Wednesday, April 29, 2009

President Obama's First 100 Days Include $730 Million Jump-Start for America's Small Businesses

Today, as the nation marks President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, small businesses can celebrate the strides that Obama has made on our behalf -- primarily, via the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [Recovery Act], which he signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jump-start America's economy; create or save millions of jobs; and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges, so that our country can thrive in the 21st century.

The economic stimulus bill is an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure; enhance energy independence; expand educational opportunities; preserve and improve affordable health care; provide tax relief; and protect those in greatest need.

Recovery Act Provides $730 Million to SBA
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA], the Recovery Act will have a significant impact on small businesses and on the credit crunch, providing tax incentives and financing opportunities that will help us create jobs.

The Recovery Act makes SBA part of the solution, providing it with specific tools to make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to get loans, give lenders new incentives to make more small business loans, and help unfreeze the secondary markets to boost liquidity in the credit markets.

More details on implementation will be coming during the next few weeks. For now, though, take note that the bill provides $730 million to SBA, and makes changes to the agency’s lending and investment programs so that they can reach more small businesses that need help.

The funding includes $375 million for temporarily eliminating fees on SBA-backed loans and raising SBA's guarantee percentage on some loans to 90 percent. The elimination of fees, announced on March 16, will remain in effect until the end of the calendar year or until the funding is exhausted. The elimination of fees is retroactive to the day the Recovery Act was signed into law.

Additional funding provisions include:

* $255 million for a new loan program to help small businesses meet existing debt payments

* $30 million for expanding SBA’s Microloan program -- enough to finance up to $50 million in new lending and $24 million in technical assistance grants to microlenders

* $20 million for technology systems to streamline SBA’s lending and oversight processes

* $15 million for expanding SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee program

* $25 million for staffing up to meet demands for new programs

* $10 million for the SBA's Office of Inspector General

For more information about how SBA intends to implement Recovery Act funding, go to:

Next Steps
President Obama will conduct a prime-time news conference tonight on CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC at 7 p.m. CST. In case you miss watching and/or recording the live event, CNN will rebroadcast the news conference at 12 a.m. CST.

TIME photographer Callie Shell has compiled a fascinating collection of photos depicting President Obama's first 100 days in the Oval Office. Several are published in the May 4 issue of TIME magazine. You can also view the entire photo essay online at

SOURCES: U.S. Small Business Administration, White House

PayPal: The Safer, Easier Way to Make an Online Payment or Set Up a Merchant Account. Get Your Free Premier Business Account Now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Verbatim: Small Business and Loans, Youth, Credit Cards, Health Care, Plus New and Effective Leadership [Finally!]

Periodically, GoodBiz113 presents diverse views on small business and entrepreneurship -- directly from those who shape small-business policies and practices. Here's what some key influencers said last week...

"I want Minnesotans to be able to rely on me for assistance with the federal government. Whether it's a Social Security check, a small-business loan, or help for a returning veteran, my office will be there for the people of our state, following the examples set by Sen. Klobuchar, our fine congressional delegation, and those who came before us. That's the Minnesota way, and nobody is better at it than Alana. Drawing on her wealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in Minnesota, when I have the privilege of being certified, she'll work with me to ensure that we hit the ground running on Day One." -- U.S. Senator-elect Al Franken [D-Minn., pictured], announcing that Alana Petersen has agreed to serve as his Minnesota State Director, citing his commitment to continuing Minnesota's tradition of excellent constituent services

Petersen is a life-long resident of Minnesota who has spent the last five years working in outreach and organizing for Rep. Jim Oberstar. [April 20, Al Franken for Senate]

* * *

"The uncertain economy has forced many Americans to turn to part-time jobs once held by teenagers. This has pushed the number of teens employed to the lowest it's been in at least 10 years. Now, unable to find part-time and summer jobs, some teens are turning their passions into small businesses... Not only is starting a small business becoming a necessary way for many to earn money, it's also a way for young people to tap into their talents and use them to build a business they can be proud of. Creating a business teaches young people the importance of hard work, dedication and having a strong work ethic -- all habits that will help to carry them through a successful life." -- Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La.], chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Landrieu hosted a simulated hearing for a youth group, entitled "Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs: Why Young People are Starting Small Businesses." The hearing was part of last Monday's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day on Capitol Hill, and was designed to inspire youth to turn their creative passions into successful businesses. [April 23, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship]

