Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"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: GovTrack.us, 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
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 www.score.org/OPEN_events.html.
Registration is free and available on a first-come, first-serve basis at www.bmmreg.com/amex. 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 http://www.score.org/.
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 OPEN.com; 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
“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: GovTrack.us, Small Business California, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
“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 Nikeplus.com. 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 http://www.lls.org/ 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  955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
Tune your run. Get connected to your running experience with Nike + iPod!
Kerry Questions Bush Administration’s Decision to Withhold Fraud Findings; Seeks Explanation on Agency’s Decision to Heavily Redact IG's Report
“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
VIA FACSIMILE & FIRST-CLASS MAIL
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
“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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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
When left to our own devices, notes Senjem, human beings are creative and we generally prefer to run our own lives. "Entrepreneurial Thinking is extraordinarily ordinary," she says. "It’s a basic human behavior. Everyone can do this when you know the principles that govern it."
Senjem’s holistic approach and unwavering enthusiasm has established her as a leader in the growing entrepreneurial movement. She utilizes an improvisational discipline and other experiential methods. Her philosophy is based on the notion that being attuned to your physical well-being is a powerful tool for unleashing intuition, and shows how intuition plays a key role in making strong business decisions.
“Rosemary brings a sense of creativity and fun. To me, that’s really important to business. Why be chained to a desk when I could be dancing around at it?” -- Liz de Nesnera, founder of caregiverscommunity.com and multilingual voice-over talent, hireliz.com, N.J.
WHERE: Sateren Music Hall, Foss Center, Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minn.
TICKETS: $20; discounts for students and groups. Call 612-226-5101 for a discount code; or, visit http://www.joyinthejungle.com/.
About Rosemary Senjem
Rosemary Senjem is the founder of Hand Spun Digital, Inc. [http://www.handspundigital.com/] and teaches Intuitive Plan workshops [http://www.intuitiveplan.com/]. Senjem earned a B.A. in Human Development & Social Relations at Earlham College. She has run her own barbershop, education consulting business and Web design company. She is currently writing a book about the principles of Entrepreneurial Thinking.
“This survey offers the only comprehensive, regularly collected information about our country’s businesses and provides the foundation for good policy decisions affecting America’s 27 million small-business owners,” said Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Small businesses drive our economy forward. Without accurate data, Washington risks leaving behind our veteran, minority and women entrepreneurs, who represent the largest sectors of growth in our economy.”
The Survey of Business Owners is part of the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years. The survey describes the characteristics of U.S. businesses by ownership category, geographic area, industry sector, and by size of firm [employment and receipts]. Other survey data identify family- and home-based businesses, types of customers and workers, sources and purposes of financing, plus owner's age, education level, veteran status, and primary function[s] in the business.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Pumpkin Festivals Across America
Thanks to LIG partners at Newland Communities, the Life is good Pumpkin Festival will be celebrated in eight different states from coast to coast this year. Eleven festivals will take place this Saturday, Oct. 20. Bring your pumpkin and best smile to the festival nearest you. Visit the Newland Communities festival website for information on their efforts.
Two more Life is good Pumpkin Festivals will take place the following weekend -- on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28. Those festivals will be held in Dallas, Tex., and in Hudson, Ohio. Click on the links below for information on all of these fantastic events:
Goodyear, AZ -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Rocklin, CA -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
San Diego, CA -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Apollo Beach, FL -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Tampa, FL -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Flowery Branch, GA -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Clarksburg, MD -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Hudson, OH -- www.firstandmainhudson.com/Events/index.aspx
Dallas, TX -- http://www.dallaspumpkinfestival.com/
Humble, TX -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Katy, TX -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Pflugerville, TX -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Ladysmith, VA -- http://www.newlandpumpkinfestival.com/
Spotlight on HomeAid
HomeAid, a leading national nonprofit provider of housing for today's homeless, is the major beneficiary of Life is good Pumpkin Festivals hosted by Newland Communities this year. HomeAid builds and renovates multi-unit homes for America's temporarily homeless while they rebuild their lives. The organization has provided housing for more than 75,000 individuals around the country.
Festival funds will be provided to HomeAid projects targeting children and families with children. For more information on HomeAid, click here.
