Saturday, July 31, 2010

President Obama Hails Auto Industry Successes, Calls on Senate Republican Leaders to 'Stop Holding America's Small Businesses Hostage to Politics'

In this week's address -- delivered from the General Motors automobile assembly plant in Detroit/Hamtramck, Mich. -- President Barack Obama praised the successes of the auto industry's restructuring. When his Administration decided to invest in the American car companies, some said such a move was bound to fail. But since GM and Chrysler have emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has added 55,000 jobs -- the strongest growth in 10 years -- and, for the first time since 2004, all three companies are operating at a profit.

The President also called on Republican leaders in the Senate to stop blocking a vote on a bill helping small businesses. Even though this bill will help the nation's recovery, and has been endorsed by groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business [NFIB], the Republican Senate leadership continues to hold it hostage to politics by denying an up-or-down vote on the bill.

To view the video of President Obama's weekly address, go to:

To read the transcript of the President's weekly address, please visit:

To learn more about H.R. 5297 -- The Small Business Jobs and Credit Bill of 2010, go to:

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

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

New SBA Website to Go Live This Fall; Revamped Will Deliver Essential Information and Services to Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that a complete redesign of its website,, will launch this fall.

The new will make it easier for small businesses, lending institutions, small-business counselors and other members of the small-business community to more quickly find the information they need through a simplified navigation structure. In addition, new features will allow users to tailor their experience to provide information that is specific to their needs and location. also will also offer a dedicated lender area that helps banks and other financial institutions that partner with the SBA.

"Our goal as an agency is to get information, tools and services into the hands of small-business owners more quickly, so they can spend more time doing what they do best: creating the jobs that will drive our economic recovery," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured]. "Through a new, personalized and dynamic, we will be better able to support job growth across the country."

The website redesign is part of the SBA’s goal to create a dynamic online presence that delivers information to customers wherever they are online. To achieve this goal, the agency recently began using social media to reach constituents through a variety of online channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.

In advance of this fall's launch of the new site, the agency also recently launched an improved search function on the current website, which vastly improves the speed at which users can find the information they are seeking.

SBA's website redesign is also the Flagship Initiative of the agency’s Open Government Plan, and addresses all three of SBA’s Open Government goals -- i.e., transparency, participation and collaboration -- by providing direct access to agency programs and operations. It also allows users to customize their online experience and, beginning next year, incorporates community features, such as discussion forums and public feedback tools.

For more information on the SBA’s online expansion, please visit

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Vice President Biden Makes His Second Trip to the Gulf Coast; SBA Assistance Loans Surpass $15 Million

In his second trip to the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Theodore, Ala., yesterday to assess efforts to counter the disaster.

During his visit, the Vice President [pictured above with Walt Dorn, of Patriot Environmental Services] toured the Theodore Staging Facility, met with response personnel, inspected boom, and participated in a roundtable discussion with fishermen and small-business owners from the area. He was joined by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco.

Afterwards, the Vice President stressed the Administration’s commitment to restoring the Gulf Coast: "We’re not going to stop until this area -- all the entire Gulf -- has recovered; until the economy of the Gulf is revitalized and literally a way of life is restored," he said. "Because we’re not just talking about a natural ecosystem that’s in danger down here. We’re talking about an economic ecosystem.

"We’re also talking about a cultural ecosystem, a whole way of life. Whatever it takes to make this Gulf right, we’re going to make it right."

Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $15 Million
To date, the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] has approved 181 economic injury assistance loans, totaling more than $15 million for Gulf Coast small businesses impacted by the Deepwater BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 707 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $3.7 million per month in payments.

For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s website at; call 800-659-2955 [800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired]; or e-mail

Additional Resources
For information about the response effort, visit

For specific information about the federal-wide response, visit

SOURCES: U.S. Small Business Administration, Unified Command for the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, The White House [photo by David Lienemann]

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

LeMieux, Landrieu, Senate Democrats Fight to Include Credit Relief for Small Businesses

Last night, United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu [D-La.], chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Sen. George LeMieux [R-Fla.] -- along with Sens. Barbara Boxer [D-Cal.], Maria Cantwell [D-Wash.], Amy Klobuchar [D-Minn.], Jeff Merkley [D-Ore.] and Patty Murray [D-Wash., pictured] -- introduced an amendment, S. Amdt. 4500, The Small Community Business Lending Fund, designed to increase capital to small businesses struggling to access lines of credit to hire workers, improve their infrastructure, and grow their businesses.

The LeMieux-Landrieu amendment will inject $30 billion through healthy community banks into the small-business economy. This addition to the Small Business Job Creation Act of 2010 is estimated to save taxpayers $1.1 billion over 10 years.

"Like the rest of our nation, Florida’s economy needs help," said Sen. LeMieux. "Unemployment is high and Floridians want to get back to work. Small-business owners want to grow their operations and rehire workers.

"One of the biggest hurdles is the ability of businesses to secure loans or investors. This bill primes the engine for investment. It is what we need, and it will help move our economy in a positive direction."

Sen. Landrieu agreed. "Small business in America needs a champion in Washington right now," she said. "While many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle choose to hide behind partisan rhetoric, we have been working to make life a little easier for the 27 million small businesses across the country.

"Contrary to what some are saying about this lending fund, this program is not to bail out the big banks; it is for the small businesses across this country. We are simply using the healthy community banks as a conduit to get money flowing to these businesses. I appreciate Sen. LeMieux’s commitment to help small businesses, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation because it is the right thing to do."