* * *

"We want to preserve the credit card market, but we also want to do so in way that eliminates some of the abuses and some of the problems that a lot of people are familiar with... People find themselves starting out with a low rate and the next thing they know, the rate has doubled and fees they didn't know about are tacked on." -- President Barack Obama, after meeting with executives of the 13 leading credit card companies, whose "anytime, any-reason rate hikes and late-fees traps," he said, hurt individuals and small businesses

Obama said he will be working with Congress on new regulations for the industry. Reforms, he noted, should include strong protection for consumers and agreements that are written in clear and simple language. [April 23, USA Today]

* * *

"San Francisco takes great pride in being home to over 95,000 small and new startup businesses -- the dreamers and doers who really add such richness to our city... Despite facing economic challenges, San Francisco, with its metropolitan setting and world-class culture, continues to be an ideal location for startup business ventures because we recognize the small-business sector as being the backbone of San Francisco’s economic landscape." -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a small-business owner himself [PlumpJack Wines]

Last week, Newsom announced that his office will partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration's San Francisco District Office, the San Francisco Small Business Commission, Wells Fargo, PG&E, Comcast, FirstStep Marketing, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the San Francisco Small Business Development Center to present events around the Bay Area to celebrate National Small Business Week, May 16-23, 2009. [April 24, SBA's San Francisco District Office]

* * *

"Director of the White House's National Economic Council, Larry Summers, also took part in the discussion. He stressed that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy: 'There’s never been a big business which didn’t start as a small business.' He noted that providing health care coverage for employees is especially costly for small businesses, and 'as a country, we can do much, much better than we are.' Health care reform, he said, is both a moral issue for our children and a deeply practical issue – and this year, we have a good chance to make this right." -- Excerpt from a White House blog post by Rebecca Adelman, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], recapping an April 24 meeting hosted by Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the newly established White House Office of Health Reform

The meeting included 20 representatives from small businesses across the country, who affirmed findings in the just-released HHS report, "Helping the Bottom Line: Health Reform and Small Business" -- i.e., that small businesses are uniquely feeling the impact of skyrocketing health care costs. Last Friday's event was part of the Obama administration’s continuing series of White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussions.

* * *

"I look forward to working with Ms. Mills in coming months. After seeing SBA underfunded and mismanaged for the last eight years, it is fair to say she will certainly have her work cut out for her. Small businesses need an effective SBA now more than ever, and that starts with new leadership. It is my hope that Ms. Mills will bring the necessary fresh thinking and vigor to renew and strengthen this agency, so that it better serves entrepreneurs' needs." -- Rep. Nydia Velázquez [D-N.Y.], U.S. House Small Business Committee chair, after the Senate late last night confirmed Karen Gordon Mills as the next administrator to lead the SBA. [April 27, U.S. House Small Business Committee]

SOURCES: Al Franken for Senate, HHS, SBA, U.S. House Small Business Committee, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, USA Today, White House

Need Help to Grow Your Business? Browse Profiles and Hire Professionals on

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 26: Last Day to Vote for America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs

The deadline is fast approaching for BusinessWeek's competition to determine America's top social entrepreneurs. To root for your favorite socially responsible enterprise -- among 25 total finalists -- vote here by day's end tomorrow, April 26, 2009.

Social entrepreneurs -- enterprising individuals who apply business practices to solving societal problems such as poverty, pollution and poor nutrition — are now 30,000 strong and growing, according to B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies these purpose-driven companies. Together, they represent some $40 billion in revenue.

Not surprising, then, that they've caught the attention of venture capitalists such as those at Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that invests in companies that try to alleviate poverty, and Bay Area Equity Fund, which backs businesses aiming to make social or environmental improvements to San Francisco's needier neighborhoods.

President Barack Obama -- whose campaign pledge to "help small businesses by cutting health-care costs, improving access to capital and investing in innovation and development," and post-election Recovery Act delivers significant funding for small businesses -- has even suggested starting a new government agency to help socially conscious startups gain more access to venture capital.

In January, BusinessWeek asked readers and a few members of the social enterprise community to nominate candidates whose trailblazing companies, in operation for at least a year, aimed to turn a profit while tackling social ills.