Buy a Festival Tee!
Can't make it to a Life is good Pumpkin Festival this year? Add a 2007 Pumpkin Festival Tee to your wardrobe and support kids in need!
Per usual, Life is good will donate 100% of the profit from fundraiser T-shirt sales to children's charities. Short- and long-sleeve Pumpkin Festival Tees -- in fresh, new colors and sizes for the whole family -- can be purchased here.
Photo: The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University [CDIA]
Expedia.com: Last-Minute Travel Deals!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Some sites needing public support include:
The Chicagoland community call-to-action is designed to help preserve historic places that reflect the region's rich and diverse cultural heritage while building community and national pride, spurring economic development, and saving local history. Folks in Chicagoland, cast your votes here!
Apply for the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express® and get a free domestic round-trip airline ticket
Monday, October 08, 2007
Bush Vetoes Bipartisan SCHIP Bill; 72% of Americans Favor Increased Children's Health Insurance Funding
Why should GoodBiz113 readers care? First off, SCHIP is simply good, solid, humane legislation. Secondly, because Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.] and Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], both of whom devotedly serve on the Committee for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, had attached an amendment to the legislation to enroll more children in the program -- i.e., children of small-business owners, their employeees, self-employed people, and entrepreneurs.
Bush's proposal of a mere $5 billion funding increase would not have even kept pace with inflation and spiraling medical costs. Further, for a president whose generous tax cuts for the wealthy, and whose administration has erased a budget surplus, crying for frugality now seems unconscionably incongruent.
Recent polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of people -- 72%, according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey -- favor the proposed SCHIP funding measure. Fully 86% of the American people support reauthorizing SCHIP.
More specifically, as GoodBiz113 reported last week ["OPEN: Small-Business Owners Hold the Line on Hiring, Remain Focused on Growth in Uncertain Economy"], nearly early eight in 10 [79%] small businesses would consider proposed health-care policy solutions as a way to make health care accessible. More than half support a plan that would "ensure every child in the U.S. has health insurance" [58%], or "provide tax credits to low-income workers to help pay for health care" [54%].
Still, the president stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the will of Americans on this issue -- just as he does on the war in Iraq, which he contends is key to our nation's security. He fails to recognize that security of the nation's children also is in jeopardy when it comes to lack of health care.
"If government-supported health care is good enough for President Bush, why isn’t it good enough for America’s children?" poses senior Sen. Ted Kennedy [D-Mass., pictured above], who introduced SCHIP legislation 10 years ago. "We can be a voice for the nation's children -- a voice that every member of Congress needs to hear. If government-supported health care is good enough for Congress, it’s good enough for America’s children."
Exercise Your Voice
On Oct. 18, Congress will vote on overriding Bush's veto. If you'd like to voice your views to your elected officials before then, please do so at your earliest possible opportunity.
You can find your U.S. Senators here: http://www.senate.gov/
You can locate your U.S. House representative via this link: http://www.house.gov/
Sources: ABC News, OPEN from American Express, Washington Post
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Thursday, October 04, 2007
American Express Announces Thank You Gift Card and Increases Web Purchasing Power for Corporate Giving
According to a 2007 Incentive Magazine survey, 82% of businesses give gift cards and gift certificates. Of those, 74% gave gift cards and certificates for employee recognition, 46% for sales incentives, and 17% for consumer promotions. The survey also revealed that 83% of businesses find that giving gift cards and certificates is equally effective or more effective than giving cash -- up from 69% in 2006.
As a premium gifting product, the new Thank You Gift Card has an elegant gold design and provides recipients the freedom to create their own memorable experiences. It is available in various denominations from $25 to $100, and comes with special offers from participating retailers and merchants nationwide.
"Gift Cards have become a preferred incentive and holiday gift option among corporate buyers, due to their ease of purchase, use and universality," said Stefan Happ, vice president and general manager, American Express Gift Cards.
"This growing demand has led American Express to help simplify companies' gifting processes by offering bulk purchasing of American Express Gift Cards and adding relevant business-themed products like the Dining and Thank You Gift Card to our portfolio," Happ noted. "These service and product enhancements will enable companies to give their employees and customers a premium gift for any occasion throughout the entire year."
