Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Kerry Marks Katrina's Two-Year Anniversary

Today, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, made the following statement on the eve of the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:

“Two years after Hurricane Katrina, there is still a long way to go to get the Gulf Coast region back on its feet. Too many families and businesses are still struggling with too much red tape and an incompetent federal response that put our kids in toxic trailers and mismanaged billions of taxpayer dollars.

“Two years ago, Katrina pulled back a curtain and showed the world the true extent of poverty and inequality that still exists in our country. Remembering this tragedy with photo ops isn’t enough. We must finally force accountability and action from the federal government that will get our families and small businesses back on track.

“When Katrina hit, there was no effective safety net to help the individuals and small businesses that were devastated by the storm. And two years later, we still lack a plan that ensures that a Katrina-like response never happens again.

“I’ve worked with Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La.] and others on a bipartisan basis for two years to provide the government with critical tools to respond more quickly and effectively in the case of future disasters. We passed a disaster loan reform bill in the Senate, and we need to get this legislation on the President’s desk and signed into law.

“Many families and businesses owners have put themselves back on track, and the Gulf Coast region is making progress because of their own hard work and determination. It’s long past time that Washington gives the victims of Katrina a policy that equals their incredible perseverance and hope.”

For more information about the Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007 [S. 163], please visit: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-163.

Sources: GovTrack.us, Peace Corps Online [file photo], U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Apple's iWork '08[TM] Scores Rave Reviews

Since Apple[R] unveiled its amazing iWork '08[TM] two weeks ago, the productivity suite has already won fans. Just today, CNET editor Elsa Wenzel wrote that it "offers attractive and intuitive interfaces; solid new features for image editing, page layout and printing; applications integrate well with each other... Apple iWork '08 is a strong Mac productivity package and a pleasure to use." While she rated it 7.3 out of 10 ["very good"], two out of three users weighed in with 10 out of 10 ["perfect"].

iWork '08 is a significant upgrade to Apple's productivity software suite, featuring new versions of Pages[R] and Keynote[R] word processing and presentation applications, and introducing an innovative new spreadsheet application called "Numbers."

Numbers introduces the concept of intelligent tables on a flexible canvas -- a new approach that makes it easy to organize information, create calculations, analyze results, and make spreadsheets look as great as they work. Pages '08 now features distinct modes for streamlined word processing and flexible page layout, a new contextual format bar, and change tracking. Keynote '08 now includes text effects, transitions and themes that help users easily compose spectacular presentations, and Smart Builds with easy-to-set-up, A-to-B animations that make impressive animations easy for anyone to create.

"Pages and Keynote make it incredibly easy, and even fun, for anyone to create stylish documents and presentations very quickly," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Numbers rounds out the iWork suite, which is far more intuitive and easy to use than anything else out there."

Numbers '08
Numbers '08 is a new approach to spreadsheets, which allows people to organize their information, interact with their data and calculations, and make their spreadsheets easy to understand and print. With multiple intelligent tables on a flexible graphics canvas, users can rearrange information, resize and add columns -- all without breaking their spreadsheet.

Each table is a full-blown spreadsheet with automatic header and footer rows, easy sorting and filtering, and automatic cell naming, so creating, reading and maintaining formulas is easy. Common functions can be dragged to any cell, and a total of 150 functions are available, spanning a wide range of calculations -- including numeric, date and time, financial and statistical. Interactive checkboxes and sliders let users change cell values easily to explore different scenarios and see their results instantly.

Users can also create stunning 2D and 3D charts that are automatically updated as data changes, and then complement them with rich graphics, photos and text labels. Interactive printing makes it easy to fit a document on a single page or rearrange and resize tables and objects across multiple pages.

Pages '08
Pages '08 now has two distinct modes: streamlined word processing that makes it easy to create stunning documents in seconds; and flexible page layout, which gives users complete control over the position of objects on the page.

Pages includes 140 Apple-designed templates that let users easily create letters, reports, newsletters and brochures. A new contextual format bar gives users the exact set of tools they need at their fingertips whether they're editing text, creating a table or adjusting an image. Change tracking lets users collaborate with others on a document by displaying each person's edits in different colors, then accept or reject each proposed change.