"Small businesses are the engines of job creation, and credit is the oil to keep the engine running," Merkley noted. "The Small Business Lending Fund will help small businesses put America back to work. This amendment will give every Senator a chance to show whether they stand for small businesses and more jobs, or prefer to play politics.”

"When are we going to stand up for small businesses in America -- who have had trouble getting access to this capital, who have been penalized?" Sen. Cantwell declared in remarks on the Senate floor. "What they want to know is, if they didn’t cause this mess, how is it that when it came to the big banks, everybody said, 'Yup, here’s the opportunity for you.' Everybody said, 'Here’s the keys to the Treasury. Here’s all the money.'

"But now, when it comes to making sure that community banks are lending to small businesses, people are saying, 'No, Main Street doesn’t have the same priority as Wall Street.

"Small business is asking for an effective lending program through the community banks; that’s all they’re asking for. And we gave Wall Street a bailout -- without any terms and conditions for repayment."

"Small businesses are the heart and soul of so many of our communities, and our economy is strongest when they have the capital they need to keep their doors open and add jobs," said Sen. Murray. "This economic downturn has hit small businesses hard, and we owe it to Main Streets across America to make sure they have access to the capital they need to not only survive, but thrive."

"In an increasingly competitive global economy, it is important to ensure that small- and medium-sized businesses have access to information and tools to capitalize on potential opportunities in foreign markets," Sen. Klobuchar said. "Small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country, and by increasing exports, they can lead the way to economic recovery."

The Small Community Business Lending Fund has been endorsed by several organizations -- including the Independent Community Bankers of America, the American Bankers Association, the National Small Business Association, the National Association for the Self-Employed, Small Business Majority, the National Bankers Association, plus the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, among others.

A complete summary of the LeMieux-Landrieu Amendment can be viewed by going to:

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

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DOE Announces $30 Million for Energy-Efficient Housing Partnerships

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced 15 research-and-deployment partnerships to help dramatically improve the energy efficiency of American homes. These highly qualified, multidisciplinary teams will receive a total of up to $30 million for the initial 18 months of the projects to deliver innovative energy efficiency strategies to the residential market, and address barriers to bringing high-efficiency homes within reach for all Americans.

A total of up to $20 million per year will also be made available for the partnerships of three potential one-year extensions. These research-and-deployment partnerships will provide technical assistance to retrofit projects, and will leverage industry expertise and funding to support DOE's energy-efficiency retrofit programs.

This effort will support the department's Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, announced by Vice President Joe Biden in April [see GoodBiz113 article, "Vice President Biden Kicks Off Earth Day Activities; 25 Communities Selected for Recovery Act 'Retrofit Ramp-Up' Energy-Efficiency Awards"], which brings communities, governments, private-sector companies and nonprofit organizations together to deliver energy-efficiency upgrades, or retrofits, to entire neighborhoods and cities.

"Home energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most immediate and most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon pollution and save money on energy bills, while creating new jobs," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu [pictured]. "By developing and using tools to reduce residential energy use, we will spur economic growth here in America, and help homeowners make cost-cutting improvements in their homes."

The partnerships announced today will provide additional support to ongoing retrofit initiatives that are making cost-effective energy efficiency retrofits easily accessible to hundreds of thousands of American homes and businesses. These partnerships will research and deploy new technologies and demonstration projects, and provide systems engineering, quality assurance, and outreach for retrofit projects throughout the country.

Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting -- such as air-tight ducts, windows and doors; heating and cooling systems; insulation and caulking -- can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent per home, and cut energy bills by $40 billion annually.

The following selections were made though the DOE Building Technologies Program, which forges research partnerships across the residential building industry to develop cost-effective solutions that dramatically reduce the average energy use of housing while improving comfort and quality. To find out more, visit

To further support the broad deployment of energy-efficient building retrofits, DOE is hosting the Residential Building Energy Efficiency Meeting 2010 in Denver, Col., from July 20-22, to present cutting-edge research results; identify key stakeholder and market transformation needs; and facilitate collaboration opportunities between conference participants. This conference is targeted to researchers, architects, contractors, manufacturers, builders, utilities, legislators, lenders, realtors, auditors, raters, installation technicians, homeowner association representatives, and anyone else interested in creating substantial connections with the field.

The following is a brief description of the selected teams -- each of which will receive between $500,000 and $2.5 million, depending on their performance:

* Advanced Residential Integrated Energy Solutions [ARIES], led by Levy Partnership of New York, N.Y. ARIES will focus on energy solutions for new and existing affordable housing, including factory- and site-built homes. ARIES is a broad-based industry team of more than 50 organizations, including implementers, product suppliers and trainers. The ARIES technical team members include CDH Energy, Southern Energy Management, Syracuse University Center of Excellence, and NTA Inc.

* Alliance for Residential Building Innovation [ARBI], led by Davis Energy Group [DEG] of Davis, Cal. ARBI will focus on resolving technical and market barriers to large-scale implementation of innovative energy solutions for new and existing homes. Team members are effectively aligned for retrofit activities -- providing considerable experience in audits, home-performance contracting, marketing and finance. Specific partners include Rocky Mountain Institute, UC Davis, Heschong Mahone Group, Green Home Solutions, and Bevilacqua-Knight.