American Express enhanced its corporate Gift Card services in 2006 to help corporations and small businesses increase the effectiveness of their gifting programs. The improvements simplified bulk orders and increased the number of American Express Gift Cards that can be purchased by one company through the American Express Web site.
Companies interested in buying American Express Gift Cards in bulk for reward, incentive and promotional programs can visit the American Express "Gift Cards for Business" website, which gives companies a convenient way to buy a large number of American Express Gift Cards -- increased this year to as much as $35,000 or 1,400 cards, up from $15,000 or 600 cards last year.
Companies interested in purchasing American Express Gift Cards in excess of these thresholds can do so by calling American Express at 877-297-8242. American Express offers the American Express Business Gift Card, Gift Card Especially for Dining, and Thank You Gift Card to its corporate clients.
In addition to the American Express Gift Card, American Express offers themed Gift Cards for consumers -- including Gift Cards Especially for Kids, Teens, Birthdays, Dining, Movie Lovers, the Bride and Groom, and Thank You.
The American Express Gift Card lets the recipient choose from millions of things and experiences, making it a popular gift choice. Unlike store gift cards, which can be redeemed at one retailer's locations, the American Express Gift Card can be used at millions of places in the U.S. that accept American Express. The Gift Card is available in denominations ranging from $25 to $500 and can be refunded if lost or stolen.*
American Express Gift Cards come with special offers at best-of-brand retailers, restaurants and merchants. Click here for more information.
About American Express
American Express is a leader in prepaid products. In addition to the 116-year old American Express Travelers Cheque -- the pre-eminent brand welcomed worldwide -- the Company issues other prepaid products including Cheques for Two, Gift Cards, Gift Cheques, and a range of corporate incentive prepaid products through American Express Incentive Services, a joint venture with Maritz Inc.
American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking.
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SOURCE: American Express
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Kerry is the chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Levin chairs the Committee on Armed Services. The SBIR program is set to expire on September 30, 2008.
“The SBIR program is critical to our national security and our country’s competitiveness in a global economy,” said Kerry. “Technologies developed through the program are helping to keep our troops safe on the battleground, improving our health care, and expanding our ability to combat global warming.
“We need to keep this program strong, avoid any contracting delays or shut-downs, and provide more resources to rapidly transition the most promising technologies into weapons systems or on the market quickly. I thank Sen. Levin and all the members of the Armed Services Committee for their leadership on these amendments and their support of this program.”
“The SBIR program creates jobs, increases our capacity for technological innovation and boosts our international competitiveness,” explained Levin, who also serves on Kerry's committee. “The program has demonstrated that federal agencies can work with small businesses to develop and commercialize technologies in a cost-effective way.”
The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will be working on legislation to reauthorize the SBIR program next year. Kerry and Levin worked to include this extension as part of the defense bill to prevent a shut-down or delay of this important research and development program when it expires next year. Eight years ago, the program shut down because the program was not renewed in a timely way. This temporary extension will provide time that lawmakers need to develop bipartisan legislation that will be signed into law.
The Senate also passed an amendment to build upon a pilot program that Sens. Kerry and Olympia Snowe [R-Maine] created in 2005 to help firms transition their projects into commercialized products. The amendment, sponsored by Kerry and Snowe, and supported by Levin, extends the pilot program through 2012 to help small firms bring their products and innovations into the marketplace.
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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Health care is cited by one in five small-business owners [21%] as the issue that will most sway their decision on the next president of the United States, followed closely by homeland security [cited by 19%].
Despite a lack of robust hiring plans, growth remains a top priority for entrepreneurs. More than one-third [37%] of small-business owners report growing their business as their company's single most important priority over the next six months -- on par with 35% last fall. In fact, more than half [57%] of business owners are willing to take on risk in order to grow their business -- unchanged from 2006.
"Small-business owners are on the front lines -- dealing with issues like health care, the housing market and interest rates -- so they know firsthand where we are as a country," said Susan Sobbott, president of OPEN from American Express. "It says a lot about the attitude of small-business owners that they remain optimistic in the face of this difficult environment, as evidenced by their plans for growth and investment."
