Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fargo-Based Security Bank & Trust Gives $1,000 or $500 Holiday Checks to Employees, Says 'Pay It Forward'

In previous years, Fargo, N.D.-based Security Bank & Trust has taken five percent of its company earnings, then divided it up at holiday time among employees. This year, employees are receiving those year-end bonuses -- plus $1,000 checks for full-time staffers, and $500 each for part-time employees. There's just one caveat: Use the gifts for people in need.

State Bank & Trust COO Michael Solberg said the payments are part of the bank's $502,000 "Pay It Forward" initiative. "Over the past years, we have been so blessed at State Bank & Trust," he said. "We wanted to put this money in the hands of our employees, who know where the needs are in their communities. Giving back is one of our core values, and we hope this project will have huge impact in our communities in 2008."

The privately owned bank employs 500-plus people at 13 locations in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Employees were told not to use the money for themselves, their families, or families of other bank employees. They could choose an individual cause, pool their money for a larger project, or collaborate with donors outside the bank.

Each employee also received a digital video camera, and was asked to document their project and its impact by June 30, 2008. Employees can then keep their cameras or give them to someone else as a gift.

This year's surprise announcement was made over the weekend, at the bank's annual holiday party -- with special guest Caroline Hodge, a dead-ringer Oprah Winfrey impersonator [see above]. Replete with a stage designed to appear exactly like Winfrey's set, "Oprah" interviewed Solberg about the innovative give-back initiative prior to the bank's distribution of employees' bonus and gift checks.

This morning, Harry Smith, co-host of CBS' "The Early Show," interviewed Solberg and Jill Staffner, the State Bank & Trust employee who coordinated the holiday event. Click here to see CBS News' "Bank Spreads Holiday Cheer" video clip, which includes Smith's interview with Solberg and Staffner, plus footage from last Saturday's holiday party.

GoodBiz113's take: Once again, a highly ingenious and generous initiative sprouts from the small-business sector. Just imagine the impact that such an endeavor could make if, say, a leading money center bank like Wells Fargo and/or an electronics behemoth such as Best Buy did the same thing in all the communities in which they do business. Certainly the latter -- who, by the way, just announced a 52 percent rise in third-quarter profit -- at least has a few extra camcorders to deploy for a larger-scale project of this sort...

SOURCES: CBS News, State Bank & Trust [photo]

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Senate Passes First Funding Increase for Small-Business Programs in Seven Years

Today, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.] applauded the Senate’s passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, which provides more than $40 million in additional funding for key Small Business Administration [SBA] programs over last year’s funding. Each of the SBA’s core programs -- including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and the Microloan program -- will receive an increase.

"For the first time since President Bush took office, small business programs will receive a real funding increase thanks to the Democratic leadership of this Congress," said Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

"Small businesses are the economic engine of America and create two thirds of all jobs, but the Bush administration has merely used them as photo ops and backdrops to promote big-business policies," Kerry noted. "Democrats have made clear our commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and to solidifying America’s future competitive edge by investing in small-business programs."

The 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act provides almost $569 million in funding for SBA programs. When funding for the disaster loan program and non-agency spending is excluded because it fluctuates each year, the SBA’s funding is increased by more than $40 million over the 2007 funding levels.

Specifically, the SBA’s core programs will receive:
* Small Business Development Centers: Up 9 percent [from $89 million to $97.1 million]
* Women’s Business Centers: Up 4 percent [from $12.5 million to $13 million]
* Microloan Technical Assistance Grants: Up 15 percent [from $13 million to $15 million]
* Microloans: Up 53 percent [from $1.3 million to $2 million in funds to leverage almost $20 million in loans -- up from $12.7 million last year]
* Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs: Up 50 percent [from $2 million to $3 million]
* 7[j] Management and Technical Assistance Program: Up 53 percent [from $1.5 million to $2.3 million]
* HUBZone Program: Up 5 percent [from $2 million to $2.1 million]
* Surety Bond Guarantee Program: Up 6 percent [from $2.8 million to $3 million]
* Loans and Venture Capital: The SBA will be able to leverage up to $28 billion in loans and venture capital deals through the 7[a], 504, and Small Business Investment Company [SBIC] programs.
SOURCE: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Eco-Friendly Recycline Wins $100,000 Grand Prize in’s 'Boost Your Business' Contest for Entrepreneurs

GoodBiz113 profilee Recycline Inc. ["Recycline-Stonyfield Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other"], an eco-friendly consumer-products company, is the grand prize winner of the "Boost Your Business" contest. Recycline received the award – a grand prize of $100,000 – during a reception at The Forbes Galleries in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007.

Recycline, based in Waltham, Mass., makes a range of consumer products, such as toothbrushes, razors, tableware and kitchenware from recycled and environmentally preferred materials that are also recyclable. Its Preserve® brand line is currently sold at retailers, such as Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's and Wal-Mart. The company encourages consumers to send their toothbrushes and razors back for recycling.

"This was a fantastic experience, and we greatly enjoyed getting to know the four other finalists," said Eric Hudson, Recycline's founder and president. "We’re grateful for the award and the support that our stakeholders and the community showed.

"We plan to use this award to forward our mission to satisfy people’s everyday needs with high-quality, stylish, and environmentally responsible products with our Preserve® brand line of personal-care products, tableware, and kitchenware. Recycline’s win is a testament to the growing tide of interest in products and services that respect and preserve the Earth’s precious resources."

Recycline Inc. persevered over nearly 1,000 other small businesses to win the contest, which was judged by Forbes editors, readers and business experts. Recycline was among the nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs from across the country that entered the contest when it launched in March 2007.

In the first phase of the contest, co-sponsored by HP, small-business owners submitted 500-word business plans; 20 semifinalists survived. In round two, users had the opportunity to review these plans and vote for their top five.

The five finalists who made it to the final stage were flown to New York City in October to give live presentations to an expert panel of judges. Their videotaped presentations were posted on for further reader voting. The runners-up are:
* [Detroit, Mich.] – Glenn Oliver
* Presidential Classroom [Alexandria, Va.] – Elizabeth Sherman
* Simply Divine Brownies, LLC [Brunswick, Maine] – Trina Beaulier
* [Marietta, Ga.] – John Drummond

"All the finalists deserve a big round of applause,” said Brett Nelson, entrepreneurs editor. “This contest was downright grueling – especially, the final round. We wish all of them continued success, and look forward to next year's 'Boost Your Business' contest.”

SOURCES:, Recycline Inc.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kerry, Snowe and Velázquez Praise SEC's Extension for Small-Biz Compliance With Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404

After nearly a year of urging from Senators John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine], as well as Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez [D-N.Y.], today the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] agreed to provide small businesses with an additional one-year extension to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 [b] for the country’s smallest public companies.

