of more than 20 million Stonyfield Farm yogurt lids, which are seen by consumers in all 50 U.S. states and several international locations [e.g., Hong Kong]. In exchange, Recycline seizes every opportunity to trumpet Stonyfield's generous, ongoing supply of yogurt cups.

"The purpose of this partnership is to show consumers, as well as other companies, what can be done in terms of planet-friendly practices," explained Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield's president and CEO. "At the time we started the relationship, Recycline was just getting off the ground, and we felt it was a good way to support a smart, growing, environmentally friendly company. We started from the ground up, too, and know what it's like to get a company off the ground."

The Upshot
Hudson and Hirshberg are both quite candid about the power of optimizing their synergies as much as possible. "People love a story," said Hudson. "Companies working together create a story, and when they join together to reuse or recycle on one side what another cannot use, it's great.

"From a marketing perspective, we not only have similar ideals, but we try to reach many of the same consumers. By partnering with like-minded companies, we are able to communicate our message to more consumers and a broader audience. It also enables both partners to capitalize on the 'power' of both brands."

Case in point: When Stonyfield printed the story of Preserve toothbrushes on its yogurt lids, it demonstrated Stonyfield's environmental stewardship to their customers.

"We know that innovative, environment-friendly practices are not only good for the planet -- they're good for the bottom line, as well," said Hirshberg. "Recycline has proved that -- as has Stonyfield. In the past 10 years, through improved efficiency, Stonyfield Farm has saved over $1.7MM and 46 million kWh -- enough energy to power 4,500 homes for a year -- and prevented over 14,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere."

"Simply put, by helping each other, we achieve a greater reward to one another than we could have with the same effort focused on ourselves," noted Hudson. "From a grander viewpoint, in order to have an effect on the impact that we as a people have had on our earth -- through the industrial revolution and beyond -- people have got to join together, and companies have got to join together, to reverse the harm that we have caused."

The bottom line? "Many consumers are looking to spend their money in ways that help the planet, and support companies that are doing the same," said Hirshberg. "Companies like Recycline and Stonyfield gain respect and loyalty from our consumers, helping us to grow faster than our competition."

The Financials
In 1997, Recycline's first full year of selling product, sales were approximately $60,000. Today, the privately held company generates several million dollars in sales -- thanks, mostly, to the Preserve toothbrush, Preserve tableware and Preserve razor, each of which ranks No. 1 in their category in the $50 billion natural-products channel.

The Takeaway
Reflecting on his entrepreneurial adventures, what would Hudson advise other would-be small-biz owners to do? "Be ready to run a business," he replied flat-out. "Though it is our passion -- and that speaks miles to measure enthusiasm -- in the end, it has to be a successful, well-run business in order to survive."

What, if anything, would Hudson do differently in launching Recycline? "Nothing really comes to mind," he said. "There were not a lot of grand plans that mapped roads we went down and then regretted...We've explored a few opportunities that we have since moved away from, but I never really regretted this process. It is all part of evolution. Now, we know what to expect if we go down a similar path we once veered from."

And Hirshberg? "I don't think we'd do anything differently," he said. "This partnership has been mutually beneficial and easy to manage. We love working with Recycline and have been thrilled to see them thrive and grow since we bagan our relationship."

As for lessons learned along the way, Hirshberg is -- no surprise, here -- totally in sync with Hudson. "We've learned that there is strength in numbers -- at least when it comes to like-minded folks, groups or companies," he said. "If you've ever gone cross-country skiing after a fresh snow, you know that blazing a trail is challenging. But if you bring a friend along and take turns leading the way, it's easier on both -- not to mention, more fun. That's an analogy I would apply here. For an innovative company to lead the way, it takes perseverance and collaboration.

"Also, as environmentally friendly companies, we share common ideals and add strength to our environmental efforts and messages through partnerships. We all share the planet, and companies like Stonyfield and Recycline understand that there must be a wide-ranging, coordinated effort to develop and implement energy-saving, waste-reducing initiatives. The more the merrier, as far as we're concerned."

