Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SBA Awards Grants to Help Veteran Small-Business Owners

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the award of grants to 10 local SBA Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs] to increase entrepreneurial assistance to veterans. The grants will provide approximately $1 million to fund programs for veterans that promote business ownership, and provide services to small businesses dealing with the deployment of key personnel overseas.

Each SBDC receiving funds will promote increased coordination of services to veterans, and will use multimedia tools to connect veterans through distance learning and customized online business counseling by providing services to reach the local veteran business community. Five of the centers were previously awarded grant funds to provide these services, and will now receive a second year of funding. Five centers will receive grant funds for the first time.

The five SBDCs receiving a second year of funding are located at the Research Foundation at the State University of New York; University of Arkansas at Little Rock; University of Kentucky Research Foundation in Lexington; University of Texas at San Antonio; and George Mason University in Virginia.

The five first-time grant recipients include SBDCs located at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade; University of Southern Maine; University of Nebraska at Omaha; Southeastern Oklahoma State University; and Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.

These SBDCs were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants based on the range of services they could provide to veterans, and will provide the services as listed below:

* The Arkansas SBDC developed as a one-stop virtual veterans’ center, providing information about health, education, employment, entrepreneurship and family issues. This portal links federal, state and local resources available to veterans. Several colleges and universities have joined in this initiative and offer free online courses to veterans through the site. The Arkansas SBDC also joins other veteran organizations to provide transition assistance for deployment, as well as for transition back to civilian life.

* The Kentucky SBDC created to provide veterans with information about the services available through the Kentucky SBDC and other organizations that assist veterans. The portal provides online business courses in English and in Spanish; lists events and workshops occurring statewide; has a blog on popular topics for veteran business owners; and links federal, state and local resources available to veterans. The Kentucky SBDC is also active in veterans’ transition events.

* The New York State SBDC created a special "Veterans’ Business Services" Web page at that links available services to veterans in the state, and also to federal, state and local resources. Online training and business development are also available from the site. The program director participates in seminars for veterans throughout the state, and plans events tailored to veterans.

* The San Antonio SBDC, through its newly created website,, is a one-stop reference for veterans and military personnel who are new entrepreneurs or small-business owners. It provides self-assessment tools, online counseling, distance learning, Web-based assessments, government contracting assistance, business planning and startup assistance, and help with preparation of applications for bank loans and financing. The website connects the resources of federal, state, and local entities that are available to veterans.

* The Virginia SBDC created, which contains easy-access video guides for veteran business owners and prospective business owners covering a wide range of subjects -- such as transitioning from the military to business, preparing for deployment, financing, and contracting opportunities. The site links vets and reservists to other federal, state and local resources available to veterans. The Virginia SBDC also participates inveterans' conferences and events.

* The State of Colorado SBDC, along with its existing partners, will coordinate a multi-state effort, collaborating with strategic partners to create an integrated, one-stop virtual resource for veteran-owned small businesses. This resource will provide information and high-quality, cost-effective small business assistance to the veteran community through Internet-based consulting, training, social networking and a veteran database registry.

* The Maine SBDC will create a technology-based program to provide the military business community with tools to overcome the barriers to entrepreneurship. The project will include a marketing initiative to promote the educational services of the Maine SBDC available to the veteran community, provide online counseling and distance learning, and create a veterans assistance portal by coordinating with other organizations that assist veterans.

* The Nebraska SBDC will provide services to veterans by coordinating with the Veterans Administration, the Nebraska Department of Labor, the Veterans in Business Forum, the Nebraska National Guard, and the 55th Air Wing and Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base. It will use news media and speeches to service clubs and other organizations to reach veterans, particularly at the early stages. The center will develop a website for veterans to serve as a portal to online counseling and courses, and provide sound and timely information on starting and running a business.

* The Oklahoma SBDC, located in a state that is home to four active military installations, will work closely with each installation to provide services to veterans and military personnel. They will also work closely with Army family readiness groups, and provide training and education to veterans, and their families, who are in business or are considering starting businesses. The center will provide resources to military personnel that will transition to the civilian world. The SBDC will also offer training sessions and workshops via live video feed through a distance learning center, and expand on established channels of communication to reach veterans in need of assistance.

