Saturday, November 17, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE: Diversity Council

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Friday, November 16, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: New York Giants, ShopRite Partners In Caring

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Kerry, Akaka Seek More Veteran Business Owner Data

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

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

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

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

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


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

November 9, 2007

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

Dear Secretary Gutierrez:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Committee Examines Economic Impact of the Nation’s Small Firms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View video highlights from today’s hearing.

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

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Snowe and Kerry Introduce SBA Lender Oversight Legislation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cardin Chairs Small-Business Field Hearing on Improving Government Contracting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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