* Building America Retrofit Alliance [BARA], led by Building Media Inc [BMI], based out of Wilmington, Del., and the New Jersey Institute of Technology [NJIT], located in Newark, N.J. BARA will focus on innovative market-delivery strategies to improve energy efficiency in our nation's existing housing stock. This team has very unique capabilities in the areas of training and outreach. Additional team members include Steve Easley and Associates, Confluence Communications, DuPont, Louisiana State University, Enterprise Community Partners, Institute for Business and Home Safety, and Hancock Software, among others.

* Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction [BA-PIRC] research team, led by the Florida Solar Energy Center [FSEC], a research institute of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla. BA-PIRC will focus on cost-effective efficiency solutions for new and existing homes in hot, humid and marine climates. FSEC possesses extensive residential energy research facilities, including the Manufactured Housing Laboratory, the Flexible Roof Facility, the Building Science Lab, the Hot Water Systems Laboratory, and the Climate-Controlled Air Conditioning Laboratory. Team members include Newport Partners [NP], Washington State University [WSU], Northwest Energy Works [N.E.W.], Residential Energy Services Network [RESNET], Building Performance Institute [BPI], WellHome, Florida Home Energy and Resources Organization [Florida H.E.R.O.], Calcs-Plus [CP] and TexEnergy Solutions.

* Building Energy Efficient Homes for America [BEEHA], led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln [UNL] and the University of Florida [UF], headquartered in Lincoln, Neb., and Gainesville, Fla., respectively. This team possesses impressive simulation and computing facilities, as well as building systems research laboratories. This multidisciplinary research team will explore and deliver systems-engineered solutions for new and existing homes. Industry partners for this team include HearthStone Homes, Rezac Construction, Barry Rutenberg and Associates, G.W. Robinson Homes, Tommy Williams, and Johnson Controls.

* Building Industry Research Alliance [BIRA], led by ConSol with headquarters in Stockton, Cal. BIRA's research will focus on energy and peak reduction in homes by evaluating technologies and market-delivery approaches for neighborhood-scale implementation. The research will target a diversity of homes and a variety of strategies for retrofit implementation. Team members include more than 80 research organizations and building industry partners, such as Washington State University, Arizona State University, UC Davis, General Electric, Ennovationz, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, San Diego Gas & Electric, Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, and Bank of America.

* Building Science Corporation [BSC] in Somerville, Mass., is a leading developer of energy systems for durable, high-performance homes. With an impressive depth of capabilities in all key areas required to complete the proposed research, BSC will focus on advanced technical solutions, code barriers, and market demonstrations for new and existing homes. The BSC team includes Affordable Comfort, ARES Consulting, Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, DEAP Energy Group, National Grid, and a wide array of material suppliers and manufacturers.

* Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings [CARB], led by Steven Winter Associates Inc., Norwalk, Conn. The CARB team has extensive experience successfully conducting and completing team-based advanced building systems research, whole-house research, and outreach. The CARB team will focus on innovative market delivery and cost-effective demonstrations of high-performance retrofits and new homes. Team members include MaGrann Associates, Alliance to Save Energy's BCAP, Pratt Center for Community Development, University of Florida's PREC, Green Builder Media, Jay Hall and Associates, Masco, and a broad spectrum of additional stakeholders in the residential energy industry.

* Habitat Cost Effective Energy Retrofit Program Team, led by Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Mich. This team will focus on applying innovative retrofit technologies, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. These efficiency technologies can deliver energy savings up to 50 percent, and will focus on addressing affordable housing in cold and mixed-humid climate regions. The team's vision is to improve retrofit methodologies by validating cost-effective strategies through test homes, and identifying technology gaps that must be addressed. The Dow team includes Michigan State University, Ferris State University and Habitat for Humanity, with technical contributions from Duke Energy, DTE, and Exelon.

* Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems [CSE] in Cambridge, Mass., will deploy large-scale energy savings by integrating efficiency and renewable energy systems in new and existing homes. The team members have extensive experience in whole-house system integration research -- from simulation through commissioning. Team partners include Owens Corning, researchers from MIT, Conservation Services Group, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Austin Housing and Economic Development, plus several additional team members from the residential buildings community.

* Integrated Building and Construction Solutions [IBACOS] in Pittsburgh, Penn., will develop and demonstrate integrated systems of design, procurement, construction, quality assurance and marketing needed to transform residential retrofits and new construction across the U.S. IBACOS team members include Advanced Energy, Criterium Engineers, EcoBroker International, GreenHomes America, and the Potomack Group -- along with a wide range of highly experienced residential building scientists, researchers, architects, green-building realtors, retrofit specialists, program evaluators and trainers.

* National Association of Home Builders [NAHB] Research Center Industry Partnership for High Performing Homes. The NAHB Research Center is located in Upper Marlboro, Md., and has over 40 years of experience as an integrated, system-based technology advancement center with the primary mission of removing technological and regulatory barriers to innovation by leveraging its access to remodelers and home builders. Team members include Southface Energy Institute, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Business Excellence Consulting, Brick by Brick, Residential Building Industry Consulting Services, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Greenbelt Homes, plus many others.

* National Energy Leadership Corps [NELC], led by Pennsylvania State University in State College, Penn. The NELC will focus on a new approach to home and homeowner assessment that facilitates multiple levels of energy-efficiency measures for existing homes -- including modest and low-cost improvements, extensive energy retrofits, occupant interactions, and the introduction of advanced energy controls and renewable-energy technologies. NELC team members include a broad diversity of partners, such as SmartDwell, Sequentric Energy Systems, Envinity, GroundedPower, ONTILITY, Eaton Corporation, Lutron Corporation, Schneider Electric, Pittsburgh Green Innovators, Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence [PACE], Conservation Consultants, East Liberty Development, and the Green Building Alliance.