While studies have found Monday to be the most frequent day for the occurrence of fatal heart attacks [mostly, due to stress about facing another week of reporting to jobs that people dread], the notion is far removed for Hudson. "I love coming to work every day," he beams. "Really. I am energized by Recycline's team, and I think we're all energized by what we are doing. Every day, we have an influence on what Recycline will be. I think we all feel good about being part of forming an innovative, resourceful, pioneering consumer-products company that seeks to be as environment-friendly as possible in every step that we take.

"From the start, combining my personal commitments and beliefs with my professional life has been a wonderful thing. The largest thing I am personally committed to is the health of our planet, what we humans are doing to it, and what we can do to reduce our impact on it."

And to think that brand of eco-consciousness-in-action all starts and ends -- and then starts again -- with plastics...

A Traveler's Guide to Going Green! Green Hotels, Tips for Responsible Travel, Reducing Your Carbon Footprint, and More on

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Apple Announces iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition; Portion of Proceeds Contributed to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa

Editor's note: As promised since our humble beginnings, GoodBiz113 is primarily about showcasing small businesses. On occasion, we're going to shamelessly feature small-biz champions and socially responsible GoodBiz113 Mall merchant partners...

Apple® just announced the iPod® nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition. (RED) was created by U2 lead singer Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage business in the fight against AIDS in Africa by getting the world’s most iconic companies to make uniquely branded products. A portion of the profits from these products goes directly to the Global Fund to fund programs for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED comes in a beautiful red aluminum enclosure and features 24 hours of battery life; Apple’s innovative Click Wheel; and an incredibly thin and light design. Apple will contribute $10 from the sale of each iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED to the Global Fund to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Apple will also offer a $25 iTunes® (PRODUCT) RED gift card, available for purchase at Apple’s retail and online stores next month.

“We’re ecstatic that Apple is giving their customers the choice to buy a red iPod nano, and help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa,” said Bono, co-founder of (RED). “It's wonderful to see this incredible level of commitment from companies that are willing to lend their creativity in the fight against AIDS in Africa -- the greatest health crisis in 600 years.” Other (PRODUCT) RED partners include American Express, Converse, Emporio Armani, Gap and Motorola.

“Now, customers can buy the best music player in the world and do something to help the world at the same time,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re honored to work with Bono, (RED) and this team to contribute to an incredibly important initiative and help change the way people think about AIDS in Africa.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002, with the support of the world’s leaders and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need by supporting locally-driven strategies. To date, the Global Fund has committed $5.2 billion [US] to more than 363 programs in 131 countries. For more information about (RED), please visit

Pricing & Availability
The iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition is available worldwide in a 4GB model for $199 [US] through Apple’s retail stores and the Apple Store® []. All iPod nano models include redesigned earbud headphones providing superior comfort, fit and sound quality, and a USB 2.0 cable. The second-generation iPod nano features up to 24 hours of battery life and completely skip-free playback. The iTunes (PRODUCT) RED gift card will be available through Apple’s retail stores and the Apple Store [] next month for $25 [US].

iPod nano requires a Mac® with a USB 2.0 port and Mac OS® X version 10.3.9 or later and iTunes 7.0 or later; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows 2000 [Service Pack 4], Windows XP Home or Professional [Service Pack 2] and iTunes 7.0 or later. Internet access is required and a broadband connection is recommended.

Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. Music capacity is based on four minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding; actual capacity varies by content. Photo capacity is based on iPod-viewable photos transferred from iTunes.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

4GB iPod nano RED Special Edition. Just $199, only at the Apple Store.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans

The Company
Rodrigue Studio Aspen
635 E. Cooper St.
Aspen, CO 81611
Phone: [970] 920-7726

Rodrigue Studio Carmel
6th Ave. and Dolores
POB S-3214
Carmel, CA 93921
Phone: [831] 626-4444

Rodrigue Studio Lafayette
1434 S. College Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70503
Phone: [337] 233-3274

Rodrigue Studio New Orleans
721 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Phone: [504] 581-4244

Founded: 1989
Employees: 14 [including all four studio/gallery locations]

Contact: George Rodrigue, Owner

The Business
Rodrigue Studio sells paintings, prints, sculptures and jewelry created by George Rodrigue, prolific artist-author-altruist who was born in New Iberia, La., some 135 miles from New Orleans, 62 years ago. While his subjects include a vast variety of landscape settings and people, perhaps Rodrigue is most famous for his iconic Blue Dog -- the distinct, yellow-eyed character that appears in diverse formal and informal scenes.