Keynote '08
Keynote '08, Apple's industry-leading application for creating cinema-quality presentations, introduces new Smart Builds to make it easy for anyone to create spectacular animations by simply dropping graphics onto a slide. More advanced users can control every aspect of their animations with new A-to-B animations to define movement, rotation, scaling and opacity.

Keynote's new Instant Alpha feature makes it easy to remove unwanted backgrounds from photos and graphics, without needing a graphics department. Users can record their presentations along with a voice-over, then deliver them to audiences in person or over the Internet via podcasting or YouTube. The new Keynote also includes a collection of new text effects, transitions and themes.

iWork '08 can import Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and AppleWorks(R) word processing, presentation and spreadsheet files, and can export documents in Microsoft Office file formats or PDFs for easy sharing.

Pricing & Availability
iWork '08 is now available through the Apple Store[R], Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $79 [US]. A 30-day iWork '08 trial will be available on new hardware and with copies of iLife[R] '08 sold at retail. After 30 days, the trial becomes an iWork '08 player.

System Requirements
iWork '08 requires Mac OS[R] X version 10.4.10 or later, a Macintosh[R] computer with a 500 MHz or faster PowerPC G4, PowerPC G5 or Intel processor, 512MB of RAM [1GB recommended], 32MB of video RAM, QuickTime[R] 7.2 or later, and 1GB of available disk space. iLife '08 is recommended.

About Apple
GoodBiz113 ad partner Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II, and then reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications.

Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players, and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.

Sources: Apple Inc., CNET

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Monday, August 20, 2007

OPEN from American Express® Forges Strategic Card Relationships With Harris, BankAtlantic to Serve Small-Business Customers

OPEN from American Express® just announced that it's partnered with two large regional banks to offer its products to Harris and BankAtlantic small-business customers.

OPEN's relationship with Harris marks the first agent bank marketing agreement in the Chicago area. The exclusive agreement calls for the companies to jointly market small-business charge and credit cards that carry the Harris and American Express brands. Beginning in late September, OPEN will offer a suite of co-branded Cards through Harris' 230-plus branches in Chicago and Indiana.

"Harris is a respected and well-known financial institution with an impressive customer base, and we are pleased to serve as their new, exclusive small-business credit card issuer," said Raymond Joabar, Senior Vice President, OPEN from American Express. "This new relationship brings together the strength of OPEN and Harris to link small-business owners with the financial tools and resources they need to help them grow their businesses."

"We are delighted to join with American Express to add the industry-leading, small-business credit-card solution to our robust customer offering of products and services," said Peter McNitt, Vice Chairman and Head of Business Banking, Harris. "In addition to the benefits a business credit card offers in terms of simplifying accounting, I know our customers will appreciate the purchasing power, payment flexibility, cash rebates, travel rewards and savings program that only OPEN offers."

Through Harris, small-business owners are eligible to apply for the SimplyCash[SM] Business Card, which automatically offers up to 5% cash back annually on gas, office supplies, and wireless purchases, plus 1% on virtually all other purchases. In addition, they can apply for the Business Gold Rewards Card and Business Platinum Card®, which offers Cardmembers automatic enrollment in the Membership Rewards® program from American Express, to earn valuable rewards points toward travel, dining, entertainment and retail purchases.

All three Cards include access to the OPEN Savings® program, which gives Cardmembers automatic savings when using their Card for purchases with partners such as FedEx Kinkos®, Hertz®, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Delta Airlines®, JetBlue Airways® and more.

Under the agreement, OPEN from American Express will issue the new Cards and service the accounts. Harris and OPEN will market the Cards to small-business owners through the bank's branch network, on-line, direct mail, and inbound telemarketing channels.

OPEN is a leading issuer of small business credit and charge card products in the United States. With $42 billion in assets and $29 billion in deposits, Harris is the second-largest bank based on branches in the Chicago market. Additionally, Harris has affiliated wealth management offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Washington, and will also offer the cards in those locations.

In light of its new relationship with OPEN from American Express®, BankAtlantic will be the first financial institution in Florida to offer American Express® Business Cards. The agent bank agreement calls for the companies to jointly market small business charge and credit cards that carry the BankAtlantic and American Express brands.

Beginning this month, the companies will market two co-branded Cards to BankAtlantic's small business customers in nearly 100 stores in Florida. BankAtlantic stores are located in Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties, as well as the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets.