* NorthernSTAR Energy Efficient Housing Research Partnership Team, led by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. The NorthernSTAR team embraces the philosophy that achieving optimal energy efficiency in houses, neighborhoods and communities requires a holistic performance approach, using an integrated implementation process. This team will develop and deploy high-performance energy-efficient solutions for new and existing homes in cold and severe cold climates. Team members include the Center for Energy and the Environment, Building Knowledge, Building Green, Hunt Utilities Group, Verified Green, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corps, McGregor Pearce, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the University of Wisconsin, and Wagner Zaun Architecture.

* Partnership for Advanced Residential Retrofit [PARR], led by the Gas Technology Institute in Des Plaines, Ill. PARR has strong experience in design, development, integration, and testing of advanced building energy equipment, components and systems in laboratory and test house settings. The team will focus on improving performance, quality and market acceptance of residential retrofits in cold climates. Team members include CNT Energy, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois, and Future Energy Enterprises, among others.

GoodBiz113's Take
Kudos to Secretary Chu for once again exercising his distinct brand of vision and leadership to fuel such a far-reaching and innovative endeavor that holds so much long-term potential. Current and future generations -- not to mention, American small businesses, our economy and the environment -- will greatly benefit from funding these win-win-win synergies.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

President Obama: 'We Need to Take New, Common-Sense Steps to Help Small Businesses'

In this week's address to the nation, President Barack Obama [pictured] criticized the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate for opposing initiatives that would create jobs and strengthen the economy; e.g., cutting taxes for small businesses, extending unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs during the recession.

"This week," Obama declared, "many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings -- a positive sign of growth.

"But too many of our small-business owners, and those who aspire to start their own small businesses, continue to struggle -- in part, because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire. And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes -- a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs -- still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.

"That’s why we need to take new, common-sense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs -- and we need to take them now.

"For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.

"Consider what that obstruction means for our small businesses -- the growth engines that create two of every three new jobs in this country. A lot of small businesses still have trouble getting the loans and capital they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. So we proposed steps to get them that help: Eliminating capital-gains taxes on investments. Establishing a fund for small lenders to help small businesses. Enhancing successful SBA programs that help them access the capital they need.

"But again and again, a partisan minority in the Senate said 'No,' and used procedural tactics to block a simple, up-or-down vote...."

To view the video of President Obama's weekly address, titled "Filibustering Recovery & Obstructing Progress," go to:

GoodBiz113's Take
For the past 18 months, President Obama has fought to help small-business owners because -- unlike his immediate predecessor -- he truly understands that small businesses are key to getting the American people back to work. He's fought for expanded unemployment insurance because he truly understands that putting money in the pockets of the people who are most likely to spend it is a cost-effective way of boosting local economies and creating jobs.

"Unemployment insurance is a vital lifeline for many families struggling to find work in these tough times," noted David Axelrod, senior advisor to the President, in a letter to folks who actually want to see Obama -- and our nation as a whole -- succeed. "Over the past few weeks, that lifeline has disappeared for more than 2 million Americans, and if Congress doesn’t act, that number will grow to 3.2 million people by the end of this month.

"Getting our economy back on track hasn’t been easy, but passing important legislation to support small businesses and Americans looking for work has proved nearly impossible. Repeatedly, Republicans have used procedural maneuvers to deny this legislation an up-or-down vote.

"There may be a lot of controversial topics out there, but support for small businesses and unemployment insurance shouldn’t be among them.

"It’s time for an up-or-down vote on these important measures. It’s time for Congress to act."

We couldn't agree more. It's time for hard-headed and mean-spirited obstructionism to stop...NOW.

SOURCE: The White House [photo by Samantha Appleton]

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Friday, July 16, 2010

SBA Offers New Podcasts to Help Small Businesses Break Into the Global Market

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering a new set of three export-oriented podcasts offering valuable information on issues and challenges that small-business exporters may face when dealing with specific countries.

The podcasts, featuring interviews with business representatives from Uganda, Cameroon and Bahrain, are part of a comprehensive effort by SBA to promote and support President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative. The interviews focus on what U.S. companies can expect when exporting to those countries, and provide information relevant to their respective business and import environments.

"U.S. small businesses looking to increase sales and profit should look beyond the U.S. borders," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured]. "Nearly 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and small businesses need to factor that in to their strategic planning. We’re hoping these tools will help them do that, so they can grow and create jobs here at home."

The podcasts on Uganda and Cameroon include interviews with two women business owners who are members of the Africa Business Women Network, an organization that supports a network of businesswomen’s organizations in Africa. The podcast on Bahrain features an interview with an official of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The podcasts are available online at, and include transcripts. They provide valuable information on country infrastructure, types of U.S. products and services in demand, cultural tips on how to do business, plus other relevant issues.

In his State of the Union Address on Jan. 27, 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative as part of an effort to promote and achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth for the United States. The President has a goal of doubling exports over the next five years -- an increase that will support 2 million American jobs. The SBA is committed to supporting NEI by offering American small businesses the resources they need to break into, and succeed in, the global market.