* The Oregon SBDC will establish a customized veterans small business management program, engaging National Guard business owners affected by unexpected deployment and difficult economic times. The training will allow peer veteran sharing of information and best practices in business, while developing strategic planning solutions to help Oregon’s veterans. The center will serve as a one-stop point of contact and deliver services through traditional one-on-one counseling and simultaneous distance education, VoIP audio and Web technology to eliminate time and distance barriers.

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 31 @ 7 p.m. EST: HHS, SBA Leaders to Hold Live Q&A Webcast About Health Insurance Reform's Impact on Small Businesses

To help everyone better understand implementation of the new health reform law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] is holding a live, online Q&A session tomorrow evening, Wednesday, March 31, from 7-7:30 p.m. EST at The event features HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius [pictured] and U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] Administrator Karen Mills clarifying the new health insurance reform law's impact on small businesses.

"A lot of people have questions about this comprehensive and complicated legislation," Sebelius wrote in her announcement of the Web Chats. "This will be the first in a series of weekly webcasts and discussions we here at the Department of Health and Human Services will hold with you, the American people, as we work to implement this new law and ensure health security for Americans who have, until the passage of this bill, been paying more and more for health care and getting less and less in return."

To participate in tomorrow's event, e-mail your questions in advance to Sebelius and Mills will try to get to as many of them as they can during the Web Chat, then answer more via the site afterwards.

"Already, I’ve received countless questions from small-business owners about the new law and its benefits," said SBA's Mills. "In fact, this new law offers many tools to help small-business owners access more affordable health insurance options for their employees. These tools include the creation of 50 state exchanges that will allow small-business owners to access affordable health insurance plans for their employees, as well as new tax credits to help pay for this coverage."

"As the President told me recently, we have a solemn responsibility to make sure health reform is implemented carefully and effectively," Sebelius noted. "And we have an equal responsibility to make sure Americans know what changes are coming and how to take advantage of these new benefits...

"Our health insurance system wasn’t broken in a day. And it won’t be fixed in a day either. It’s going to take a lot of work. But the good news is that, after decades of talking about the need for these changes, that work is finally beginning and we want you to be a part of our efforts."

"I know you want to know what’s in health insurance reform for your small business and your employees," Mills added. "I hope you’ll join Secretary Sebelius and me at tomorrow night, at 7 p.m. EDT to find out what’s in it for you."

To learn more about the key provisions of health reform that immediately take effect, go to:

SOURCES: [photo], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Small Business Administration, White House
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Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Time to Put American Families and Small Businesses in Control of Their Own Health Care

According to a report released yesterday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, President Obama's proposal for health insurance reform will provide insurance for 32,000,000 Americans -- more than the populations of Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia combined -- thus guaranteeing that 95 percent of working Americans will be covered.

President Obama's health insurance reform plan will:

* Make health insurance affordable for middle-class households and small businesses -- including the largest middle-class tax cuts for health care in history -- reducing premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

* Strengthen consumer protections and reins in insurance-company abuses.

* Give millions of Americans the same types of private insurance choices that members of Congress will have -- through a new, competitive health insurance market that keeps costs down.

* Hold insurance companies accountable to keep premiums down and prevent denials of care and coverage, including for pre-existing conditions.

* Improve Medicare benefits -- with lower prescription drug costs for those in the "donut hole," better chronic care, free preventive care, and nearly a decade more of solvency for Medicare.

* Trim the federal deficit by $130 billion over next 10 years, and $1.2 trillion dollars over the following decade -- reining in waste, fraud and abuse; overpayments to insurance companies; and by paying for quality over quantity of care.

As President Obama says, "We must act now" and put American families and small businesses -- not health insurance companies -- in control of their own health care.