BankAtlantic's small-business customers will be eligible to apply for the Business Gold Rewards Card, as well as the SimplyCash[SM] Business Card. American Express will issue the new Cards and service the accounts. BankAtlantic and OPEN from American Express will market the Cards through BankAtlantic's in-store, direct mail, telemarketing and online channels. The agent bank alliance brings together OPEN from American Express with one of the largest financial institutions based in the state of Florida. BankAtlantic holds assets of more than $6 billion.

"Our partnership with BankAtlantic allows us to broaden our reach to additional Cardmembers and share our industry-leading products and capabilities with small business customers in Florida," said Joabar. "BankAtlantic is an excellent partner for OPEN, and our alliance will allow small business customers to enjoy best-in-class, co-branded card products from two trusted brands."

"We believe these products are an excellent complement to BankAtlantic's existing business product offerings," said Nona Wilgus, Senior Vice President from BankAtlantic. "BankAtlantic is excited to partner with American Express and provide these offerings to our customers."

About OPEN from American Express
OPEN is the American Express team dedicated exclusively to the success of small-business owners and their companies. The OPEN Team 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. To obtain more information about OPEN, visit www.OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a Card or loan.

GoodBiz113 ad partner American Express Company [www.americanexpress.com] is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

Source: American Express

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Sens. Kerry, Snowe Press for Fulfillment of Women’s Business Center Renewal Grants

Today, Senators John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine, pictured], Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, pressed the Small Business Administration [SBA] to comply with a law to make renewal grants available to established Women’s Business Centers around the country. Kerry and Snowe secured a provision in the emergency appropriations bill signed by President Bush, in May, to ensure that a steady stream of matching funds continues to be available to the most experienced centers.

“Unless the Administration acts quickly to get funding to these Women’s Business Centers, some of them may be forced to cut key services or possibly shut down entirely,” said Kerry. “This renewal grant program will ensure our successful centers, like the Center for Women and Enterprise in Boston, remain strong so they can focus on providing women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed when starting or expanding a business.”

Kerry created the Women's Business Center Sustainability Pilot Program in 1999. Since then, Congress has worked in a bipartisan way to ensure that centers with a proven track record of success continue to receive matching funding from the SBA. The renewal grant program builds on the pilot program.

“The purpose of these ongoing grants is to assure that women business owners, as the fastest growing segment of the U.S. business community, receive the technical assistance they need to expand their businesses and enter new markets without interruption,” explained Snowe. “The SBA needs to act quickly, so that successful centers throughout New England and the United States are not forced to close their doors because they lack the funding to continue providing women with the business counseling and technical assistance.”

Congress intended for the renewal grants program to be implemented immediately, to ensure centers would receive funding by October 1, 2007. Because that did not happen, the affected centers would wait another year for funding. So, in a letter to the SBA, Kerry and Snowe urged the agency to temporarily tailor its grant-making process, so that Women’s Business Centers could receive these critical grants by January 1, 2008. These centers help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs by providing technical and educational assistance.

Women-owned small businesses contribute nearly $2 trillion to our economy each year. In 2006, there were 10.4 million women-owned firms in the United States employing 12.8 million people, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.

Following, is the text of the letter from Senator Kerry and Senator Snowe to the SBA:

August 17, 2007

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

Dear Administrator Preston:

On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed into law the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007, which contained a provision creating a renewal grant program for the Small Business Administration’s [SBA] Women’s Business Center program. This provision enabled all Women’s Business Centers, including those which have graduated or are graduating in FY 2007 from the sustainability program, to apply for 3-year renewal grants. The legislation made the renewal grant program effective immediately, and Congress intended for new renewable grants to be disbursed to those eligible graduated and graduating centers by October 1, 2007.

The fact that these funds will not be disbursed to graduated or graduating centers by October 1, 2007, will hurt women business owners who need technical assistance. Therefore, to comply with the law and to mitigate any adverse consequences for women business owners seeking assistance, the SBA must temporarily tailor and abbreviate its up-coming grant making process so that the new renewable grants are disbursed to eligible centers by January 1, 2008. [In order to keep the grant cycle consistent, the first renewable grants should be scheduled to end on the last day of FY 2010.]