In addition to the new online tools, SBA resource partners Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE -- as well as U.S. Export Assistance Centers -- are available to assist small businesses that are interested in exporting in every U.S. state and territory.

These resource partners can help entrepreneurs identify potential export markets; facilitate export transactions; develop links between United States small-business and pre-screened foreign buyers; advise on participation in international trade shows; assist in obtaining export financing; and developing or re-orienting marketing and production strategies.

In addition to counseling resources in every state and territory, there are export specialists available at the eight International Trade Export Assistance Centers, plus SCORE online international trade advisers.

There are 19 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States. USEACs are one-stop shops ready to provide small- or medium-sized businesses with personalized local export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Export-Import Bank, and other public and private organizations. For more information about USEACs, go to

To find your local small-business counseling resources, please visit

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Landrieu, Melancon Urge Commerce Secretary to Provide Additional Aid for Gulf Coast Recovery Efforts

Yesterday, United States Senate Small Business Committee Chair Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured] and Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon [D-Napoleonville] sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, requesting that the Department of Commerce review several proposals that would spur business recovery in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"The Deepwater Horizon accident has had a profound impact on the economic viability of many of Louisiana’s businesses," said Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Melancon in the letter. "From shrimpers and oystermen, to restaurants, processing plants, and shipping companies, a significant portion of Louisiana’s businesses rely on the Gulf of Mexico for their livelihoods.

"With thousands of barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf every day, it is critical that we make use of every tool at our disposal to aid in the recovery efforts, and ensure that even more businesses, especially small businesses, are not adversely affected by the spill."

In their letter, Landrieu and Melancon requested that the Department of Commerce consider the following initiatives:

* Waive or Reduce Fees for Department of Commerce Export Assistance Programs: Temporarily waiving or reducing fees associated with the Department of Commerce export assistance programs could have an immediate impact on businesses. The International Trade Administration enacted a similar proposal following the 2005 hurricanes and, as a direct result of reduced fees, a significant number of Gulf Coast businesses were able to identify new export markets or attend foreign trade shows. Since 2005, Louisiana exports have increased by almost 69 percent -- the fourth highest rate of growth in the nation.

* Aid Gulf Coast Tourism-Related Business: Coordinate with local tourism partners on international press and travel trade familiarization tours. These types of tours help connect online and print reporters with local tourism boards and businesses to market U.S. destinations. Similar initiatives exposed Gulf Coast businesses and destinations to more than 1.3 million readers following the 2005 hurricanes.

* Host Department of Commerce Events in the Gulf Coast: Hosting meetings and activities in Louisiana would illustrate to prospective visitors that the Gulf Coast remains open for business. For example, the Department of Commerce is currently implementing provisions of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, which will promote more international travel to the United States by creating a Corporation for Travel Promotion. The board of directors for this new corporation could host their first meeting in Louisiana.

* Conduct a Study on the Gulf Coast Tourism Industry: Studying the pace of recovery of Gulf Coast tourism will be key to identify successes and possible obstacles. A study from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries at the Department of Commerce could identify the impact of Deepwater Horizon disaster on Gulf Coast tourism, how tourism is recovering, and any international marketing opportunities for Gulf Coast destinations.

The Department of Commerce today announced the U.S. trade deficit rose increased 4.8 percent to $42.3 billion -- the highest it has been since November 2008. While American businesses' exporting increased by 2.4 percent to $152.3 billion from their April 2010 level, imported goods and services rose by 2.9 percent to $194.5 billion.

Supporting the need for increased exporting opportunities, especially by small firms, the Department of Commerce noted that the overall U.S. trade deficit rose to $474.8 billion through May of this year -- up from $374.9 billion in 2009.

To view a copy of the Landrieu-Melancon letter to Locke, go to:

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Louisiana Firm Retrofits Building for Hammond Bird Rehabilitation Facility

A Louisiana firm -- Pevey Construction LLC, of Ponchatoula -- has been selected to retrofit an existing building in Hammond, La., to become the new bird rehabilitation facility for the Unified Command's response efforts related to April's calamitous Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Work began on Monday, July 4, 2010, and major projects are expected to be completed in two to three weeks.

The Hammond bird rehabilitation facility, located in Tangipahoa Parish, will replace the Fort Jackson bird rehabilitation facility, in Plaquemines Parish. Hammond is outside of the three-phase hurricane evacuation zones, thereby minimizing the possibility of evacuations during the 2010 hurricane season -- which is already underway. All efforts are being made to complete the move to the Hammond facility before a hurricane requires an evacuation.

The new facility measures 30,000 square feet, and has the capacity to care for approximately 2,000 birds. It is located on an eight-acre campus with existing buildings in a quiet, nonresidential area.

The Fort Jackson facility in Buras, La., has more than met the needs of the Deepwater Horizon response efforts and the wildlife that has come into its care. That facility is located along the coast in a Category 1 hurricane evacuation zone, and could be subject to evacuation and damage from tropical storms or hurricanes. Plaquemines Parish will continue to be an important location for receiving, stabilizing, and transporting animals from impacted areas.

"The wildlife branch is grateful to Plaquemines Parish officials and residents for their assistance, and we appreciate their continued support as we move to a long-term facility outside of the hurricane evacuation area," said Rhonda Murgatroyd, owner and executive manager of Wildlife Response Services LLC, and BP's wildlife branch director. "We thank everyone in Plaquemines Parish and look forward to their continued assistance with the transportation and stabilization efforts."