After the call for nominations ended on Feb. 20, BusinessWeek staff sifted through more than 200, and narrowed the impressive group down to a final 25:

* Academic Earth
* BigBelly Solar
* CleanFish
* CraftNetwork
* Cyber-Rain
* D.light Design
* Fair Trade Sports
* Green Coast Enterprises
* Ground Report
* HeatSpring Learning Institute
* IceStone
* Impact Makers
* Innova Materials
* Interrupcion Fair Trade
* Lumni
* Microfinance International Corporation
* Peaceworks Holdings
* PharmaJet
* PhilanTech
* Restore Products
* Revolution Foods
* Social Venture Technology Group
* Stonyfield Farm
* TOMS Shoes

You can view a slide show that features all 25 finalists, and then vote for your favorite company through tomorrow, April 26. BusinessWeek will announce the top five vote-getters on May 2.

GoodBiz113's take: This is truly an amazing endeavor by BusinessWeek to recognize innovative small businesses leading the entrepreneurial way toward social justice on such a far-reaching scale -- locally, nationally and globally. We're especially pleased that Stonyfield Farm, whom we originally featured in October 2006 ["Recycline-Stonyfield Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other"], is among this year's 25 finalists.

SOURCES: Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan for Small Business, BusinessWeek, U.S. Small Business Administration

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

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Verve Inc. Puts Sustainable Bite on All-Natural Chewing Gum and Educational Candy-Making Kits for Kids

The Company
Verve Inc.
305 Dudley St.
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: [401] 351-6415

Founded: 1996
Employees: Approximately 5
Annual Sales: $1 million - $1.5 million

Contact: Deborah Schimberg, Founder & President

The Business
Verve Inc. makes all-natural Glee Gum in six flavors [cinnamon, peppermint, tangerine, bubblegum, spearmint, triple berry], plus educational Make Your Own Candy Kits [chocolate, gummies, chewing gum] for kids.

Rather than use synthetic ingredients for its Glee Gum, Verve promotes grass-roots economic development by sourcing directly from chicleros who sustainably harvest their super-chewy natural chicle from Sapodilla trees in the rainforests of Central America. Instead of using artificial sweeteners [e.g., aspartame], Glee Gum is slightly sweetened with natural cane sugar and rice syrup. To watch the entire "Tree to Glee" process, click here.

The Partners
Education is at Verve Inc.'s very core. Online, kids, parents, teachers, group leaders and party planners can access a wealth of educational media that helps people connect with the global sources of their food.

Offline, Verve Inc. has affiliated with several prestigious nonprofit organizations to promote economic justice, environmental sustainability plus good, clean, healthy living:
* 1% For The Planet, a growing alliance of businesses -- currently, 1,158 companies in all [e.g., Patagonia] -- that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to 1,733 environmental organizations worldwide
* American Vegetarian Association [AVA], created to promote the interests and concerns of individuals and organizations involved in the preservation, propagation, and distribution of vegetarian ideas and products
* Feingold® Association of the United States, dedicated to promoting additive-, preservative- and synthetic food-coloring-free nutrition
* Green America [formerly "Co-op America"], whose mission is to harness economic power — the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace — to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society
* Trees for the Future, an agroforestry resource center helping people in developing countries improve their rural livelihoods through the introduction of environmentally sustainable land management projects focused on beneficial tree planting

The Buzz
"The Better World Shopping Guide -- 2nd Edition: Every Dollar Makes a Difference" is the leading source of info [pocket-sized and otherwise] for ranking consumer goods according to their producers' level of social responsibility, environmentally friendly [or not] manufacturing practices, etc. The guide gives Glee Gum top scores across the board.

For anyone seeking an all-natural chewing gum, Glee Gum is the best alternative to standard fare [e.g., Wrigley's]. According to Erin Nypaver, an Amazon customer/reviewer: "This is the best aspartame-free gum on the market!!! It was so hard finding a gum that didn't contain dangerous chemicals and artificial ingredients. This is it!"

GoodBiz113's editor and publisher also appreciates its artificial sweetener- and preservative-free quality, and is especially fond of cinnamon Glee Gum. [Think Dentyne, only healthier and sustainably sourced.]