Women’s Business Centers are instrumental in supporting the growth and success of women-owned businesses, and it is very important that the Agency implement the renewal grant program as soon as possible. There are nearly 10.4 million women owned firms throughout the nation, employing more than 12.8 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales.

Despite their contribution to the economy and double-digit increases in women business ownership, women are still less likely than men to own businesses, and, if they do own businesses, their average size of business is smaller. Women’s Business Centers specifically target low-income women, and between 45 and 60 percent of economically disadvantaged individuals entering the program are no longer in poverty a year or two later.

In the past, Women’s Business Centers could only receive funding from the federal government for up to 10 years. This left established centers struggling for funds, from Massachusetts and Maine, to New Hampshire and New Mexico. Women’s Business Centers target low-income women and are therefore unable to charge more than nominal fees for their services. Consequently, ongoing federal funding is essential in order for these centers to continue their work with women entrepreneurs.

We urge the SBA to support the established centers and to implement the program in a way that would allow them to immediately apply for grants, so they can begin receiving grants as of January 1, 2008. Please let us know how the SBA plans to implement these changes, and how the Committee can be helpful to you and your staff in meeting these timelines.


John F. Kerry
Olympia J. Snowe

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

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Friday, August 17, 2007

SBA Releases First-Ever Procurement Scorecard; Seven of 24 Federal Agencies Met 2006 Contracting Goals

In an effort to increase the transparency and accountability in small-business contracting, the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] today released its first-ever Small Business Procurement Scorecard. The Scorecard will help agencies measure their achievements and progress in making contracting opportunities available to small businesses, improve the accuracy of contracting data regarding small businesses, and provide the public the opportunity to assess agencies’ performance in meeting these goals.

Seven federal agencies -- the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and SBA itself -- met their small-business contracting goals.

“SBA’s and the agencies’ commitment to small-business contracting results is unprecedented,” said Clay Johnson, Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget. “With clear, outcome-oriented goals, clear, realistically aggressive plans to achieve them, clearly defined accountability, and frequent tracking of performance, SBA and the agencies are saying they want to be held most publicly accountable for contracting with small business at desired levels.”

SBA’s Scorecard builds on a series of administration initiatives to improve small-business access to federal contracts. At the request of the White House’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy and SBA, federal agencies spent months reviewing 11 million contract actions from the last two years to cleanse the database of miscoded contracts.

On June 30, federal regulations were changed. Contracts awarded to small companies acquired by large corporations will no longer count towards federal agency small-business goals – even if the acquisition took place before the rule change.

“These changes – increased accuracy, transparency and accountability – provide a real window of opportunity for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Steven Preston [pictured]. “Almost $5 billion in misreported contracts have been cleaned out of the small-business database.

"To meet their goals in 2007 and beyond, federal agencies know they will have to place more new contracts with small businesses. SBA is also increasing its staff and technical assistance to help our federal partners meet their contracting needs.”

Small Business Goaling Report
After working with federal agencies to identify miscoding and anomalies in the contracting database, SBA released the annual Small Business Goaling Report for FY 2006, and revised the FY 2005 report.

The Goaling Report shows that $77.7 billion in federal contracts were awarded to small businesses in FY 2006 -- up $2.7 billion from the previous year. The revisions reduce the share of contracts awarded to small businesses in 2005; $4.6 billion from the previously reported 25.4 percent, to 23.4 percent. For 2006, the figure is 22.8 percent, just short of the small-business procurement goal established by law at 23 percent.

Administrator Preston cited the progress federal agencies have made towards meeting the five targeted sub-categories for small businesses procurement as an example of what can be accomplished when agencies track progress towards small-business goals. “While only the target for small disadvantaged business has been met so far,” he said, “SBA is encouraged by the real gains made in every category in 2006.”

In other categories, contracts to companies owned by service-disabled veterans increased by 50 percent, from $2 billion to $3 billion; contracts to women-owned businesses increased by a billion dollars; contracts to 8(a) enterprises rose by $700 million; and contracts to HUBZone firms were up $1 billion.

“We still have more to do to reach our targets,” Preston said, “but these are accomplishments that our federal partners can be proud of.”