While the Hammond bird rehab facility is not equipped to accept walk-in volunteers, those who wish to donate their time and expertise during the Deepwater Horizon response efforts can find opportunities online:
* Alabama:
* Florida:
* Louisiana:
* Mississippi:

Key Contact Numbers
* Report oiled shoreline, or request volunteer information: [866] 448-5816
* Submit alternative response technology, services or products: [281] 366-5511
* Submit your vessel for BP's Vessels of Opportunity program: [866] 279-7983 or [877] 847-7470
* Submit a claim for damages: [800] 440-0858
* Report oiled wildlife: [866] 557-1401

For Additional Information...
* Download NOAA's "Hurricane Basics" handbook:
* Track developments in the federal government's inter-agency Deepwater Response Incident:


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Thursday, July 08, 2010

President Obama on Clean Energy: ‘We Could Have as Much as 40 Percent of the World’s Market by 2015’

Today, President Barack Obama spoke with workers at Smith Electric Vehicles' new factory in Kansas City, Mo. With a $32 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA], coupled with $36 million in private capital, the electric-vehicle company is building up to 500 all-electric trucks.

While he was there, the President [pictured above with Smith Electric executives] also had the pleasure of announcing the company was hiring its 50th worker at the plant. By September, that number is expected to grow to 70 and, at the project’s peak, Smith says the project will create more than 220 direct and indirect jobs.

"Just a few years ago, America had the capacity to build only about two percent of the world’s advanced batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles like Smith’s -- two percent, that was it," President Obama told a crowd of Smith Electric employees and guests. "We account for 25 percent of the world’s economy, and we were only making two percent of the world’s advanced batteries.

"But, thanks to our new focus on clean energy and the work that’s taking place in plants like this one, we could have as much as 40 percent of the world’s market by 2015 -- five years. That means jobs. But that also means we’re going to have an expertise in a sector that’s just going to keep on growing all around the world for years to come. So, all these efforts taken together are making a difference."

The story of Smith’s factory shows the direct and measurable impact of the Recovery Act. Smith’s factory is repurposing an 80,000-square-foot jet-engine overhaul facility at the Kansas City International Airport -- a space that was not being utilized or creating jobs is now a fully operational plant.

Along with creating new jobs and breathing life back into this facility, this project is helping demonstrate that electric-drive cars and trucks are real. Fleet customers like Coca-Cola and AT&T will test the vehicles, realizing they can save money over diesel-powered trucks with lower fuel costs.

Without government-supported demonstrations, these companies would likely have waited years before testing a new technology -- especially during an economic downturn. Like any technology, these first demonstrations will help lower the cost, as companies perfect the manufacturing assembly processes and begin operating on a larger, more cost-efficient scale.

Proposed "Green Impact Zone" Would Fuel Sustainability in Kansas City Community
Smith Electric’s story is only one piece of a much broader Recovery Act puzzle unfolding in the Kansas City area. Early this year, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver [D-Mo.] developed a plan for a Green Impact Zone to be established in a 150-block area in the city. The goal is to create a sustainable community -- i.e., one that is environmentally, economically and socially stronger tomorrow than it is today.

Here are a few of the highlights:

* Weatherization: In Kansas City, stimulus funds have been used to finish weatherization work at almost 200 residences in the last few months.

* Energy Efficiency: Kansas City will use its community block grant funds to undertake a number of projects to enhance energy efficiency across the city -- including energy-efficiency upgrades of several major buildings. The city anticipates these activities to create or retain more than 200 jobs.

* Modernizing the Electric Grid: Kansas City Power and Light won a $24 million grant to support a $48 million smart grid demonstration project.

* Science and Innovation: Kansas City-based EaglePicher Corporation, in partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, won a $7.2 million ARPA-E award to develop a new generation of high-energy, low-cost planar liquid sodium beta batteries for grid-scale electrical power storage applications.

* Advanced Vehicle Technology: The Metropolitan Energy Center’s Midwest Region Alternative Fuels Project was awarded nearly $15 million as part of the Clean Cities program to develop 27 alternative-fuel stations, and deploy 373 alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles.

Through collaboration with industry leaders, nonprofits, universities, and federal/state/local-government leadership, Smith Electric and Kansas City are demonstrating the opportunities for communities across the country to develop a clean and renewable-energy economy.

"My answer to those who don’t have confidence in our future -- who want to stop -- my answer is, come right here to Kansas City," President Obama noted towards the end of today's remarks. "Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric. I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you’re not better off than you would be if we hadn’t made the investments in this plant."

To read the full text of remarks that President Obama made today regarding the economy and the success of Smith Electric Vehicles and other young green-energy small businesses and initiatives, go to:

For more information on the Recovery Act’s work in Missouri, please visit the Department of Energy's website:

To learn more about how clean-energy small businesses are helping to drive our nation's economy forward, go to:

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Energy, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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Monday, July 05, 2010

SBA-Backed Loans to Small Businesses Top $29.3 Billion, Thanks to Recovery Act Funding

The U.S. Small Business Association [SBA] received $730 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] to help unlock the small business-lending market and get capital flowing again to America’s small businesses. Due to the success of these programs, the SBA received an additional $305 million to continue several ARRA programs.

SBA Recovery Efforts -- Impact to Date
* SBA Has Supported More Than $29.3 Billion in Recovery Loans to Small Businesses: As of July 2, SBA had supported $29.3 billion-plus in small-business lending, with the approval of $22 billion in Recovery loans since Feb. 17. From Feb. 17, 2009, to July 2, 2010, weekly SBA loan-dollar volumes rose more than 90 percent in the 7[a] and 504 programs, compared to the weekly average before passage.