For more information, go to:

* Americans for Stable Quality Care:

* CNN/Health Care in America:


* Kaiser Family Foundation:

By all accounts, the final-stretch vote on health insurance reform will happen as soon as this Sunday [March 21]. To encourage your U.S. senators and representatives in Congress to pass this historic health reform legislation, please visit the following website for contact info:

SOURCES: Congressional Budget Office, Politico, U.S. Census Bureau,, The White House

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DOE Releases New Report on Benefits of Recovery Act for Small Businesses in Clean Energy, Environmental Management Sectors

The U.S. Department of Energy today released a new report -- "Small Businesses Helping Drive Economy: Clean Energy, Clean Sites" -- that highlights the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [ARRA] to small businesses throughout the clean, renewable-energy industry and environmental management sector.

This report found that, as of early March 2010, small businesses have been selected to receive nearly $5.4 billion in funding across a number of Recovery Act and related programs -- including loans, loan guarantees, grants, contracts and tax incentives -- in partnership with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The report highlights 26 small businesses in a range of clean-energy technologies -- e.g., wind, solar, biofuels -- along with critical new infrastructure, such as Smart Grid, advanced batteries, energy storage, and energy-efficiency tools. It also notes small businesses that are helping to advance responsible environmental cleanup efforts.

Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu [pictured] and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills highlighted the report as part of a media conference call. The call also featured Scott Lang, CEO of Silver Spring Networks, and Harrison Dillon, president and CTO of Solazyme Inc.

"Small businesses are the backbone of job creation in this country and have been a springboard for innovation in the clean-energy sector," said Secretary Chu. "The work these companies do and the innovation they produce will go a long way in helping our economy grow, and our nation succeed."

SBA Administrator Mills concurred. "Small businesses have created about 64 percent of the new jobs over the past 15 years," she noted. "Already, small businesses are one of the driving forces in the green-energy sector. With resources like those provided through the Department of Energy and SBA, we have a unique opportunity to support the creation of good, well-paying jobs here at home -- jobs that will also help keep America competitive."

Read the full report:

Some success stories highlighted in the report include:

* UQM Technologies Inc., of Frederick, Col., is a well-established supplier of prototype electric propulsion and generator systems -- including electric rotating machines and drive electronics. For more than two decades, the company has supplied these systems to both established and aspiring automakers. In 2006, UQM completed an R&D project with the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [EERE] Vehicle Technologies Program to design a power-dense motor for use in electric drive vehicles. UQM is now positioned to take its technology into production, establishing a U.S. volume manufacturer of electric drive systems. The $45 million grant that UQM received under the Recovery Act will enable UQM to establish manufacturing facilities for production volumes of 120,000 electric drive systems per year, powering all-electric, hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric passenger cars and hybrid-electric trucks and buses, creating up to 3,000 jobs.

* Silver Spring Networks, based in Redwood City, Cal., did not receive a direct grant under the Smart Grid Investment Grant [SGIG] Program, but it is still a big winner through its partnerships with many utilities around the country. For instance, Florida Power & Light [FPL] received a $200 million grant for its Energy Smart Miami project, which represents the foundation of a $700 million investment to deploy Smart Meters to every residential FPL customer in Florida. Silver Spring provides the hardware, software and services that connect every device on the grid, creating a unified Smart Energy Platform. Other utility clients of Silver Spring who received SGIG grants include Pepco Holdings Inc., Oklahoma Gas & Electric, and American Electric Power.

* Solazyme Inc., a San Francisco-based company, is a true start-up success story. Founded in 2003 by a scientist and entrepreneur who were among the first people to focus on algae as an alternative to conventional fuels, the company has pioneered a new technology to produce biodiesel and green diesel from algae oil. Like most emerging technology companies, Solazyme faced a huge obstacle in obtaining adequate funds to commercialize its technology. However, with a $21.8 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] grant under the Biomass Program, Solazyme will now be able to build its first integrated algae fuel refinery and help lay the foundation for subsequent large-scale development of an "advanced biofuels" industry. The project will create jobs in California and Pennsylvania.

* FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp. is a fledgling start-up that won an MIT clean-energy competition last year. The company is developing a new high-efficiency shrouded wind turbine capable of delivering significantly more energy per unit of swept area. FloDesign Wind’s $8.3 million ARPA-E grant represents a major increase in resources for the company that will have a dramatic effect on its ability to ramp up technology development.

* Universal Display Corporation was awarded a $4 million ARRA grant by DOE, under the Building Technologies Program [BTP] to scale and transfer its technologies to a partner pilot organic light-emitting diodes [OLED] manufacturing line to be set up in the U.S. The project will facilitate the growth of the embryonic OLED lighting industry by providing prototype lighting panels to U.S. luminaire manufacturers -- to incorporate into products, to facilitate testing of design, and to gauge customer acceptance. Part of a new DOE initiative designed to help establish and maintain U.S. leadership in solid-state lighting manufacturing, the funding will help UDC lay the foundation for the development of an OLED lighting industry in the U.S.

In toto, the Recovery Act awarded DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [EERE] $16.8 billion for its programs and initiatives. For details about EERE's funding and how it is being spent, go to:

SOURCES:, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Small Business Administration

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March 17: Secretary Sebelius Takes Questions About Health Reform Via Yahoo! News and Ustream at 5:15 p.m. ET

Today, as our nation enters the home stretch on health reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will take your questions via Yahoo! News and Ustream. You can e-mail your questions to, and then join the chat at 5:15 p.m. ET. The entire event will stream via White House Live.

"President Obama's health insurance reform plan will make our insurance system work for families, small-business owners, and individuals," Sebelius wrote in an op-ed piece published in today's Yahoo! News.

"First, it will protect families by ending the worst insurance practices," Sebelius explained. "It will outlaw the practice of arbitrarily canceling someone’s coverage and eliminate caps on benefits. It will also forbid insurance companies from denying you coverage because of a pre-existing condition like high blood pressure. So for the first time ever, every American will be able to get an insurance policy.

"Second, it will give self-employed workers and small-business owners the same private insurance choices as members of Congress by creating a new, consumer-friendly insurance marketplace called an exchange. Because this marketplace will allow consumers to band together to negotiate lower rates, it's estimated that premiums for many consumers will go down 14 to 20 percent for comparable coverage. And it will provide tax credits to help middle-class Americans and small-business owners buy insurance.

"Third, the president's plan will bring down costs for families, businesses, and government with the broadest package of health care cost-cutting measures that has ever come before Congress. A report from the Business Roundtable [an association of CEOs from leading U.S. companies] says these reforms could lower costs by as much as $3,000 per employee. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the president's plan will lower the federal deficit by about $100 billion over the next 10 years.

"Collectively, these changes will help give Americans control of their health care choices..."

To learn about what President Obama's proposal for health insurance reform specifically means to you, go directly to the following sites:

* Own a small business?

* Have insurance through work?

* Have Medicare coverage?

* Don't have any insurance?

* Buy your own insurance?

GoodBiz113's take: Health reform deserves everyone's full attention and understanding. Make time to learn about how President Obama's proposal for health reform will benefit you, your family, and/or small business. Then, contact your senator and/or representative in Congress ASAP, and ask them to vote for the triple-win plan this week:

SOURCES: Congressional Budget Office,,, The White House [photo], Yahoo! News

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Locke, Landrieu Announce $80 Million Recovery Act Investment to Expand Broadband Internet Access and Economic Opportunities in Louisiana

Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke [pictured], joined by Sen. Mary Landrieu, chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, announced an $80 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [Recovery Act] investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and health care in Louisiana.

The grant will bring high-speed Internet access to more than 80 community anchor institutions -- including universities, K-12 schools, libraries, health-care facilities -- and lay the groundwork for bringing affordable broadband service to thousands of homes and businesses in the region.

The Louisiana Broadband Alliance, a collaboration among six state agencies, plans to deploy more than 900 miles of fiber-optic network to expand broadband Internet service in some of the most economically distressed regions of Louisiana. The 3,488-square-mile service area includes 12 impoverished parishes targeted by the state’s Louisiana Delta Initiative and a separate five-parish area that is home to four federally recognized Native American Indian tribes.