View From the Senate
In light of SBA's new report, Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, expressed reserved praise.

“I’m glad to see Administrator Preston has taken some steps to fix the faulty and misleading small-business contracting numbers and hold agencies accountable, but these numbers should still be viewed with caution," Kerry declared in a formal statement. "Despite the federal contracting budget increasing by at least $20 billion last year, the percentage going to small businesses decreased, and the government still isn’t counting the whole pie because of special exemptions and exclusions.

“It’s critical that we continue to improve the reporting system and count all contracts in calculations, so we know the reality on the ground. It’s not about meeting the goals for the sake of meeting a number. Doing more business with small firms is good for our economic and national security, because it diversifies our supply base. I will continue to review and analyze these numbers, and will work with Administrator Preston to ensure that the entire government is truly meeting the small business goals.”

About the Scorecard
SBA rates 24 agencies green, yellow or red -- both on whether they reached their annual small-business contracting goals, and on their progress on efforts to make contracting opportunities available to small businesses. To achieve a green rating, a federal agency has to meet its overall small-business contracting goal, as well as the goals for at least three of four subcategories. For their current status, seven agencies were rated green, five yellow, and 12 were red. In the second category, under “progress,” 12 agencies were rated green, eight were yellow, and four were red.

Each federal agency has a different small-business contracting goal, determined annually in consultation with SBA. SBA ensures that the sum total of all of the goals exceeds the 23 percent target established by law. The Scorecard will be updated every six months and is publicly available on the SBA Web site.

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

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Democrats Call on Government to Increase Minority Advertising Contracts

Today, leading Senate and House Democrats urged federal agencies to take an active role in increasing the amount of federal advertising contracts awarded to disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses. Their action comes in response to a report by the Government Accountability Office [GAO], to be released today, concluding that federal agencies are falling short of the standards set by an executive order [E.O. 13170], issued in 2000, calling on the government to “aggressively” reach out to minority and underserved firms.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.], Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman John Kerry [D-Mass.], senior Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.], and Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick [D-Mich., pictured] today sent letters to the Departments of Defense and the Treasury expressing concern for their poor record of awarding contracts to minority and disadvantaged businesses. They also asked the agencies to outline specific steps they are taking to increase contracts with minority advertising firms.

The Defense Department awarded minority advertising firms only 1.8 percent of contract dollars and paid them, on average, nearly 84 percent less per contract than majority firms. The Treasury Department awarded minority advertising firms only 1.9 percent of contract dollars and paid them, on average, nearly 47 percent less per contract than majority firms.

The GAO also reviewed the records of three other agencies, which all spent more advertising dollars with minority firms: Health and Human Services Department [24.6 percent], Interior Department [6.4 percent], and NASA [88.9 percent].

“I am deeply concerned that the Departments of Defense and Treasury are denying minority advertising firms the opportunity to work with the federal government,” said Sen. Reid. “That they may even be discouraging hiring minority firms and paying them nearly 84 percent less than majority firms is even more disturbing. We will continue to aggressively monitor these and other federal agencies to make sure that our government meets our own standards of contracting with minority firms.”

“This report shines a spotlight on the federal government’s failure to make equal opportunity a reality, not just rhetoric,” Sen. Kerry noted. “The Defense and Treasury Departments are woefully behind the curve. Awarding less than two percent of advertising contract dollars to minority-owned and disadvantaged firms is unacceptable, and this report must be a wake-up call. My committee will keep up the pressure and stay on top of this until these agencies drastically improve their contracting practices.”

“The federal government is supposed to be doing everything it can to help minority businesses, yet the Departments of Defense and the Treasury are penny-pinching and falling far short of federal goals,” said Sen. Schumer. “These standards were established to foster minority business growth and to make sure that federal advertising is crafted by a diverse community of talented entrepreneurs. These departments need to do an about-face and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that minority-owned advertising businesses are getting the fair shake that they need and deserve.”

“Despite an executive order, federal agencies are not providing minority business owners -- who pay taxes, provide jobs, and help strengthen our economy -- with equal opportunities in the federal contracting process,” declared Congresswoman Kirkpatrick. “Failure to promote inclusion and fairness in contracting is not only an egregious disservice to America’s families, but it is also a mockery of the promise upon which our country was founded.