* More Lenders Making Loans: From Feb. 17, 2009, to June 25, 2010, more than 1,363 lenders who had not made a loan since at least 2007 made a 7[a] loan.

* Broad Support to Businesses: A significant share of Recovery loans have gone to rural [24 percent], minority-owned [21 percent], women-owned [18 percent], and veteran-owned [8 percent] businesses.

* Secondary Markets Uptick with 7[a] Loans: After months of reduced activity and lower premiums, the SBA 7[a] secondary market is picking up, and premiums are beginning to recover. Over the past 13 months, the average monthly loan volume settled from lenders to broker-dealers in the 7[a] secondary market has been $342 million, providing lenders with additional liquidity to increase lending.

* America's Recovery Capital [ARC] Loans Helping Small Businesses: As of July 2, SBA had approved 7,925 ARC loans -- totaling over $256.6 million by 1,268 lenders -- to help small businesses make it through this tough economy.

SBA Recovery Programs
To date, SBA has implemented programs for all of the $730 million in SBA Recovery Act funding, plus an additional $305 million provided in December, February, March, and April for the agency’s lending programs -- including:

* Eliminating and reducing fees for borrowers on 7[a] loans, and for borrowers and lenders on 504 loans;

* Raising to 90 percent the guarantee on 7[a] loans -- from 75 or 85 percent, depending on the size of loan;

* Doubling the surety bond guarantee from $2 million to $5 million, thus providing small businesses with another tool to help them compete for federal construction and service contracts;

* Assisting struggling small businesses with the new ARC loan program, which provides no-interest, deferred-repayment loans of up to $35,000 to viable businesses to help them make debt payments;

* Providing refinancing opportunities for certain eligible loans into SBA-backed 504 loans for expansion and job creation;

* Expanding access to investment capital for small businesses, by increasing funding levels for SBA-licensed Small Business Investment Companies [SBICs]; and

* Taking steps to ensure the stability of the secondary market for SBA loans.

The SBA has also implemented two new programs that complement the ARRA measures and increase access to capital for small businesses by:

* Expanding 7[a] loan eligibility to more than 70,000 small businesses through a temporary alternate size standard; and

* Offering inventory financing for eligible auto, RV, boat and other dealerships under the new Dealer Floor Plan Financing pilot program.

To learn more about how SBA and the Recovery Act are helping small businesses succeed throughout America, go to:

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

My goodness. The media scene -- Web 2.0/social, traditional, etc. -- is very busy today, with heartfelt greetings, stories and insights from folks of all political and professional stripes.

First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the day with an early-morning post on the White House Blog, encouraging all Americans to support military families in any way they can. You can view her video message here:

Then, just minutes later, today's "CBS Sunday Morning" cover story featured Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussing The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, a U.S. State Department diplomacy program that sends musical ambassadors across the globe. To learn about how 10 groups of highly talented U.S. musicians are helping to promote cross-cultural understanding around the world, please visit:

Following that, master marketer, consultant and best-selling author Chris Brogan shared a thought-provoking piece on what it means to him to live and work independently. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on "A Day of Independence" here:

Last, but not least, artist-philanthropist-activist-entrepreneur George Rodrigue, a GoodBiz113 profilee ["Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans"], sent us a brief July 4th salute -- "Happy Independence Day" -- and illustrated it with "Stripes" [pictured above], a silkscreen he created in 1996. For the latest events and good deeds happening via his far-reaching George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts: Youth Development Through Art in Education [GRFA], please visit

We're off to enjoy the day -- but not before leaving a message for y'all...

Thanks for reading GoodBiz113. Your continued support of our publishing endeavor is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes to you and yours for a safe, fun and meaningful Independence Day 2010.

SOURCES: CBS News,, George Rodrigue Studio, U.S. State Department, The White House

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

'Top Chef' Tom Colicchio: 'Fish That's Coming Out of the Gulf Is Safe'

Last evening, "Top Chef" star/producer and restaurateur Tom Colicchio [pictured] told CNN's Campbell Brown that, after having spent time in Grand Isle, La., with several other prominent chefs, he thinks seafood from the Gulf Coast is safe to eat.

"We spent a lot of time with fishermen, fishing families, and talking to them -- just to try to get a better idea of what was going on there," the award-winning Colicchio recalled. "And there's sort of two stories right now that I think you need to tell about the Gulf.

"One is that this is devastating. It's horrible what's going on down there. They need to stop this oil somehow, some way. Hopefully, it will happen with this new well that they're drilling.

"But, on the other hand, there's a lot of hope. There are fishermen that are still fishing... The fishermen that aren't cleaning up the oil, they are actually fishing. And the fish that's coming out of the Gulf is safe."

Colicchio went on to note that the multi-government agency response to the BP oil-spill disaster is well-coordinated, ambitious and ongoing.

"There's five different agencies testing the waters," he noted. "There's tissue samples being taken every day. I think there were over 300 done so far since May."

"And just to be clear," said Brown, "they're not fishing in the oil spill area."

"No, no, no, no," Colicchio replied.

To read the entire transcript of Brown's interview with Colicchio, go to:

For the latest information about food-safety issues related to the Gulf Coast oil spill, please visit:

If you have questions or concerns about seafood, or wish to report any seafood you have purchased that you suspect of being contaminated with oil, call 1-888-INFO-FDA.