In the wake of major corporate scandals, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 [H.R. 3763] was passed in an effort to prevent accounting fraud and rebuilt shareholder trust. However, some of its provisions -- most notably, Section 404 -- disproportionately impact smaller public companies.

These firms are currently facing increased regulatory and paperwork burdens, as well as higher costs from legal and auditing fees. As small companies operate on slimmer profit margins than do their larger counterparts, this represents a major expense. However, until today, the SEC had not acknowledged these added challenges.

Senate Small-Biz Committee Presses for More Time for SOX 404 Compliance
Earlier this year, Kerry and Snowe held a hearing focusing on the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations on small businesses, and wrote three letters to the SEC seeking additional time for small firms to comply while preserving the intent of the 2002 law.

“It took too long and it required too much pressure, but it seems the SEC will finally provide small businesses a little extra time to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms,” said Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Sen. Snowe and I strongly urged the SEC to take this action because smaller firms face higher costs to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley. This will help ease the burden on small firms and help encourage more small businesses to become public companies – while still ensuring transparency and honest accounting.”

"I commend Chairman Cox [pictured] and the Securities and Exchange Commission for implementing this delay," said Sen. Snowe, ranking member on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Doing so will give these small firms time to successfully meet Sarbanes-Oxley’s requirements and enable the SEC to fully consider the economic impacts on small, publicly traded companies."

Small firms worth less than $75 million face a higher burden than larger firms in complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. In 2006, restatements of financial results for large companies decreased by 20 percent, while restatements for the smaller firms increased by 42 percent, due to the disproportionately higher cost and time needed to comply.

"Small, public firms believe in strong, internal controls," Snowe noted. "Sen. Kerry and I will continue to vigilantly work to assure that Sarbanes-Oxley promotes corporate responsibility without driving small, public companies out of the U.S. stock market."

Click on the following links to read the letters Sens. Kerry and Snowe sent on Feb. 23, May 8 and June 6.

Velázquez Voices Her Praise of SEC's SOX 404-Related Postponement
During the past year, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Velázquez has also made repeated calls to postpone enforcement of SOX 404 regulations.

“Today’s decision is a major victory for those small companies struggling to deal with the costs of SOX 404,” said Velázquez. “This delay will help reduce the regulatory burden on small firms, and will give the SEC adequate time to more thoroughly understand its impact and to make any necessary changes.

“I have repeatedly called on the SEC to provide a hard-dollar estimate on compliance costs for small firms, but these requests – until today’s hearing – fell on deaf ears. Without solid data, we cannot truly understand the possible effects these regulations will have on small public companies and on the economy.”

At the chairwoman’s recommendation, a coalition of small-business groups stepped in and performed their own analysis. The survey found that, although SOX 404 [b] is more than a year away, 66 percent of firms have already engaged an outside auditor. This figure is a major break with the SEC’s original estimate that companies would not incur significant costs until well into 2008.

Additionally, companies reported that SOX 404 [a] compliance costs will represent more than three percent of their net income. In light of this new information, the SEC will conduct their own research as to the effects of SOX 404 compliance on small firms.

“While this delay will help ease undue burdens on small firms, it is by no means the final stage of this fight,” Velázquez noted. “I will continue to press the SEC to collect this data in a timely manner, and make certain that everything is done to ensure that SOX 404 does not undermine the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.”

SOURCES: Library of Congress, U.S. House Small Business Committee, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dec. 1 Marks World AIDS Day; (PRODUCT) RED Hits $50 Million Contribution Milestone

Yesterday, just one day before marking World AIDS Day 2007, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced that contributions from (PRODUCT) RED partners -- including GoodBiz113 ad partners American Express, Apple and Motorola -- have reached over $50 million.

This cumulative total, achieved since (RED) was launched in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver, outstrips, by far, all previous private-sector contributions to the Global Fund, and creates a new benchmark for engaging business in the global fight against AIDS in Africa.

(PRODUCT) RED has become one of the largest consumer-based income-generating initiatives by the private sector for an international humanitarian cause. As the Fund looks to existing and new donors to help raise $6 billion to $8 billion annually to finance programs globally to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, (PRODUCT) RED has become a significant and promising new source of funds.

"(PRODUCT) RED has brought about a major change in the way the private sector contributes to global causes," said Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. "We applaud Bono and Bobby Shriver for their vision in establishing the campaign, and thank (RED), its partners and the consumers who've chosen (RED) for their leadership. The contributions of (PRODUCT) RED partners have already enabled hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from AIDS treatment, prevention and care."

(RED) was created to deliver a sustainable flow of private-sector funds to the Global Fund, and to raise public awareness about the AIDS emergency in Africa. (RED) partners are Gap, Hallmark, Apple, Motorola, Emporio Armani, American Express and Converse.

The partner contributions from the sale of (PRODUCT) RED products are sent directly to the Global Fund to invest in HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. No overhead is taken out of the (RED) money, which means there is 100% throughput to the identified Global Fund grants.

(RED) funds are already at work as part of Global Fund grants in Rwanda, Swaziland and Ghana, funding programs with a primary focus on the health of women and children. (RED) funds will continue to be disbursed to these grants as soon as the next scheduled disbursement requests are received and approved by the Global Fund.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has become the dominant, multilateral financer of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, providing well over 20 percent of all international finance against AIDS, and two-thirds of global financing for TB and malaria.

So far, programs supported by the Global Fund have averted 2 million deaths through providing AIDS treatment for 1.1 million people, tuberculosis treatment for 2.8 million people, and through the distribution of 30 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide.

About the Global Fund
The Global Fund is a unique global public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector, and affected communities represents a new approach to international health financing.

The Global Fund works in close collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organizations to supplement existing efforts dealing with the three diseases.

About (RED)™ and (PRODUCT) RED
(RED)'s primary objective is to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds for the Global Fund, to help fight AIDS in Africa. Companies whose products take on the (PRODUCT) RED mark contribute a significant percentage of the sales or portion of the profits from that product to the Global Fund to finance AIDS programs in Africa, with an emphasis on the health of women and children.

Current partners are: American Express [U.K. only], Apple, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Motorola and Hallmark. is the first media sponsor in the United Kingdom, and MTV Networks is the first media sponsor in the U.S. For more information, visit

Also, for World AIDS Day, The Killers turned their new Christmas single, "Don't Shoot Me Santa", (RED) -- with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the Global Fund, for investment in African AIDS programs. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the single package -- including audio track and video -- arrives in stores. Click here to order from

SOURCES: Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, (PRODUCT) RED

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov. 21: Diversity Council to Be Featured on NBC's "TODAY"; "Stop Hate Speech Now" Campaign Debuts

This Wednesday, Nov. 21, GoodBiz113's favorite not-for-profit group is scheduled to be featured on NBC's "TODAY" show. Sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. CST, coverage of Diversity Council's far-reaching Prejudice Reduction Workshops will air.