The new network would connect to the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative [LONI], a 1,600-plus mile fiber-optic network that connects Louisiana and Mississippi research universities to National LambdaRail and Internet2.

"This critical investment will expand computer and high-speed Internet service access to Louisiana residents most in need, helping to make them full participants in today’s 21st-century information economy," said Locke. "We are giving the people of Louisiana new tools to educate themselves, to promote their businesses, and to create more opportunities for their families and their community."

Earlier this week, Secretary Locke announced a $1.4 million grant to the Deaf Action Center of Louisiana, to provide on-demand, cost-effective sign-language interpretation at community anchor institutions, such as hospitals, courts, public-safety agencies, shelters, schools and libraries.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s [NTIA] Broadband Technology Opportunities Program [BTOP], funded by the Recovery Act, provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

"Today, we have taken a big leap in our efforts to expand high-speed Internet throughout rural Louisiana, including the Delta parishes in the northeast part of our state," said Sen. Landrieu. "Creating jobs and spurring rural small-business growth, these new funds will increase broadband capacity at our homes, schools, and hospitals to advance education, research, and health-care delivery to areas in need of modern infrastructure.

"I am thankful for the Department of Commerce’s support of this, and the many innovative projects we have going on in Louisiana to improve broadband access."

Today’s announcement marks one of the many awards that Louisiana has received -- including five broadband expansion awards totaling more than $61 million.

"The Board of Regents has committed to small-business providers in the state that in utilizing the grant dollars, we will work together with the goal of ensuring that expenditures will complement the existing infrastructure and investment they have made," said Dr. Sally Clausen, commissioner of higher education for the Board of Regents. "We extend our deepest appreciation to Sen. Landrieu and Secretary Locke for this award that will better connect our schools and their students, thus providing them with better opportunities for education and economic success.

NTIA received more than 1,800 applications proposing projects totaling nearly $19 billion during the first BTOP funding round, and is now awarding grants on a rolling basis. NTIA is currently accepting BTOP applications for a second funding round.

Applications for Public Computer Centers and Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects are accepted through March 15, 2010; and applications for Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects are accepted through March 26, 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to NTIA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service [RUS] to fund projects that will expand access to and adoption of broadband services. Of that funding, NTIA will utilize $4.7 billion for grants to deploy broadband infrastructure in the U.S., expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. NTIA will announce all grant awards by Sept. 30, 2010.

For information about broadband funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to:

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, The White House

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Kathleen Sebelius: Giving Peace of Mind Back to the American People

Today, after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius [pictured next to President Obama, with insurance-industry CEOs in White House Roosevelt Room] convened a meeting with health insurance executives to get answers about recent large increases in health insurance premiums across the country, she blogged about the immediate need for health reform:

* * *

The urgency of health reform couldn’t be more clear.

Across the country, working families have been saddled with huge rate increase in their health insurance premiums. In California, consumers were informed of rate hikes as high as 39 percent; and, in Michigan, insurers sought a 56 percent increase. And this is happening across the country.

This is unacceptable -- particularly at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, and the largest insurers took in more than $12 billion in profits last year alone. The American people want to understand why their premiums are skyrocketing while some companies are doing well. And they deserve a clear and accurate explanation.

I just got out of a meeting where I asked leaders from big insurance companies for answers. I hosted a discussion with the CEOs of UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Health Care Service Corporation, and CIGNA HealthCare Inc., along with leaders from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. I asked them to explain why these crushing burdens are being placed on middle-class families and what we can do to lower costs.

I also asked the CEOs to post the actuarial justification for these stunning rate increases online in an easy-to-understand manner, so that consumers can see why premiums are skyrocketing to the point that some people in the individual market can no longer afford coverage. I hope they will act quickly and make this information available to all of us. If insurance companies are going to raise rates, the least they can do is tell us why.