Leadership Q&A
Kari Larson, GoodBiz113: Verve is primarily categorized as a toy and hobby goods wholesaler. In terms of your company's identity then, are your Make Your Own Candy Kits Verve's No. 1 driver, or is it Glee Gum?

Deborah Schimberg, Verve Inc.: Glee Gum is the No. 1 driver. Verve would probably be more accurately categorized as a natural candy manufacturer rather than a toy and hobby goods wholesaler. However, our two product lines [Glee Gum and the Make Your Own Candy Kits] can be categorized many ways. Both lines are "green"/eco-friendly and all-natural. The Candy Kits are also educational toys.

GoodBiz113: Verve is a member of 1% For The Planet, meaning that the company is part of a global alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1% of their revenues to help promote a healthy planet. Given all the doom-and-gloom noise about these challenging economic times, how does a small company like Verve manage to give back so generously?

Verve Inc.: The environment deserves support now more than ever. We do what we can and wish we could do more!

GoodBiz113: Verve has partnered with several organizations to promote education, environmental sustainability, social justice and grass-roots economic development. You could simply access chicle in conventional and, presumably, more cost-effective ways. Why devote the human and financial resources to partnering with local chicleros, etc.? Who benefits from such alliances?

Verve Inc.: Frankly, it would be much easier to get all-synthetic gum base -- much less expensive and much less hassle! However, the company was founded with the idea of providing an income for chicleros, who are essentially the stewards of the rainforest in the Petén. We feel strongly that we want our business to be a vehicle, to the extent that it can be, for sustainable development.

GoodBiz113: What does Verve's future hold, in terms of new products, market reach, partnerships, etc.?

Verve Inc.: We're working on Glee Sugar Free and some other new products. We also hope to eventually produce our own gum base and create as organic a gum as possible. And we recently became certified as a woman-owned business and hope to find ways to work with other WBENC [Women's Business Enterprise National Council] companies collaboratively.

GoodBiz113: What is the greatest lesson that any aspiring social entrepreneur could learn from Verve Inc.?

Verve Inc.: Keep on keeping on! Apart from that, stay as close as you can to the reason that you're getting involved with business in the first place. It's hard to compete and it's hard to get one's story out, so the more consistent you can be and the more involved you can be with the triple bottom line, the more you can differentiate yourself and your business.

GoodBiz113: Any other key points that you'd like to make?

Verve Inc.: We've got the cutest mascot...

Verve Inc.'s Glee Gum and educational Make Your Own Candy Kits are available online and throughout North America. Check out the company's handy-dandy store locator to find the retailer closest to you.

Want Something Sweet, All-Natural AND Educational to Fill Those Easter Baskets? Order Some Glee Gum and Candy Making Kits Today!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Karen Gordon Mills Unanimously Confirmed as SBA Administrator By U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed late last night President Barack Obama’s nomination of Karen Gordon Mills [pictured] as the 23rd Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy,” Mills said upon her confirmation. “The SBA has a vital role to play in supporting our nation’s small businesses, so that they can be the key driver in getting our economy moving again. I look forward to leading this critical agency at this important time.

“I want to thank President Obama for this opportunity to serve as a voice for our nation’s small-business owners and entrepreneurs. I would also like to express my appreciation to Darryl Hairston for his leadership as Acting Administrator during this transition, along with everyone at the SBA, for the hard work they are doing to implement the important programs of the Recovery Act.”

In testimony on April 1 before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Mills discussed her hands-on experience managing and helping to grow small businesses.

“I was there on the factory floor in Arkansas and Ohio, working to weather the recession of the early ‘90s,” she said. “Those experiences give me a deep understanding of what our small businesses need today to survive this downturn and to prosper in the years ahead. Since then, I have helped grow companies in organic food and women’s media, and spent time in rural Maine working with our boat builders and composite technology to help them compete throughout the globe.

“The sum of my experience is this: I am a believer in American small business. I am a believer in America’s ability to manufacture goods and services that are world-class, and I am a believer in America’s spirit of entrepreneurship. This spirit is one of our country’s greatest assets, and we need to cultivate it today more than ever.”

“The unanimous confirmation of Karen Mills to serve as SBA Administrator further shows that she is the right person to lead the agency at this crucial time,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-La.], chair of the Small Business Committee, which unanimously reported Mills' nomination to the full Senate. “Ms. Mills’ background as an entrepreneur and community leader, coupled with her vast experience and education, put her in the right position to assume the reigns of the SBA. I am confident that, under her leadership, the agency will be better equipped to assist small businesses throughout the country.”