That morning, Diversity Council's individual and corporate members will gather for a free celebration breakfast buffet in Rochester, Minn.'s Radisson Plaza Hotel, where they'll watch the "TODAY" show. Afterwards, they'll get to see the premiere of Diversity Council's fresh-from-the-editing-room TV commercial, which launches the group's new "Stop Hate Speech Now" campaign.

Each year, Diversity Council conducts Prejudice Reduction Workshops in classrooms throughout Rochester and other cities in southeastern Minnesota. In 2006, trained PRW facilitators reached a record number of 17,708 K-12 students, engaging the youths in a series of 13 presentations that build respect for human differences; e.g., race, body size, disability, sexual orientation, social class, gender, religion.

Diversity Council's PRW curriculum is available for licensing to schools and community groups nationwide. A 30-hour facilitator training seminar is also available. For availability and pricing, phone 507.282.9951, or e-mail

Diversity Council also teaches adults. Last year, the organization reached more than 2,000 business managers, teachers, graduate students, human-resource professionals, social workers and others with its innovative education programs on diversity. Facilitators conduct free business training for Diversity Council's corporate members, who receive public recognition of their support and commitment to diversity as a value-added membership bonus.

For more information about Diversity Council's expansive aims to educate, communicate, collaborate and celebrate diversity in all its myriad forms, visit

SOURCE: Diversity Council

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Sens. Kerry and Harkin Secure Additional Small-Business Research Funding for Inclusion in Rep. Murtha's Defense Bill

In a victory for small-business innovation, this week, $85 million in additional funding for the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] program was signed into law. Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Tom Harkin [D-Iowa] pushed for this funding to be included in the final version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act [H.R. 3222], which Congressman John Murtha [D-Pa., pictured] secured in the House bill. The funding will allow the military to increase the use of small, high-tech businesses to help the military develop the best technologies, diversify the supply base, and reduce costs.

“Investing in small-business research pays off, both for our national security and our economic security,” noted Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “In my home state of Massachusetts, which has received the second-most SBIR grants in the country, small businesses are helping the military cut shipbuilding costs and develop more effective unmanned transportation systems. This increased funding will help ensure that our troops have access to the best technology America has to offer.”

“This partnership between small businesses and the Department of Defense allows Iowa’s innovative technology market to support our national security endeavors,” explained Sen. Harkin, a senior member of Kerry's committee. “In past years, local businesses have helped our military members by equipping them with improved sonar capabilities and developing technologies to reduce flight-deck noise and protect against hearing loss. I am eager to see how the Iowa workforce puts these newly secured funds to good use in developing cutting-edge technologies in the coming years.”

The additional funding will be used to support the transition of SBIR technologies at the DoD: $20 million will be allocated to the Army’s Future Combat Systems; $40 million for the Navy’s surface ship and submarine development activities; and $25 million for the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Kerry and Harkin, working with Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], ranking member of the committee, will be working on comprehensive legislation to renew the small-business research program next year.

On Oct. 1, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment to temporarily extend the SBIR program through 2010 and prevent a shutdown or funding delays when the program expires in September 2008. The Senate also passed an amendment to extend a DoD pilot program that helps firms transition their projects to the marketplace.

Sources: Library of Congress, OpenCongress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kerry Pushes for Increased Lender Oversight in Wake of $76 Million Loan Fraud Scheme

Today, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.] pushed for more aggressive oversight of small-business lenders, and called on the Bush administration to strengthen its commitment to preventing future fraud. The hearing was prompted by $76 million in fraudulent loans originated by Business Loan Center LLC [BLX], one of the Small Business Administration’s [SBA] largest lenders. Kerry raised concerns that the SBA’s oversight had been ineffective or nonexistent due to staffing shortages, insufficient funding and a lack of other necessary resources.

“Government-backed small-business loans for minorities, women and veterans are more important than ever as we brace for the full fallout from the subprime mortgage loan crisis,” said Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “The Bush administration’s lax oversight of these important loan programs ultimately costs the taxpayers money. It’s crucial that the agency fixes these problems in the light of day and works to make sure that these failures don’t happen again.”

Last month, the SBA Office of Inspector General publicly released a report summarizing its audit of the SBA’s oversight of BLX. The SBA requested a large amount of the report to be redacted, including many of the Inspector General’s recommendations and the agency’s plans to respond to those recommendations. Kerry pressed SBA Administrator Steven Preston to increase transparency and make changes to the agency’s lender oversight procedures publicly.

Inspector General Eric Thorson testified that, “Whether SBA has effective safeguards, and a means of overseeing lenders that facilitates the prevention and detection of fraud, has been an area of concern and focus for my office for a number of years.

“Our audits and investigations have identified significant weaknesses in the agency’s oversight of its lenders and, since 2000, we have identified lender oversight, guaranty purchase reviews, and loan agent fraud as major management challenges facing the agency. SBA has been slow to develop its lender oversight program and, only in recent years, has the agency made progress in addressing longstanding weaknesses.”

Sens. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine] and Kerry recently introduced legislation to measure the economic outcomes and improve the oversight of SBA’s 7[a] [working capital] and 504 [fixed assets] lending programs. The Small Business Lending Oversight and Program Performance Improvements Act [S. 2288] will ensure that the SBA fully assesses the quality and performance of lender portfolios so that these loan programs remain strong and benefit small businesses to the greatest extent possible.

The National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders and the National Association of Development Companies – trade associations for the 7[a] and 504 programs, respectively – both support the bill.

GoodBiz113's take: Once again, Sen. Kerry and his colleagues are moving federal agencies -- in this case, SBA, supposedly our nation's small-biz watchdog -- closer to full accountability and transparency. Small-business owners and all U.S. citizens deserve nothing less.

SOURCES:, Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Nov. 14: Kerry to Participate in Live Web Chat on Small-Business Issues

Tomorrow, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, will participate in a live Web chat on Kerry will be available to answer questions from America’s entrepreneurs for about 45 minutes, beginning at 4 p.m. EST.

This event is a special promotion provided by OPEN from American Express®, one of GoodBiz113's premier ad partners.

To read the discussion or submit questions for Sen. Kerry, visit

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tonight: New York Giants Taste of the NFL to Benefit ShopRite Partners In Caring Fund

Editor's note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts we're producing to keep GoodBiz113 readers informed of Taste of the NFL-related events from coast to coast. [See January 2007 post, "Cuisine Concepts at Heart of Taste of the NFL -- AKA 'Super Bowl Party...With a Purpose' -- to Tackle Hunger in America."]