But families deserve more. They need to know how we can prevent these increases from happening in the future. Families want to be responsible and buy health insurance. They’re willing to pay a fair price. They understand that health care is not cheap.

But they don’t want to be afraid every time they open a letter from their insurer that their premiums are going up $7,000 a year. Or that their application has been rejected because they take a medicine for high blood pressure. Or that their insurance is being cancelled because of a mistake on their paperwork.

The point of health insurance is to give people peace of mind, and they’re not getting it. The system we have is failing them.

President Obama has offered a health insurance reform proposal to help working families and small-business owners. It will hold insurance companies accountable by laying out common-sense rules of the road to keep premiums down, prevent insurance industry abuses, and outlaw discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Reform also includes key provisions that will protect consumers from unjustified premium increases. Building upon existing state practices, the President’s plan includes a new federal authority to force insurers to justify their rate increases, provide additional support for states that already do rate reviews, and help those states that don’t currently review increases on their own.

Right now, in 21 states, insurance companies can raise rates without any oversight, no questions asked, and consumers suffer. Reform will change the rules and help stop exorbitant increases.

And the President’s plan will help reduce costs and require insurance companies to dedicate more of the premiums dollars they collect to actual care -- instead of profits, CEO salaries and advertising. If they don’t spend enough on actual care, they’ll be required to send rebate checks to consumers.

Comprehensive reform is a necessary step to fix our broken health insurance market. Holding the insurance industry accountable is one step in that direction.

* * *

For answers to small-business owners' frequently asked questions about what President Obama's health insurance reform proposal means for their companies and their employees, visit If you don't find the answers you need, you can submit your own question.

For the latest health reform-related developments, go to

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

President Obama: It's Time to Move Forward and Put the American People In Control of Their Health Care -- and In Front of Insurance Companies

Earlier this afternoon, President Barack Obama [pictured above in the White House East Room, flanked by six doctors] made it exceedingly clear that he intends to move forward on reform to put Americans in control of their health care, and explained once again why:

"Democrats and Republicans agree that this is a serious problem for America. And we agree that if we do nothing -- if we throw up our hands and walk away -- it’s a problem that will only grow worse. Nobody disputes that. More Americans will lose their family's health insurance if they switch jobs or lose their job. More small businesses will be forced to choose between health care and hiring. More insurance companies will deny people coverage who have pre-existing conditions, or they'll drop people's coverage when they get sick and need it most. And the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid will sink our government deeper and deeper and deeper into debt. On all of this we agree.

"So the question is, what do we do about it?"

The President proceeded to reiterate substantive facts related to the decades-long discourse about providing affordable health care for American individuals, working families and businesses. He punctuated his remarks with a call for an up or down vote from Congress in the next few weeks, concluding "I ask Congress to finish its work, and I look forward to signing this reform into law."

GoodBiz113's take: Hooray for President Obama -- and virtually everyone who has a stake in seeing that his comprehensive, win-win-win health reform proposal finally becomes law. We applaud his compassion, tenacity and leadership, and urge our readers to contact their elected officials in Washington to move forward and pass health insurance reform once and truly for all.

To find your senator and/or representative, simply go to:

To read the entire transcript of President Obama's remarks, visit:

To view the video, go to:

Last, but not least, if you want specific, clear, succinct and refreshingly forthright answers regarding what the President's health reform proposal means to you, go directly to the following sites:

* Own a small business?

* Have insurance through work?

* Have Medicare coverage?

* Don't have any insurance?

* Buy your own insurance?

We'll end this post with the very words that President Obama used to conclude today's resounding speech: "Let's get it done."

SOURCES:,, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

SBA Proposes New Women's Procurement Rule; Landrieu Says 'It's a Step in the Right Direction'

The U.S. Small Business Administration today released a proposed rule aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses [WOSBs]. The proposed rule is available for public comment for 60 days.

The proposed rule is part of the Obama administration’s overall commitment to expanding opportunities for small businesses to compete for federal contracts -- in particular, those owned by women, minorities and veterans. This proposed rule identifies 83 industries in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented in the federal contracting marketplace. This rule is aimed at providing greater opportunities for WOSBs to compete for federal contracts, while achieving the existing statutory goal that five percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses.