“I am thrilled that the Senate has approved Karen Mills’ nomination unanimously,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], ranking member of the Small Business Committee. “Karen is a talented and intelligent entrepreneur, and she will bring her vast experience, remarkable intellect, and exceptional creativity to the SBA as a strong and passionate advocate for America’s 27 million small businesses.

“I was so proud to have recommended to the President that Ms. Mills, a fellow Mainer, serve as our next administrator of the SBA, and I look forward to partnering with her on bold initiatives to tackle America’s economic problems.”

As Administrator of the SBA, Mills will direct a federal agency with more than 2,000 fulltime employees, with a leading role in helping small-business owners and entrepreneurs secure financing, technical assistance and training, and federal contracts. SBA also plays a leading role in disaster recovery by making low-interest loans.

Mills, of Brunswick, Maine, was president of MMP Group and has a 25-year career of investing in, and growing, small businesses. In 2007, she was appointed by Maine Gov. John Baldacci as chair of the state’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on attracting investment in rural and regional development initiatives. She also co-authored a Brookings Institution paper on competitive clusters.

Mills is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers. She holds a degree in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. Mills and her husband, Barry Mills, president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, have three sons.

More information from the confirmation hearing of Karen Gordon Mills as SBA Administrator is available online at:

You can link to Mills’ written statement to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship here:

GoodBiz113's take: Indeed, having a Harvard Business School alum, venture capitalist, and thoughtful and compassionate visionary at SBA's helm is just what America -- and the world -- needs right now. We wish SBA Administrator Mills the very best.

SOURCES: Harvard Business School [photo], SBA Press Office, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Get the One Key Tool That Boosts Your Bottom Line: Proposal Kit Delivers Fast and Accurate Quotes, Proposals and Contracts That Increase Your Profitability and Professionalism. Easy and Downloadable!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Landrieu Fights for Small-Business Contracts in Military Procurement Process

United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu [D-La.] wrote today to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin [D-Mich.] and Ranking Member John McCain [R-Ariz.] in support of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 [S.454], which was marked up this morning.

Specifically, Sen. Landrieu indicated her support for Section 205, “Organizational Conflicts of Interest in the Acquisition of Major Weapon Systems,” and Section 203, “Maximization of Competition Throughout the Life Cycle of Major Defense Acquisition Programs,” which would increase meaningful opportunities for small businesses to compete for Department of Defense [DoD] projects.

Currently, the DoD procurement process sometimes lacks independent or objective analysis to determine the best firm for a particular contract. In her letter, Sen. Landrieu cited an example in which a small business was nearly put out of business because the DoD disregarded a conflict of interest when making a contracting decision.

With the help of the Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] program, the company, NAVSYS Corporation, developed technology for a GPS navigation system for the Air Force, which the government found helpful. When the Air Force began to transition the technology into its GPS program, it asked the prime contractor to assess whether the technology should be used. The prime contractor, however, had a conflict of interest in determining whether the small business should get the contract or the prime contractor should do it themselves. The prime contractor ultimately decided to do it themselves.

“Small businesses are too often overlooked or harmed by the federal government’s contracting process,” Sen. Landrieu said today. “Section 205 of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act will go a long way toward protecting small businesses from conflicts of interest, while eliminating waste and inefficiency at the DoD.

“Section 203 of the bill would also help to maximize competition for defense acquisition contracts, which will help small businesses because it creates more potential opportunities for them to participate.”

Sen. Landrieu’s letter to Sens. Levin and McCain is available online at:

GoodBiz113's take: For far too long, greedy and gluttonous prime contractors have feasted at the DoD contracting table. It's time for them to share the wealth of DoD procurement opportunities with smaller, leaner and faster enterprises who bring real innovation and cost-effective efficiencies to the needs of our military forces. Bravo to Sen. Landrieu for her efforts to improve DoD's acquisition procedures to serve the greater good.

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

Norton 360 3.0 5 User Provides Automated, Comprehensive Protection for Your Organization's PC and Online Activities -- the Industry's Fastest, Lightest and Most Complete Security Solution.