Tonight, at the Stadium Club in The Meadowlands Sports & Entertainment Complex, New York Giants fans will come down from the stands and get into the game -- right alongside their favorite NFL players for a Monday night showdown against hunger.

This evening's first-ever Taste of the Giants gala officially kicks off at 7 p.m., and will showcase fine cuisine prepared by the area's finest chefs, autograph opportunities, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Giants Stadium. A silent auction -- featuring signed memorabilia, tickets to great events and other items -- will benefit ShopRite Partners In Caring, a nonprofit program that helps feed hungry people throughout the New York metropolitan area.

The Taste of the Giants benefit is presented in conjunction with ShopRite and Kraft Foods. General admission tickets are $350 each, and a limited number of VIP tickets have been sold for $500 each. The VIP ticket includes a pre-event reception with players plus an exclusive gift bag.

All proceeds will benefit the ShopRite Partners in Caring Fund, a component fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey. ShopRite Partners In Caring is a year-round, community-based, hunger-fighting initiative that works with more than 70 food-industry manufacturers to provide $2 million annually to qualified charitable agencies in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Since its founding in 1999, ShopRite Partners In Caring has donated $13 million to more than 1,400 charities -- including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, child care centers, battered women's shelters, senior citizen programs, drug rehab centers, programs for the mentally and physically disabled, after-school programs, and other organizations that aid those in need.

Sources: New York Giants, ShopRite Partners In Caring

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kerry, Akaka Seek More Veteran Business Owner Data

As the nation prepares to celebrate Veterans Day this weekend, Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Daniel Akaka [D-Hawaii, pictured] are urging the Bush administration to gather more information on veteran business owners. In a letter to the Department of Commerce, Kerry and Akaka called for more detailed surveys of veteran business owners and entrepreneurs to match surveys already conducted on minority and women business owners.

“Muddling through with blinders on is not an option I’m willing to accept,” said Sen. Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “As our brave soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to make sure that the government is fully informed about the challenges veteran entrepreneurs face and the trends of veteran small-business ownership.

“Our heroes deserve every tool to succeed when they return. In order to make the kinds of policy decisions that will help our veterans, we need good information.”

“I proudly join Sen. Kerry in calling on the Department of Commerce to improve their data collection on veteran entrepreneurs,” said Sen. Akaka, chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “As the newest generation of servicemen and -women return from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, they deserve to have modernized structures in place that support their business aspirations. We need quality data on veteran businesses in order to provide them with greatly deserved opportunities for success.”

Earlier this year, Kerry expressed support for funding the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons [SBO], which includes reports on veterans, minority and women entrepreneurs. Although the Senate passed legislation fully funding the survey in October, the House version of the bill eliminates this survey by cutting Census funding by $10 million dollars. The Senate and House are currently negotiating the differences.


The full text of the letter sent by Sens. Kerry and Akaka to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez follows:

November 9, 2007

The Honorable Carlos M. Gutierrez
U.S. Department of Commerce
Herbert Clark Hoover Building
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Gutierrez:

We are writing to urge the Department of Commerce to expand the scope of statistics gathered for veteran business owners in connection with the upcoming Survey of Business Owners [SBO], which is conducted by the Census Bureau every five years.

As you know, this survey is an important tool for understanding the characteristics of American business owners, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship relies heavily on the SBO to make sound policy decisions. Likewise, the data collected through the survey would be very useful to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in fulfilling oversight responsibilities. Therefore, we are very disappointed in the limited information available about veteran and reservist small-business owners.

While the 2002 SBO -- which included limited veteran business owner information for the first time -- was a step in the right direction, its effectiveness was limited by the general nature of the information obtained. For instance, unlike the 2002 SBOs on minority and women business owners, the 2002 survey did not include localized data for veteran business owners. This severely limited the effectiveness of the information for research purposes.

There are currently 25 million veterans in America today -- including over one million who have left military service since Sept. 11, 2001. As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the number of veterans -- including service-disabled veterans -- will increase, and the services that the government provides will continue to be critical in ensuring that veterans have the economic opportunities that they deserve. By learning more about the current state of veteran business ownership, economic policies can be more effectively tailored to address any deficits and more effectively assist those veterans who want to start or expand their businesses.

Please explain to us any obstacle in improving the data collection of veteran business owners, and what the agency is doing to overcome these obstacles. In addition, please explain whether reservist business-owner data or data about service-disabled veterans can be collected in the future.

This is an important issue, and we urge the Department of Commerce to address these matters as soon as possible. If there is any way that we or our staffs can be of assistance, please have your staff contact the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at [202] 224-5175, or the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs at [202] 224- 9126.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.


John F. Kerry
U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Daniel K. Akaka
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Small Businesses Gain More Access to Federal Contracting Opportunities Under Kerry, Snowe Legislation

Today, by a vote of 19-0, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship passed bipartisan legislation which will make it easier for small businesses to obtain federal contracts.

The Small Business Contracting Revitalization Act [S. 2300] improves the oversight of unbundling contracts for small firms, increases enforcement of protections for subcontractors, and expands opportunities for minority, women and service-disabled entrepreneurs.

“Passing this legislation out of committee is just the first step towards making sure that small businesses -- especially those owned by minorities, women, and veterans -- are treated fairly in the contracting process,” declared Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“This legislation will help ensure that the Bush administration identifies opportunities for small businesses to compete for contracts, and gives small businesses that subcontract with a large firm more recourse if they are mistreated,” Kerry noted. "Small businesses are the lifeblood of America, and we need to eliminate all barriers that stand in the way of their success in order to keep the American economy healthy.”

“The Federal government is not aggressive enough in fulfilling its statutory small-business contracting goaling requirements and in assisting small businesses to access federal contracting dollars,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, [R-Maine], ranking member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“Currently, small businesses are eligible for $340 billion in federal contracting dollars, yet they receive only $77 billion,” Snowe explained. “The legislation the committee approved today will help ensure that small businesses no longer miss out on billions of dollars in contracting opportunities by taking steps to provide the federal government with additional tools it needs to consistently meet, and exceed, its small-business contracting goals. I look forward to the enactment of this bipartisan, small-business contracting legislation.”

The bill was drafted by Sens. Kerry and Snowe, and cosponsored by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-Md.]. Specifically, the bill addresses challenges faced by small businesses by:

* Reducing contract bundling by improving oversight of bundling regulation compliance by the Small Business Administration [SBA];

* Preventing misrepresentations in subcontracting by prime contractors by increasing oversight and establishing enforcement mechanisms;

* Helping service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses gain government contract and subcontract opportunities by expanding the authority for sole-source awards;

* Directing the SBA to implement the women-owned small business program – enacted into law in 2000, but which the Bush administration has failed to implement – within 90 days;

* Strengthening the government’s ability to enforce the size and status standards for small business certification.