“We must continue to advocate for the underserved and underrepresented, and encourage our government to lead by example. Diversity is America’s strength. By expanding access, we improve our ability to compete in the global marketplace, ensure that all people have the chance to achieve their potential, and enhance efforts to build a united America.”

The report, which was requested by Sens. Reid, Kerry and Schumer, will be released by GAO sometime today.

Sources: Federal Register, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Recycline Makes It to Second Round of Forbes.com's $100,000 Boost Your Business Contest; Vote Now!

GoodBiz113 profilee Recycline Inc. ["Recycline-Stonyfield Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other"] has just made it to the second round of Forbes.com's Boost Your Business Contest. The grand prize: $100,000.

"Recycline has been given a great opportunity to reach more people with our environment-friendly products," said Eric Hudson, Recycline's CEO and founder. "We've been named one of 20 semifinalists [out of 1,000]... $100,000 would go a long way to helping us spread our message -- using Earth's resources more efficiently and giving consumers better choices for the everyday products we all use."

Recycline is the innovative company that transforms used plastic from Stonyfield Farm yogurt cartons and other sources into personal-care products and tableware. If the company wins Forbes.com's contest, their prize will go towards marketing their goods to new consumers; i.e., those who are just beginning to "go green" and buy eco-conscious goods.

"We currently generate about $2 million in annual revenues, with a net profit of approximately 5%," Hudson noted. "We estimate that a $100,000 investment will likely generate a $500,000 increase in sales in 2008, and sustained profitability. This would result from a combination of increased retail sales in mainstream channels and an increase in online sales through Recycline’s new Web site."

You can learn about Recycline's Preserve® line of products and its far-reaching practices and educational campaigns at http://www.recycline.com/. You can cast your vote for the recycled-plastics manufacturing pioneer here: http://www.forbes.com/byb/byb07_recycline.html. Second-round voting ends Aug. 31, 2007.

NOTE: As a thank-you for taking a minute to vote for Recycline, the company is offering 15% off all Preserve products during the month of August at its online store. Shop now: http://www.recycline.com/catalog.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cardmembers Vote 'Children's Safe Drinking Water' Project Idea the Winner of American Express' Members Project

GoodBiz113 ad partner American Express just announced that, after receiving the most Cardmember votes, "Children's Safe Drinking Water" is the winning project idea for The Members Project. American Express is awarding the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the organization selected to fulfill the idea, $2 million dollars, which will be used to provide millions of children in the developing world with safe drinking water.

The Members Project [www.membersproject.com] launched on May 15 and brought thousands of American Express(R) Cardmembers together to submit, discuss, rate and, ultimately, vote on the one project idea they wanted American Express to bring to life. American Express contributed $1 toward the winning idea for every Cardmember that registered, with a minimum commitment of $1 million and up to $5 million in funding.

Throughout The Members Project initiative, 186,508 Cardmembers registered -- with more than 7,000 project ideas submitted and 162,087 votes cast. Additionally, there were over 1.5 million unique visitors to the website.

Therefore, American Express decided to double its minimum commitment of $1 million and award the winning project idea $2 million to help make a larger impact.

In addition, American Express announced a Recognition Award of $100,000 each to the organizations paired with the remaining four project ideas, and has designated the award money be used in the spirit of the Cardmember's project idea.

"Through The Members Project, we brought together our community of Cardmembers in a new, interactive way that tapped into ideas and causes they are most passionate about," said Jud Linville, President and CEO, Consumer Services at American Express. "Our Cardmembers truly rallied around project ideas, encouraging Cardmembers across the country to get involved. Now, they can feel great that a difference will be made, thanks to their votes and efforts."

The winning idea, "Children's Safe Drinking Water" paired with UNICEF, was submitted by American Express(R) Cardmember Gregory Allgood of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Other Four Finalists
* "Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn. -- This program aims to create a website where public school teachers can request specific educational projects for their classrooms, and individuals can log on to choose which projects to fund, in turn, providing educational tools for students from low-income families nationwide." Fulfilling organization: DonorsChoose.org.

* "Plant a Million Trees: Global Reforestation -- From forest fires to rainforest destruction, to natural water disasters to overdevelopment, trees are disappearing in vast numbers all over the globe. This plan suggests planting millions of trees where they are needed most." Fulfilling organization: American Forests.