Rodrigue's work has been shown in individual, group and retrospective exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. Select works are in the permanent collections of several prestigious institutions; e.g., New Orleans Museum of Art [NOMA], Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

The Buzz
Simply put, Rodrigue's good -- and he has distinguished commissioned works and accolades to illustrate that fact. Among them:
* 1986: Commissioned by Republican Party to paint President Ronald Reagan [Reagan later donated painting to Louisiana State University]
* 1988: Commissioned by Republican Party to paint Vice President George Bush and his 10 grandchildren [painting now hangs in Bush's private office]
* 1989: Painted three Cajun Easter eggs for annual White House Easter Egg Roll
* 1992: Commissioned by Carillon Importers to paint Absolut Louisiana for USA Today
* 1993: Carillon Importers commissioned Absolut Rodrigue
* 1995: Commissioned by New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to paint Louis Armstrong
* 1996: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival commissioned portrait of Pete Fountain; and Neiman Marcus commissioned catalogue cover design for The Book [Butterflies Are Free]
* 1997: Commissioned by Democratic Inaugural Committee to paint President-elect Bill Clinton and Vice President-elect Al Gore
* 1998: Commissioned by New Orleans Jazz Club to create 50th anniversary poster; and Neiman Marcus commissioned catalogue cover design for The Book [Hawaiian Blues]
* 2000: Commissioned by Young & Rubicam to create paintings for ads promoting Xerox Color Inkjet Printers; and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival commissioned painting of Al Hirt
* 2003: Honored as Outstanding Alum of the University of Louisiana [along with baseball legend Ron Guidry]
* 2004: Painted official portrait for the inauguration of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Rabineaux Blanco; inducted into Louisiana "Order of Living Legends" by the Acadian Museum; delivered guest lecutre at the Great Hall of the Nantucket Atheneum, the historical library on the island of Nantucket; and honored as Artist of the Year by the American Liver Foundation in Birmingham, Al.
* 2005: Created official 25th anniversary artwork for the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans

The Catalyst
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina -- the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history -- devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States. Most notable in media coverage were the cataclysmic effects on the city of New Orleans, La., and in coastal Mississippi. Levees separating Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans were breached by the surge, ultimately flooding 80% of the city and many areas of neighboring parishes for weeks.

All told, Katrina is estimated to be responsible for $81.2B in damages, and for killing at least 1,836 people. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes, jobs, businesses and communities. Criticism of federal, state and local governments' reaction to the Category 5 hurricane has been widespread, and resulted in an investigation by the U.S. Congress and the resignation of Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] Director Michael Brown.

The Partners
* New Orleans Museum of Art [NOMA]
* Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross [ARCNO]
* United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area
* United Way of America

The Strategy
After Hurrricane Katrina, Rodrigue opened Rodrigue Studio Lafayette as a temporary gallery location about 135 miles from his hot-spot gallery in New Orleans' French Quarter, where Blue Dog was born. While government officials wrung their hands, the Louisiana native set about simultaneously touching, informing, enlightening and prospering people as his artistic and generous spirit led him to do.

The Process
Once relocated, Rodrigue immediately created We Will Rise Again [see image, above] to benefit the Red Cross in response to Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. This startling, deep-blue work depicts the American flag covered with water. "The Blue Dog is partly submerged, and its eyes, normally yellow, are red with a broken heart," Rodrigue wrote in September 2005. "Like a ship's S.O.S., the red cross on the dog's chest calls out for help."