"Women-owned small businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy, yet they continue to be under-represented when it comes to federal contracting," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured]. "Across the country, women are leading strong, innovative companies, and we know that securing federal contracts can be the opportunity that helps them take their businesses to the next level, expand their volume, and create good-paying jobs. This proposed rule is a step forward in helping ensure greater access for women-owned small businesses in the federal marketplace.”

The creation of a rule to increase federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs was authorized by Congress in 2000. Since that time, SBA took a number of steps to study and analyze the market, including looking at participation bywomen-owned small businesses across all industries. Various draft rules were made available for public comment in prior years, but the Obama administration chose last year to draft a new, comprehensive rule, based on the analysis of the prior studies and on all the questions and comments previously received.

Some of the components of the proposed Women-Owned Small-Business Rule include:

* To be eligible, a firm must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women mus tbe U.S. citizens. The firm must be "small" in its primary industry, in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. In order for a WOSB to be deemed "economically disadvantaged," its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the proposed rule.

* Based upon the analysis in a study commissioned by the SBA from the Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, the proposed rule identifies 83 industries [identified by NAICS codes] in which women-owned small businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented.

==> The SBA has identified eligible industries based upon the combination of both the "share of contracting dollars" analysis, as well as the "share of number of contracts awarded" analysis used in the RAND study. This differs from an earlier proposed version of the rule which identified only four industries in which women-owned small businesses were under-represented. This earlier version proposed to identify eligible industries based solely on the "share of contracting dollars" analysis used in the RAND study.

* In accordance with the statute, the proposed rule authorizes a set-aside of federal contracts for WOSBs, where the anticipated contract price does not exceed $5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts, and $3 million in the case of other contracts. Contracts with values in excess of these limits are not subject to set-aside under this program.

* The proposed rule removes the requirement, set forth in a prior proposed version, that each federal agency certify that it had engaged in discrimination against women-owned small businesses in order for the program to apply to contracting by that agency.

* The proposed rule allows women-owned small businesses to self-certify as "WOSBs" or to be certified by third-party certifiers, including government entities and private certification groups.

==> The proposed rule requires WOSBs which self-certify to submit a robust certification at the federal ORCA website, and also to submit a core set of eligibility-related documents to an online "document repository" to be maintained by the SBA. Each agency’s contracting officers will have full access to this repository.

==> The SBA intends to engage in a significant number of program examinations to confirm eligibility of individual WOSBs.

==> In the event of a contract protest or program review, the SBA will be entitled to request substantial additional documentation from the WOSB to establish eligibility.

==> SBA intends vigorously to pursue ineligible firms which seek to take advantage of this program and, in so doing, to deny its benefits to the intended legitimate WOSBs.

Landrieu Comments on Changes to Women-Owned Small-Business Contracting Rule
United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu [D-La.], chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today made the following comment on the Obama administrations changes to the Women-Owned Small Business [WOSB] Rule:

"The proposed changes to the Women-Owned Small-Business Contracting Rule is a step in the right direction for small businesses looking to compete for, and win, federal contracts, especially those women-owned small businesses," said Sen. Landrieu.

"By law, five percent of all federal contracts should be awarded to women-owned small businesses," Landrieu noted. "This proposed rule specifically targets 83 industries that WOSB’s are under-represented in federal procurement -- up from the four industries that were proposed during the Bush administration. Our goal is to far exceed this requirement, and the new rule clears the way for that to happen. This rule gives WOSBs greater access to federal contracts and allows them to increase their competitiveness in the global economy."

The public may submit comments to this proposed rule up until close of business on May 3, 2010, to, where they will be posted. Or, comments may be mailed to Dean Koppel, Assistant Director, Office of Policy and Research, Office of Government Contracting, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 3rd St. SW, Washington, DC 20416. Please reference RIN 3245-AG06 when submitting comments.

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

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