* Extending the 8[a] contracting program through 2012, and improving it, by:
1] Allowing the Small Disadvantaged Business [SDB] certifications issued by other agencies to be accepted by the SBA;
2] Adjusting for inflation the personal income and net worth requirements for 8[a] program participants; and
3] Prohibiting qualified retirement plans from being used by the SBA to determine an individual’s net worth.

GoodBiz113's take: This bipartisan legislation is most impressive and far-reaching across diverse demographics. S. 2300 deserves to be passed by the full U.S. Senate and Congress ASAP -- to benefit all small businesses and our stakeholders. Once again: Hats off to the do-something 110th Congress!

Sources: Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Committee Examines Economic Impact of the Nation’s Small Firms

This morning, Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez [D-N.Y.] gave the following opening statement at a House Small Business Committee hearing on the state of the small-business economy:

"Today’s hearing will examine the production, employment, and output of our nation’s small businesses as drivers of the U.S. economy. There can be little doubt that, at its heart, our nation’s economy is truly a small-business economy.

"Research has shown that small businesses create most of the nation’s net new jobs and account for almost half of our employer firms. Additionally, they produce more than half of the country’s non-farm private output. It goes without question that small firms make significant contributions to the U.S. economy.

"Today’s hearing will provide a forum to hear the Federal Reserve’s perspective on small businesses’ contributions to the economy. This comes at a time where we are seeing mounting challenges in the financial markets. These challenges, stemming mainly from the housing market, may spill over to other sectors of the economy. This would have broad ramifications, including an impact on small businesses.

"Despite this recent turmoil, small businesses remain a critical source of growth. The number of new businesses, measured as the number of firm births, has shown a net increase of over 20,000 since 2004. Just last week, the Labor Department reported nationwide job growth of 166,000 new jobs and a stable rate of unemployment. Small businesses were at the heart of these metrics, and whatever our economic future may hold, we can be assured that small businesses will be the vanguard for production, job creation, and output nationwide.

"Recently, however, we’ve witnessed increased volatility in the capital markets. These conditions have been driven primarily by weaknesses in the mortgage sector, but virtually every business sector has been affected by these events. Mortgage market instability has resulted in a tightening of lending standards that has spilled over into the small businesses credit markets. Indicators reflect that entrepreneurs are experiencing difficulty obtaining credit and more banks are reporting lower demand for small business loans.

"I am sure it comes as no surprise to members of this Committee that small businesses have more difficulty gaining access to affordable sources of credit compared to large businesses or other types of borrowers. Unfortunately, the most recent Federal Reserve's Report to the Congress on the Availability of Credit to Small Businesses reveals that this continues to be the case.

"Small businesses continue to rely disproportionately upon more expensive alternatives to traditional credit than larger businesses. Additionally, the percentage of small businesses that used credit cards increased nearly 10 percent since the last Federal Reserve survey. These results demonstrate the need for strong SBA programs aimed at providing small firms with access to affordable sources of financing.

"Yet, despite the obvious importance of small businesses, there remain few studies on their economic role. In addressing the need for solid information on small businesses, few studies have been more influential than the Federal Reserve’s Report to Congress on the Availability of Credit to Small Businesses. Much of the information contained in the report is gleaned from the Survey of Small Business Finances, which is itself the most comprehensive and up-to-date direct assessment of small-business finance.

"Over the past decade, this report has provided Congress with invaluable insight into the small-business credit markets. Now, more than ever, such insight is a key resource in developing balanced and effective economic policies. With the economic turmoil we have seen recently, it is paramount that we all work together to restore financial market stability and offset the effects of tighter credit conditions.

"These developments have created uncertainty over our economic future. Our history has proven that, as small businesses go, so goes the national economy. In this environment, it is more important than ever that this committee remain committed to ensuring that small businesses have access to the financial tools they need to grow and thrive."

View video highlights from today’s hearing.

Sources: Federal Reserve Board, U.S. House Small Business Committee

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Snowe and Kerry Introduce SBA Lender Oversight Legislation

U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine, right] and Chairman John F. Kerry [D-Mass.] today introduced the Small Business Lending Oversight and Program Performance Improvements Act of 2007 to measure the economic outcomes and improve oversight of the Small Business Administration’s signature 7[a] and 504 lending programs. The legislation will ensure that the SBA will assess the quality and performance of these loan programs, so that they benefit small businesses to the maximum degree possible.

“The 7[a] and 504 lending programs will not survive if we cannot prove to taxpayers that the money spent to guarantee small-business loans actually produces economic vitality, opportunity, and new jobs for our nation,” Sen. Snowe declared. “The only way to protect these vital programs and prove their effectiveness is through oversight and concrete measurements. The legislation we are introducing today is necessary for the SBA’s lending programs to expand and reach all of the small businesses that need access to capital.”

“Access to capital remains one of the top concerns for America’s entrepreneurs, so I am pleased to work with Sen. Snowe to ensure the government’s vital small-business lending programs remain strong,” said Sen. Kerry. “This bill will protect the integrity of the programs by establishing tangible performance measures, provide oversight transparency, and mitigate fraudulent lending. Ultimately, these improvements will get loans to the businesses that need them and provide us with details about the return on investment in these small firms.”

Based, in part, on recommendations made by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a July 2007 report, Small Business Administration: Additional Measures Needed to Assess 7[a] Loan Program’s Performance, the bill would:

* Require a report on borrowers’ economic performance. Currently, the SBA estimates job creation, but the GAO recommends further measurements to demonstrate the economic growth that companies create after securing 7[a] and 504 loans. This will help the SBA and Congress measure the return on investment;

* Increase the transparency of lenders’ portfolio quality. The SBA’s lender monitoring system does not explain how some measurements determine a lender’s risk rating or where there are problems, so that lenders can act proactively to mitigate defaults or losses. Codifying portfolio quality principals will enable all lenders to understand the standards to which they are held. This will help to protect the programs’ performance;

* Create a 7[a] and 504 portfolio default rate that can be compared directly to commercial lenders’ default rates. At this time, the SBA does not calculate a portfolio default rate that is directly comparable to commercial lenders’ default rates, which makes it hard for Congress and the public to accurately track the programs’ performance; and

* Require the SBA to follow cost containment and cost control practices to hold down lender oversight fees and enable banks to use their capital for lending.