We Will Rise Again was the first of five works that the acclaimed artist created for his new initiative, Blue Dog Relief: George Rodrigue Art Campaign for Recovery. To directly benefit NOMA, which was closed for six months due to flood damage, he also painted Throw Me Something FEMA and You Can't Drown the Blues.

Following those releases was Rodrigue's launch of a campaign for New Orleans levee protection. He sent a print of To Stay Alive We Need Levee 5 to every member of Congress, and channels sales proceeds from silkscreen prints and related campaign materials -- including T-shirts, lapel pins, bumper stickers and buttons -- to NOMA.

Most recently, Rodrigue donated his Cut Through the Red Tape image to the United Way for use in promoting their new 2-1-1 dialing system. United Way 2-1-1 seeks to eliminate the red tape of reaching human-service agencies -- particularly, in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

The Upshot
Last spring, Rodrigue accepted the Southern Woman Magazine Spirit Award for his contributions to the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. On Oct. 14, 2006, he'll receive the Red Cross Humanitarian Award at a gala in his honor at NOMA; proceeds from the evening event will benefit the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Financials
Thus far, the donation tally to all Blue Dog Relief beneficiaries is $700,000 -- including a check for $100,000 that Rodrigue presented to NOMA on March 3, 2006, to help kick off its grand re-opening: "The HeART of New Orleans," a three-day weekend celebration of the arts.

Funds have also been distributed to the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross; the Christian Brothers Foundation in New Orleans' City Park, to care for the elderly Brothers who were displaced following the storm; and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Chefs Cook for Katrina Foundation, to help Chef Paul and other chefs who have cooked for Katrina's first responders, police, firefighters, volunteers and the military. As sales of Rodrigue's open- and numbered-edition prints grow, proceeds will continue to benefit NOMA, Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross, United Way of the Greater New Orleans Area, and United Way of America.

The Takeaway
Now, with one year's 20/20 hindsight, is there anything Rodrigue would do differently to implement Blue Dog Relief? "Not really," he replied. "It's worked perfect from the beginning and is still going strong."

If other artists/entrepreneurs/small-business owners sought to do creative giveback/fund-raising initiatives in their own communities, what would he advise them to do? "Create a program which is not only meaningful to you, but also to your customers," said Rodrigue. "Also, do something that your size company can handle and that is also a passionate cause for your staff [if you have one].

"This effort is one that our staff is proud to be a part of because they were personally affected, and because they see the need in the New Orleans area -- so they work extra hard to make it successful. This means extra hours for most of them, because we're not used to processing this sort of volume."

What about PR and marketing? "The biggest challenge is getting the word out. However, today with the Internet, that's taken on a whole new level," noted Rodrigue. "Remember to consistently build a mailing list which includes e-mail addresses. Then when the crisis arises, you'll have somewhere to start."

Rodrigue explained that Blue Dog Relief afforded many challenges [AKA opportunities] to retool their order-fulfillment process. "We made several changes to the way we normally do things," he said. Such as? "Such as offering online ordering for the first time; allowing two weeks for shipment; and tallying relief totals monthly -- or even bimonthly -- rather than daily. We have only one bookkeeper, plus our regular business to sustain, as well. In fact, it was so overwhelming when we first started, that it was about six weeks following when we first posted We Will Rise Again that we were able to make our first payment.

"To further complicate matters, the credit-card companies held off paying us because they thought something was fraudulent, due to the large volume; it took over a month to get that resolved. This was very frustrating, since we were anxious to pass the funds along to the non-profits...If you anticipate a purchase pattern which differs from your company's norm, I recommend giving merchant services and the credit-card companies a heads-up."

In fact, Rodrigue Studio has established entirely separate banking and merchant-services accounts for Blue Dog Relief. "In an effort to make it easier to keep the money separate, we set up not only a separate bank account, but also a separate merchant-services account and machine," Rodrigue noted. "This meant that, for non-online purchases, each gallery had to call one location to run through credit cards. It was kind of a pain at first, but we eventually got it down -- and it certainly makes things much easier from the accounting end."

Note: The period to purchase signed, open-edition prints of We Will Rise Again ends Dec. 31, 2006.