Entrepreneurs Adjust to Energy Prices, but Economy and Rising Costs Present a Challenge
According to the survey, business owners are adjusting to higher energy and gas costs. A much fewer number report having lost sales as a result of higher energy costs [17%] -- down sharply from fall 2006 [31%]. Fewer entrepreneurs also report having to pay rising costs for the materials and products they need as a result of higher costs [65% -- down from 71% in fall 2006]. One-third of businesses in the South [31%] report rising gas and energy costs as having little impact on their business.
More business owners believe the downturn in the housing market and rising interest rates have negatively impacted their business. The survey found a 5% rise in the number of business owners who believe that the downturn in the housing market has had a negative affect on their business, compared to this spring. Half of all business owners believe rising interest rates have negatively impacted their business.
Rising costs and uncertain economic conditions [each 20%] are the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face in growing their business. Finding the right staff [19%] and being too busy satisfying existing customers [17%] present additional challenges.
Entrepreneurs are not letting the economy dictate their plans for growth. Over the next six months, nearly half [48%] of business owners expect their business to grow, regardless of the economy. Nearly three out of 10 [28%] of business owners report the economy as the greatest determinant in growing their business.
Business Owners Plan to Invest in Technology and Marketing
Entrepreneurs plan to make capital investments as an avenue to business growth. The percentage of small-business owners planning to make capital investments over the next six months remains on par with the previous fall [59% vs. 56%].
Business owners will invest most heavily in the area of technology [45%]. More are planning to make their next purchase in mid-priced equipment -- e.g., desktops, laptops and printers -- than a year ago [53% vs. 47%]. Nearly one in five (19%) plans on making more substantial investments in major technology infrastructure -- such as software, servers or telephone systems. Slightly fewer [17%] plan to invest in modestly priced items, such as PDAs or smart phones.
Besides technology, other investment areas include office equipment [21%], real estate [15%], manufacturing/production equipment [14%] and office furnishings [13%].
In addition to capital investments, business owners plan to invest marketing dollars as a way to grow. Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of online marketing techniques -- with the company website being the most-utilized online marketing method [55%].
Nearly seven in 10 [69%] business owners believe their marketing dollars are well-spent. Almost half [46%] of business owners report seeing a direct uptick in sales when spending money on marketing. Male business owners are more likely to agree that marketing dollars have a direct positive impact on sales [47% vs. 32% female owners].
Those with Hiring Plans Center on Growth; Males Most Likely to Hire to Increase Business
Although hiring plans over the next six months are near record lows, among those businesses that plan to hire, three-quarters [75%] say they need to hire to handle their growing business. Two-thirds [65%] will hire to help increase business volume. This number is greater among male business owners, as seven out of 10 plan to hire for this reason [71% vs. 46% of female owners].
Two out of five [43%] will hire because they have a new business venture. One in three say they will hire because they have finally found the right candidate for the position [33%], or need seasonal help [28%].
Business owners do not believe the increase in minimum wage is offset by small-business tax breaks included in the law. Four in 10 business owners [44%] disagree that the increase in minimum wage passed by Congress is offset by small-business tax breaks included in the law. This number was even higher among male business owners [59% vs. 35% of female owners].
Health Care Remains Top of Mind
The rising costs of doing business have not overridden the importance of employee well-being. Seven out of 10 bosses [69%] agree it is important to offer health-care coverage to their employees. The number of businesses offering health-care benefits to employees remains unchanged from last fall [71%].
Business owners are looking for ways to make health-care coverage more accessible to their employees. Nearly eight in 10 [79%] small businesses would consider proposed health-care policy solutions as a way to make health care accessible.
About two out of three [65%] support the solution to "create purchasing cooperatives for small businesses to make heath insurance affordable." More than half support a plan that would "ensure every child in the U.S. has health insurance" [58%], or "provide tax credits to low-income workers to help pay for health care" [54%].
Fewer than half would support the proposed solution of a "universal health-care system" [42%], or an "additional tax on tobacco and alcohol" to fund health care [38%]. Three-quarters [75%] of business owners believe health-care coverage will be a problem for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Cash Flow Issues Keep Entrepreneurs Up At Night
Business issues are a cause for entrepreneurs' insomnia. One in four [26%] entrepreneurs cited cash-flow issues as what "keeps them up at night," followed by ideas for growth [23%], customer service [16%], staff [15%] and competition [9%]. Among those businesses in the North, 32% are kept up by ideas for growth.