In May, Kerry and Snowe passed their bipartisan legislation to expand the 7[a] and 504 loan programs out of committee. The Small Business Lending Reauthorization and Improvements Act [S. 1256] now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

Sources:, U.S. Government Accountability Office, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Cardin Chairs Small-Business Field Hearing on Improving Government Contracting

On Monday, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-Md.] chaired a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship to investigate federal government contracting problems and legislative remedies that will help small and minority-owned businesses compete for federal contracts.

“Small business is the engine that drives our economy and sustains our technological lead in the global marketplace,” said Cardin, a member of the committee. “The federal government has a responsibility and interest in fostering and promoting a business climate that supports small-business growth.”

For the past six years, the federal government has consistently failed to meet its small-business contracting goals. According to the Small Business Administration [SBA], in 2006, the federal government failed to meet any of its small-business contracting goals. The SBA report also showed that its goals for women and minorities fell below the 5% objective.

Another recurring theme of those testifying at the hearing was that many of the contracts that were intended for small businesses end up going to large corporations. In 2005, at least six of the top 30 small-business vendors doing business with the federal government were actually large corporations.

Representatives from the SBA, U.S. Department of Defense, General Services Administration, plus several small and minority business leaders in Maryland testified at the hearing. Sen. Cardin announced that he is working with members of the committee on legislation that will deal with barriers that make it difficult for small businesses competing for federal contracts.

“Small business plays a vital role in the federal contracting system,” Cardin noted. “It ensures competition and supplies the federal government with a constant supply of new entrants who bring new ideas and novel approaches for doing the job at hand and supplying services at a competitive rate.”

Source: U.S. Senate Committee for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

House Approves Bill to Improve Contracting Opportunities for Small Firms

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Small Business Contracting Program Improvements Act [H.R. 3867] by a margin of 334 to 80. Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez [D-N.Y.] gave the following opening statement:

"In recent years, the federal marketplace has seen phenomenal growth. However, while procurement opportunities are increasing, agencies are failing to meet their small-business-, women-, service-disabled veterans-, minority- and low-income contracting goals. This has not only cost small businesses billions in lost opportunities, but deprives the government of a valuable supplier.

"Our nation’s entrepreneurs play an important role in the procurement system, providing diversity, competition, and ensuring we get the best value for the taxpayer dollar. To help them get a start, there is an array of contracting programs offering technical assistance, purchasing flexibility, and targeted benefits.

"Unfortunately, due to legislative neglect, underfunding and mismanagement by several administrations, the programs have fallen far short of their full potential, leaving many small businesses outside of the federal marketplace. The Small Business Contracting Program Improvements Act, introduced by myself and Rep. Mary Fallin [R-Okla.], will change that by making important improvements to women, minority, HUBZone, and service-disabled veteran contracting programs.

"H.R. 3867 will immediately implement the Women’s Procurement Program that has languished in the current administration’s endless delays. It also updates the economic criteria for the 8[a] program, reflecting current fiscal realities. The last time Congress addressed the 8[a] program was almost 20 years ago, when a gallon of gas was 90 cents and the average cost of a home was less than $90,000. For too long, we have forced minority businesses to operate under antiquated financial standards that, in many cases, were simply setting them up to fail.

"Most importantly, this legislation will give our service-disabled veterans top priority when it comes to contracting opportunities. For those men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- many with life-altering injuries -- this bill will provide the tools to start a new endeavor and begin a new life. These changes will go a long way to addressing many of the program shortcomings that have frustrated our nation’s small-business owners.

"H.R. 3867 also fights fraud in the federal marketplace. Contracting opportunities are a privilege, not a right; the Small Business Contracting Improvements Act makes that clear. For the first time, we are imposing a business code of conduct on all participants, requiring the federal government to verify that individuals are who they claim, and empower small firms to police their own programs. This will restore integrity to these critical programs.

"Through modernizing programs and increasing accountability, H.R. 3867 brings SBA’s contracting programs into the 21st century. It is for this reason that this legislation has attracted remarkably broad support -- including the National Federation of Independent Business, Associated General Contractors, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Black Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, International Franchise Association, as well as the National Defense Industrial Association and the Aerospace Industries Association.

"This is a measured approach that balances the need to give program flexibility within the realities of current agency buying strategies. It is good for small business, good for the agencies and, most importantly, good for the taxpayers."

GoodBiz113's take: Thank you, Reps. Velázquez and Fallin, for leading House efforts to level the playing field for all small businesses and holding agencies accountable for how, exactly, federal procurement dollars are spent. This bipartisan legislation offers great promise to any of our nation's small businesses -- 26.8 million and counting -- that choose to play the government contracting game and spread the win-win-win wealth.

Source:, PBS [file photo], U.S. House Small Business Committee

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Monday, October 29, 2007

OPEN from American Express® and SCORE® Partner to Create Mentorship Program and Workshop Series to Help Enhance Small-Business Growth

This morning, OPEN from American Express® announced a national partnership with SCORE® "Counselors to America's Small Business" to create the "Small Business Speed Coaching Test Drive," a multi-city seminar tour designed to support small-business growth, and trigger success through complimentary educational and mentorship programs.

The "Small Business Speed Coaching Test Drive" series offers small-business owners exclusive, 30-minute, one-on-one evaluation sessions with experienced business coaches from SCORE, and interactive workshops focused on areas that directly affect small-business growth -- including strategic business planning, effective marketing and business finances.

Growth is an important issue facing small businesses today, with more than one-third [37%] of small-business owners reporting growth of their business as their company's single most important priority over the next six months, according to the OPEN from American Express Small Business Monitor, a semi-annual survey of business owners conducted in Fall 2007. In addition, 70% of business owners believe their marketing investments are effective in promoting growth, but less than half report seeing a direct uptick in sales from their marketing efforts.

"For small-business owners, growth requires innovative thinking and a customized approach," said Marcy Shinder, vice president of OPEN from American Express. "OPEN is proud to partner with SCORE to provide small-business owners across the country with individual counsel from seasoned experts with the ultimate goal of helping to identify new avenues of strategic growth."

"SCORE is bringing speed coaching to cities across America," says Ken Yancey, SCORE CEO. "Entrepreneurs can test drive our free services and discuss their greatest challenges with a seasoned business counselor.

"We are pleased to have the support of OPEN from American Express to host this national speed coaching tour, starting in Orlando -- one of our nation's most vibrant communities."

More than 250 small-business owners are expected to attend the seminar kick-off in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Walt Disney World® Swan Hotel. Complimentary parking will be provided. In 2008, additional seminars will take place in Phoenix, Ariz.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Chicago, Ill.

Featured topics and speakers of the series include:

* "Building a Business Plan for Growth" by Skip Honigstein, SCORE assistant district director. Honigstein held high-ranking leadership positions in the health-care services industry during his 28-year career, which focused on strategic and financial planning, operations, budgets and turnarounds.