* "Wind and Solar for Residential -- This project plans to create a small power-generating unit that is small and powerful enough to be placed into every residential home. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a community of homes to help generate power for the power companies to use." Fulfilling organization: American Solar Energy Society.

* "Restore our U.S. National Parks -- The United States' National Parks and Historic Sites are in disrepair, and funding is needed to repair and refurbish. This project aims to provide funding to the landmarks that define our nation." Fulfilling organization: National Park Foundation.

The Members Project, which is a part of American Express' new brand campaign, "Are You a Cardmember?[SM]," highlights the value of being part of the American Express Cardmember community.

American Express, Membership and Giving Back
American Express Company [http://www.americanexpress.com/] is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850. American Express has been synonymous with “Membership” since it introduced “Member Since” dates on its Cards in 1964, and has continued to develop a sense of membership through the special benefits and exceptional services offered to Cardmembers.

The Members Project -- which is a part of American Express’s new brand campaign, “Are You a Cardmember?[SM]” -- highlights the value of being part of the American Express Cardmember community. Giving back is a core value of the Company, and being a “good citizen” is a hallmark of the brand.

Over the years, American Express has supported causes that are important to Cardmembers, merchant partners and the general public -- from reopening the Statue of Liberty after 9/11, to fighting hunger and preserving historic sites around the world. Through these programs, including The Members Project, American Express is providing an outlet for consumers’ desire to “do good.”

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Life is good® Adds Inspiring Book to Its Growing Catalog; Profits Support Kids Foundation

Attention, shoppers! GoodBiz113 profilee Life is good® ["Life is good® Festivals Unite Communities, Help Kids Face Unfair Challenges"] has just added a new product to its ever-growing catalog of high-quality merchandise: a book. Yep, while you're relaxing in your easy chair -- clad in your favorite LIG T-shirt, lounge pants and slippers, and sipping from your trusty LIG mug -- you can enjoy timeless pearls of wit and wisdom from Jake and Rocket, LIG's ubiquitous characters.

This hardcover gift book, measuring a handy 7 inches by 7 inches, is packed with 132 full-color pages, and priced at just $20. The best part? LIG will donate 100% of its profit from the sale of this book to the Life is good Kids Foundation, established to help children facing unfair challenges.

Know someone who's heading off to college? Want the perfect host/hostess gift for those generous folks who welcomed your family to their cabin this summer? Stocking up holiday gifts already? Surf on over to LIG's online store: http://www.lifeisgood.com/

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House Passes Energy Efficiency Package; Small Business Committee Bill Included to Support Innovations in the Energy Sector

Yesterday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act, legislation that provides incentives for the production of clean energy, aids our nation’s farmers in producing the next generation of America’s fuel, and supports energy efficient technology. It also creates an environment for creating jobs, stimulating the economy and helping small businesses.

The historic legislation includes a number of measures that had passed through the House Small Business Committee in May to help entrepreneurs cope with rising energy costs, become more resourceful in their usage, and continue developing new technologies.

“This is a major step forward for improving our environment and helping this nation’s small businesses to lead the way in that charge,” said Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez [D-N.Y.]. “This legislation includes critical provisions that will empower entrepreneurs to create a more eco-friendly environment, and help achieve the overall goals of H.R. 3221 to spur investment in biofuels, new energy technologies, innovation and job creation.”

Small businesses have been particularly affected by the rising cost of fuel, as any additional expense is more difficult for them to absorb than their corporate counterparts. According to a survey conducted by the National Small Business Association [NSBA], over 60 percent of small businesses use vehicles on a daily basis, and a majority of those who use vehicles travel more than 50 miles a day. This has forced many entrepreneurs to consider scaling back their daily operations and reducing their staff in an effort to save money.

“The rising cost of energy has hit small businesses hard,” Chairwoman Velázquez noted. “This bill focuses not only on supply, but it also focuses on usage. These two factors are key in helping small businesses to manage increasing energy prices, and in becoming more resourceful.”

A critical piece of the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security and Consumer Protection Act, is H.R. 2389, the Small Energy Efficient Business Act [SEEBA], introduced by Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Heath Shuler [D-N.C., pictured above], and approved by the full House Small Business Committee this spring. The bill provides loans, education and investment to small firms to help them become more energy independent, thereby helping them take advantage of their role as leaders in the search for solutions.