Cash flow remains a constant concern for business owners. The number of entrepreneurs experiencing cash-flow issues remains on par with the previous fall [49% vs. 47%]. Among small businesses with cash-flow concerns, 22% will access their personal or private funds, while others will obtain and use line of credit [20%], put off purchases [14%], or use a credit card [12%] or short-term loan [10%] in order to address these concerns.
Business owners' handle on accounts receivable is not as good as they think. Nearly eight in 10 [79%] entrepreneurs do not believe their accounts receivable are too high. Yet, to improve cash flow, 25% are most likely to get aggressive in collecting accounts receivables. Others will look for special payment terms [13%], raise prices [12%], or offer customer discounts for early payment [11%] in order to improve cash flow.
On average, small-business owners are able to project cash on hand five months out. Business owners in the South are in the ideal situation, with the ability to project cash on hand more than six months out.
"It is not surprising that tightening purse strings put greater emphasis on cash flow," said Sobbott. "Anecdotally, we see small-business owners becoming more sophisticated in dealing with cash-flow issues, pursuing solutions such as special payment terms like trade terms."
Prosperity Signifies Growth; More Male than Female Entrepreneurs Have Plans to Grow
The majority of entrepreneurs plan to grow over the next six months. However, views on growth diverge regionally and among the sexes.
According to the survey, three-quarters of business owners plan for growth over the next six months. However, more male than female business owners have a plan to grow [82% and 64%, respectively].
Overall, three out of 10 [30%] small businesses measure growth by their profits. One out of five [22%] measure growth by the number of customers; this number jumps to nearly one in three [32%] in the West. One-third [35%] of owners agree that "growth" can be signified by prosperity; significantly fewer associate growth with achieving balance/wellness [23%], the freedom to choose [20%], and popularity [15%].
Being an Entrepreneur is as Fulfilling as Expected
Business concerns do not weigh on business owners' sense of fulfillment. Despite an uncertain economy and concerns over cash flow, three out of four [74%] owners of small businesses find that being an entrepreneur is fulfilling, while only 46% agree that being an entrepreneur is harder than expected; this number rises to 53% in the West.
Four out of ten [42%] agree they are an entrepreneur because they are a born leader. But leaving a lasting impression is what appears to matter most to entrepreneurs, as two out of three [68%] claim their business is an important part of their legacy. The vast majority of business owners [89%] in the North report this sentiment to be true.
More than Half of Entrepreneurs on Track for Retirement; Males Require More Money
Business owners are on track to meet retirement goals, although goals differ between the sexes. The average net worth business owners believe they need to retire is $1,286,000. Male small business owners desire an average of $1.5 million net worth in order to retire, compared to $1.2 million among female business owners.
According to the survey, more than half [55%] of business owners report they are on track to save the funds they need for retirement -- unchanged from last fall. However, six out of 10 say they are worried about their ability to save for the retirement they want -- on par with last fall [60% vs. 57%]. Business owners in the South are in the best shape for retirement; nearly half [49%] are not at all worried about their ability to save for the retirement they want.
Entrepreneurs Show Concern for the Environment
Even as the impact of rising energy costs diminishes, business owners' concern for the environment is still an action item. The majority of small-business owners/managers [87%] have taken steps to make their business environmentally friendly.
Half of business owners have taken steps to recycle waste products [51%] or follow environmental recommendations within their industry [48%]. Less than half [46%] buy and use recycled products, or offer eco-friendly products and services to customers [24%]. Most agree that it is important to give back their community [87%], and take actions in business to reflect concern for the environment [79%].
Additional survey results are available by contacting OPEN from American Express.
The OPEN from American Express Small Business Monitor, released each spring and fall, is based on a nationally representative sample of 627 small-business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees. The survey was conducted via telephone by International Communications Research from Aug. 20-Aug. 31, 2007. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.9%.
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 OPEN.com; or, call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a Card or loan. Terms and conditions apply.
GoodBiz113 ad partner American Express Company [www.americanexpress.com] is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.
SOURCE: OPEN from American Express
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