* "Marketing Your Business" by Jerry Ross, Disney National Entrepreneur Center executive director. Ross is an entrepreneur and business executive, whose two decades of experience include leadership positions with major corporations and ownership of several successful companies in Central Florida.

* "Success Stories," a Q&A-style workshop with established business owners.

* "Following the Money" by Jennifer Wybraniec, OPEN from American Express

* Luncheon keynote speaker: Jacob Stuart, Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce president. During his 20 years as president, Stuart has guided the chamber to a prestigious five-star accreditation from the Accrediting Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has worked to provide lifelong learning opportunities for business and community leaders in Orlando.

In addition to meeting with a SCORE counselor at the event, attendees will learn about local SCORE chapter resources and can continue counseling sessions in the future.

More information about the workshop is online at

Registration is free and available on a first-come, first-serve basis at A maximum of two people per company may attend the event. Limit one coaching session per business. All attendees are eligible to participate in the coaching, workshops and luncheon.

Since 1964, SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" has helped more than 7.7 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners through counseling and business workshops. More than 10,500 volunteer business counselors in 389 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses.

For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE on the Web at

About OPEN from American Express
OPEN from American Express, one of GoodBiz113's premier ad partners, is dedicated exclusively to the success of small-business owners and their companies. OPEN supports business owners with unparalleled service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business.

Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings -- including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities, and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners.

For more information about OPEN[SM], visit; or, call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.

Source: OPEN from American Express

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Kerry Honored for Work on Green Business Solutions

Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, received an award this week from Small Business California [SB-Cal] for his efforts to harness the power of America’s small businesses to protect the environment and help curb climate change.

“I am honored to receive this award from Small Business California,” said Kerry. “More importantly, I want to thank them for all their work on behalf of California’s and America’s entrepreneurs.

“Small Business California’s leadership in advocating for energy solutions for small businesses and demonstrating how small businesses can help us win the fight against climate change, is changing the dialogue in this country. Although we’re far from the finish line, working together we’ll create a cleaner, greener America.”

Kerry is leading efforts to provide incentives for small businesses to develop green technologies, and provide resources to help them become more energy-efficient.

In March, Kerry chaired a committee hearing focusing on small-business solutions to combat global warming.

In June, working with Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], Kerry secured amendments to the CLEAN Energy Act [H.R. 6] that help small businesses increase their energy efficiency and hold the Bush administration accountable for failing to provide tools that will help small businesses reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Currently, the House and the Senate are negotiating differences in the energy bill.

Sen. Snowe, ranking member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez [D-N.Y.], chair of the House Committee on Small Business, were also recognized by SB-Cal.

Source:, Small Business California, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thousands of Women "Run Together" at Fourth Annual Nike Women's Marathon

This past weekend, the Nike Women’s Marathon [NWM] brought women together in San Francisco to participate in the world’s largest women’s marathon for the fourth straight year. Twenty thousand participants from 50 states and 18 countries descended on the Bay Area to run together for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society [LLS] – raising over $18.6 million. This year’s winner of the full marathon was Lauri Thompson, from Boise, Id. [3:01:26]. The half-marathon winner was Giovanna Mandy, from Truckee, Cal. [1:20:54].

“Nike has been committed to supporting women athletes throughout the last 35 years,” said Nancy Monsarrat, Nike’s Brand Director. “Bringing so many women together in the Nike Women’s Marathon for such a good cause is just one more way we can help fuel the power of sport in the lives of women.”

The weekend was about more than just raising money, however; it was about uniting women everywhere. In addition to the race, Nike [one of GoodBiz113's premier ad partners] offered a variety of activities throughout the weekend championing women’s athletics at the Nike Women’s Marathon Expotique. Understanding that there are two parts to a woman’s life – her lifestyle and her performance [athletic-based] -- the expotique [“Expo” + “Boutique”] was a celebration of everything female.

The expotique offered a range of activities -- e.g., a course preview talk by a Nike Club Run SF coach; race-day nutrition advice by a Luna Bar nutritionist; a sound booth where women shared their story on camera; and on-stage presentations by gold-medal Olympic soccer player Brandi Chastain and double-lung transplant runner Dottie Lessard-O’Connor, among others. Participants also enjoyed manicures and foot massages, and could try and purchase Nike Women’s Marathon and Nike+ products.

“Being a part of Nike’s effort to bring so many women together for a great cause is a wonderful experience,” said former Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson. “I was truly moved by the excitement and inspiration this year’s Nike Women’s Marathon and Expotique brought to the lives of the participants.”

Originally inspired by the 20th anniversary of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s historic gold medal win in the first all-women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics, the one-of-a-kind marathon has become one of the biggest philanthropic contributors among races. Through a partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its Team In Training® program, the marathon raised $18.6 million to benefit blood cancer research and patient services. This brings the four-year total to almost $60 million, making it Team In Training’s largest beneficiary race in its history.

The NWM also contained a number of unique on-course amenities -- including 19 energy points along the half-marathon course and 41 along the full course, designed to encourage and energize the 20,000 participants. DJ stations were placed along the route, playing the 100 most popular Nike+ PowerSongs as determined by NWM participants.

Both full [26.2 miles] and half- [13.1] marathon courses remained the same for 2007 as in previous years, incorporating famous San Francisco landmarks and scenery. The race started in Union Square and ran along the San Francisco Bay, with scenic views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, ushering runners down the Great Highway as they crossed the finish line. In addition, runners received a one-of-a-kind signature necklace designed by Tiffany & Co.® for participating.

This year, Nike also added a new twist to this already distinctive event – the opportunity for women to run together on the same day, for the same cause, anywhere in the U.S. by registering for the first-ever Nike+ Women’s Half Marathon, through Over 3,300 runners participated in the virtual marathon from their hometown and were still able to benefit the LLS.

About NIKE, Inc. [NYSE: NKE]
Based near Beaverton, Ore., is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; NIKE Bauer Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan, which designs, markets, and distributes fine dress and casual shoes and accessories; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel.

About the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®, headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., with 68 chapters in the United States and Canada, is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, and providing education and patient services. The society’s mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Since its founding in 1949, the society has invested more than $550 million in research, specifically targeting leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Last year alone, LLS made 5.1 million contacts with patients, caregivers and health-care professionals.

For more information about blood cancer, visit or call the society’s Information Resource Center [IRC], a call center staffed by master's level social workers, nurses and health educators who provide information, support and resources to patients and their families and caregivers. IRC information specialists are available at [800] 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Kerry Questions Bush Administration’s Decision to Withhold Fraud Findings; Seeks Explanation on Agency’s Decision to Heavily Redact IG's Report

Today, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.] called on the Bush administration to provide a detailed explanation as to why they chose to withhold from public scrutiny large portions of a recent Inspector General’s report on fraudulent loans made by Business Loan Center, LLC. The Small Business Administration [SBA] took the highly unusual step of requesting that the Inspector General redact large portions of its report -- including the majority of its recommendations, the agency’s responses to those recommendations, and the Inspector General’s comments on the agency’s response.