GoodBiz113's Take
This endorsement, of sorts, from Chef Colicchio is most reassuring -- and should prove to be a palatable boost to the devastated Gulf Coast economy. Hopefully, it serves Gulf Coast fishermen, restaurants, hoteliers, resort owners and tourism officials well in the short- and long term.

SOURCES: CNN, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

SBA Announces Appointment of Elizabeth Echols as Administrator of Region IX

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] announced the appointment of Elizabeth Echols as the regional administrator in Region IX. There, she'll oversee the SBA’s programs and services in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Guam.

"Both the SBA and small businesses of the region will benefit greatly from Elizabeth’s career in public service and commitment to innovation and business development," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "Her background in management, technology and green business will be a tremendous asset as we continue to help drive economic growth through support for small businesses throughout the region -- and, in particular, innovative businesses and entrepreneurs with high-growth and job creation potential."

"The SBA is playing a critical role in our nation’s economic recovery," Echols said. "I’m excited to have the opportunity to make a difference on the single biggest economic issue facing our country and Region IX: the need to create quality jobs and get people back to work.

"I’m honored to have the chance to implement the President’s plan for economic recovery, which includes giving small businesses the tools they need to grow and drive our economy forward. I look forward to working with Administrator Mills and the talented staff throughout the region to succeed in this important mission."

Echols currently serves as director of the U.S. Green Building Council - Northern California Chapter, where she focuses on developing public policy and forging alliances to support green jobs, and furthers the development of one of the nation’s fastest-growing nonprofits.

Previously, she co-led the agency review process for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA] during the Obama-Biden Transition Project, and served as director of policy for nearly four years at Google, where she managed the development and implementation of global policies for Google’s consumer and business products.

Echols worked on Internet and telecommunications issues at the White House and the Department of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Echols will oversee 120 employees in 12 offices, including the California district offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Santa Ana, San Diego, and Los Angeles; as well as offices in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Hagatna, Guam.

To date, SBA has supported more than 11,000 Recovery Act loans in Region IX -- worth a total of nearly $6 billion.

SOURCES: U.S. Green Building Council - Northern California Chapter [photo], U.S. Small Business Administration

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SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative Delivers Nearly $500 Million to 6,000 Veterans, Military Community

In just three years’ time, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative has supported nearly $500 million in Patriot Express loans to small businesses owned and operated by veterans, reservists and their spouses.

Patriot Express loans, which can be used to start or expand a small business, increased over the past two years due in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA], which raised loan guarantees to 90 percent, and temporarily eliminated fees for borrowers on all SBA loans. To date, more than 6,000 loans have been made.

Patriot Express was launched June 28, 2007, to expand upon the nearly $1 billion in loans that SBA guarantees annually for veteran-owned businesses. SBA also offers counseling assistance and procurement support each year to more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard.

"America’s veterans have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small-business owners," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured]. "As we celebrate Independence Day, we renew our commitment to more than 26 million veterans and service members across the country -- including the thousands returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Patriot Express initiative, in conjunction with other SBA programs, puts more capital and more tools in the hands of veterans as they grow their businesses and create the jobs America needs."

Patriot Express is a streamlined loan product based on the agency’s highly successful SBA Express Program, but with an enhanced guaranty and interest rate. Patriot Express loans are offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide, and features one of SBA’s fastest turnaround times for loan approvals. Patriot Express loans are available for up to $500,000.

The Patriot Express loan can be used for most business purposes -- including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory, or business-occupied real-estate purchases. Local SBA district offices can provide lists of Patriot Express lenders in their areas. Details on the initiative can be found at

Patriot Express is available to military community members -- including veterans; service-disabled veterans; active-duty service members participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program; National Guard and Reservist members; current spouses of any of the above; and the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or of a service-connected disability.

The average Patriot Express loan amount is almost $82,000; nearly 15 percent of those loans have gone to military spouses. After a loan application is approved by a commercial lender, it is submitted to SBA for approval. Most applications are approved by SBA within 24 hours.

Additionally, SBA has entered an agreement with six major universities to expand and deliver entrepreneurship training for service-disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a program called Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities [EBV]. For more information go to

SBA also offers business counseling through veterans’ business development officers in district offices in every state and territory, to provide access to SBA’s range of programs and services. SBA recently expanded the Veterans Business Outreach Centers to 16 locations. They're listed at

In addition to district offices, SBA’s resource partners -- including SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, an expanded Small Business Development Center program for veterans, and Women’s Business Centers [WBCs] -- provide local and online assistance with: writing a business plan, financing options to start or grow your business, managing the business, expanding the business, and selling goods and services to the federal government.

The agency, along with other federal agencies, recently entered a joint agreement to help Native American/Alaska Native veteran-owned businesses with an entrepreneurship education program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

For those who are already small-business owners and who expect call-up, the SBA and its resource partners can help with preparing their businesses before deployment, managing their businesses, selling goods and services to the government, obtaining other SBA financing and financial assistance, and obtaining loans for economic injury via Military Reserve Economic Injury Disaster Loans [MREIDL]. Loans of up to $2 million are available for small businesses sustaining economic injury because an owner or essential employee has been called to active duty as a military reservist.

The SBA and its Office of Veterans Business Development [OVBD] provides comprehensive assistance, outreach and support to veterans. Each year, SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists.

To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, please visit

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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