H.R. 2389 also promotes good energy practices by modifying existing Small Business Administration [SBA] programs to provide more flexible loan terms to small firms that are developing or utilizing new technologies.

SEEBA stimulates investment in the production of alternative sources and product development by expanding the Small Business Investment Companies [SBICs]. The SBA will be required to develop a strategy to educate small firms about being resourceful, and establishes an educational program for the Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs]. Additionally, the Renewable Fuel Capital Investment Program [RFCIP] will be created, which will help small firms develop renewable energy sources. These measures will play a vital role in the reaching the goals of H.R. 3221.

“Small businesses are leaders in developing new technologies to spur efficiency, and under H.R. 3221, entrepreneurs will be able to continue on that path,” said Chairwoman Velázquez. “The Small Energy Efficiency Business Act will give the support needed to foster these types of advances, while also encouraging innovation and job creation. I am proud that this legislation is a vital component of the monumental energy package that the House has passed today.”

Sources: Congressional Budget Office, GovTrack.us, U.S. House Small Business Committee, WashingtonWatch.com

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bipartisan Group of Senators Praise Passage of Disaster Reform Bill

Senators John Kerry [D-Mass.], Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], Mary Landrieu [D-La.], David Vitter [R-La.], and Bill Nelson [D-Fl., pictured] praised the Senate’s unanimous passage last night of a critical disaster loan bill that will improve assistance to business owners and homeowners after a disaster. The legislation’s swift movement comes as the two-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma approaches.

“We’ve passed this critical disaster aid legislation, recognizing that there are Gulf Coast residents who are still seeking to recover nearly two years later," said Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“We made these changes to help future disaster victims – whether from floods or fire in my home state of Massachusetts, or the Katrina disasters of tomorrow," Kerry added. "I thank all of my colleagues for working together in a bipartisan way to address concerns and move this important bill.”

“This legislation provides vital resources to the SBA to enable it to respond effectively and swiftly to future disasters,” said Sen. Snowe. “The SBA's slow response to Hurricane Katrina makes plain the need for the SBA to be provided with additional disaster-response tools. A product of compromise, this bill is forward-looking, and I urge Congress to move ahead quickly with final passage.”

“One of the important lessons of Katrina and Rita is that we need the Small Business Administration [SBA] to be nimble, effective and timely in disbursing loans following a disaster," Sen. Landrieu explained. "The Senate’s passage of this bipartisan disaster loan bill is a huge step forward for the SBA’s disaster-recovery reform. It will greatly improve the loan process for business owners and homeowners, ensuring that essential recovery dollars quickly move into the hands of disaster victims."

Vitter agreed. “Small businesses are a vital part of Louisiana’s economy, and after the hurricanes of 2005, small businesses suffered greatly,” he noted. “This legislation will help make SBA better prepared for the next disaster. It addresses some of the problems that we had with SBA after those hurricanes, and will improve how quickly disaster victims receive their loans.”

“We're trying to get the government to speed up assistance to disaster victims,” said Sen. Nelson, whose home state of Florida is in the midst of the 2007 hurricane season. “We can't afford to have another mess like the one we experienced after Hurricane Katrina.”

The Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act of 2007 [S. 163]:

* Establishes a Private Disaster Loan program to be used in the aftermath of catastrophic disasters, allowing banks to make loans directly to victims with an 85 percent government guarantee;

* Creates a new, expedited disaster-assistance business loan program to provide short-term relief to businesses damaged or destroyed in catastrophic disasters while they await other federal assistance or insurance payments;

* Creates a new presidential declaration of “Catastrophic National Disaster,” which will allow the SBA to issue nationwide economic-injury disaster loans to small businesses affected by a large-scale disaster;

* Provides key tools for processing disaster loan applications more quickly -- such as working with qualified private contractors -- to process the loans, and requiring the SBA to report to Congress on how the application process can be improved; and

* Increases the maximum size of a disaster loan from $1.5 million to $2 million, and allows non-profit groups to be eligible for disaster loans.

Sources: Library of Congress, National Hurricane Center, Peace Corps Online [photo], U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

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