“The Bush administration’s failure to provide proper oversight of this lender, or take wise action when they detected problems, resulted in years of undetected fraud,” said Kerry, who serves as chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “We can’t get to the heart of the problem if the administration keeps hiding the facts from public view.

“The administration must explain their rationale for suppressing the Inspector General’s recommendations and their response. In order to combat future fraud and protect the integrity of this vital small-business loan program, the American people need access to all the relevant information.”

According to the Inspector General’s report, 19 individuals -- including a former executive vice president of the Business Loan Center [BLX] -- were charged with fraud for allegedly making more than $76 million in fraudulent loans to unqualified borrowers. After the SBA Inspector General conducted an audit of the agency’s oversight of BLX from 2001 to 2006, the SBA asserted that the Inspector General can’t fully disclose parts of the report because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] that protect trade secrets, deliberative process privilege, and banking examinations.

In his letter to the SBA Administrator Steven Preston, Sen. Kerry requested that the agency provide their “handbook,” or documents, that guide the agency on FOIA exemptions; fully explain the basis of each redaction; and give details about how the agency will respond to the report’s recommendations. In the near future, Kerry will also hold a hearing on this issue.


The full text of Sen Kerry's letter to SBA Administrator Steven Preston follows:

October 23, 2007


The Honorable Steven C. Preston
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, SW, Room 7000
Washington, DC 20416

Re: U.S. Small Business Administration’s Inspector General’s Report No. 7-28 on SBA’s Oversight of Business Loan Center, LLC

Dear Administrator Preston:

As you know, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General issued Report No. 7-28 on SBA’s Oversight of Business Loan Center, LLC [OIG’s report] on July 11, 2007. The report resulted from an audit performed due to an OIG investigation of allegations regarding fraudulent loans originated by Business Loan Center, LLC. The OIG report was posted last week on the OIG Web site so the public could have access to it, but was heavily redacted at the request of SBA. In response to the redacted report, I am writing to request the following documents:

* Any Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] handbook or guidance that SBA utilizes;

* A detailed explanation of the FOIA exemption and basis of the assertion of such exemption for each redaction made to the IG’s report.

I understand that SBA is asserting three exemptions — trade secrets, deliberative process privilege, and banking examination — to deny full public disclosure of the IG report. The OIG has stated that it does not necessarily agree with the extent of the redactions, and I am inclined to agree. For example, it is surprising to see that the first three of the OIG’s recommendations, and both the agency response to the OIG recommendations and the OIG’s comments on the response, were redacted. What is the justification for those redactions?

Other examples of questionable redactions include: large portions of the “Results in Brief” section; the titles of some sections in the full “Results” portion of the report; and the entire Chronology of Events [Appendix III]. Please provide the exemptions you are citing and detailed justifications for those and all other redactions in the report.

Furthermore, please explain what the SBA is doing to respond to the recommendations in the report to improve lender oversight in order to mitigate any further fraud.

I request that you provide these documents no later than October 30, 2007. Thank you for your timely attention to this matter.


John F. Kerry

GoodBiz113's take: Thank you, Sen. Kerry, for holding federal agencies' feet to the fire. Please keep doing so until all agencies and the Bush administration “get it”: When the 110th Congress gavelled into session in January, a “new sheriff” suddenly took the reins; i.e., one that will boldly speak truth to power in the interest of promoting transparency, integrity, accountability and fairness for all.

Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sens. Kerry, Snowe Demand Timeline for Implementation of Women’s Contracting Program

Yesterday, Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine, pictured], chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, demanded that the Bush administration provide a timeline for implementing a 2000 law which requires that women-owned small businesses receive 5% of federal government contracts. For seven years, the Bush administration has failed to create the Women’s Procurement Program, which mandates that women have equal access to federal contracts. In 2006, only 3.4% of federal contracts were awarded to female-owned businesses -- far short of the federal requirement, costing women-owned businesses an estimated $6 billion in potential revenue.

“When it comes to leveling the contracting playing field for women entrepreneurs, Congress threw the first pitch in 2000, but the Bush administration still refuses to step up to the plate,” Sen. Kerry declared. “After seven years of delays, I am tired of listening to excuses. Sen. Snowe and I want to see a timeline for implementing this program now, so that women small business owners aren’t denied another $6 billion in contracts.”

“The end of Fiscal Year 2007 has come and gone, and the Women’s Contracting Set-Aside Program has not been implemented as promised,” said Sen. Snowe. “Our nation’s women-owned small businesses have waited long enough, and I call on the SBA to set this program in motion as expeditiously as possible.”

The Bush administration testified at a July 2007 hearing that the Women’s Procurement Program would be implemented by Sept. 30, 2007. When it became apparent that the deadline would not be met, Sens. Kerry and Snowe pressed the administration in a hearing in September to provide a time frame for implementation. After seven years of delays, the administration again refused to commit to implementing the program within a certain period of time.


Following, is the full text of the letter sent to Small Business Administration [SBA] chief Steven C. Preston:

October 17, 2007

The Honorable Steven C. Preston
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20416

Dear Administrator Preston:

As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we would like to express our deep concerns about the long-delayed implementation of the Women’s Contracting Set-Aside Program. The Small Business Administration [SBA] recently released Fiscal Year 2006 small-business “goaling” results that continue to illustrate just how far the government is from reaching its women-owned and agencywide small-business goals. Women-owned small businesses only achieved 3.4% of the 5% statutory goal.

The women’s set-aside program enacted in December 2000 authorized, on a discretionary basis, contracting officers to “set aside” competition for federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. The program required SBA to conduct a study determining which industries would be characterized as underrepresented. The study was finally completed and made available to the public in April of this year. Regrettably, nearly seven years after enactment, women-owned small businesses are still waiting for the program to be implemented.

During a committee hearing on July 18th, the SBA pledged to implement the women set-aside program by the “end of this fiscal year.” Also, in a September 20th hearing on expanding federal contracting opportunities for women business owners, we strongly urged you to follow through on your earlier commitment to implement the program by the end of the fiscal year. The end of Fiscal Year 2007 has come and gone, and the program has not been implemented, as promised. We hope that you would agree that women-owned small businesses have waited long enough.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of your immediate attention to this vital issue. Please provide a response with a specific timeline for implementation of the women’s contracting set-aside program within 10 working days of receipt of this letter.


John F. Kerry
Olympia J. Snowe

Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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