Tuesday, August 16, 2011

President Obama Announces New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America; Investments Boost Small-Biz Access to Capital, Job Training and Health-Care Services

Today, at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama [pictured above, during yesterday's town hall meeting in front of the Seed Savers Exchange, in Decorah, Iowa] will announce new jobs initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America.

The Council’s recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities -- including helping rural small businesses access capital; expanding rural job-search and training services; and increasing rural access to health-care workers and technology.

“These are tough times for a lot of Americans -- including those who live in our rural communities,” said President Obama. “That’s why my Administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses, and regain a sense of economic security.”

“Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama Administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By bringing new capital, job training and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future.”

“SBA is pleased to announce that we will be doubling the capital going to rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company program, with no cost to taxpayers,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said yesterday. “Small businesses of all kinds are thriving in rural areas, where they are creating jobs of the future and helping ensure the economic stability of the middle class.

“Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private-sector jobs are created by small businesses. The Obama Administration and SBA have been committed to supporting rural businesses, which drive economic growth across the country and will continue to do so through the programs announced today.”

The Council’s recommendations, which leverage existing programs and funding, include committing $350 million in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next five years; launching a series of conferences to connect private equity and venture-capital investors with rural start-ups; creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments; making job-search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide; making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff; and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT.


Helping Rural Small Businesses Access Capital

* Doubling SBA Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses Over the Next Five Years: As part of the Startup America Initiative, SBA recently announced the creation of a $1 billion Impact Investment Fund through its Small Business Investment Company [SBIC] Program. The Impact Fund will invest in distressed areas as well as in emerging sectors such as clean energy. SBA provides up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by this fund, partnering with private investors to target “impact” investments. SBA and USDA will partner together to drive $350 million of investment capital through the Impact Fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over the next five years -- effectively doubling the current rate of investment.

* Connecting Rural Small Businesses with Private Investment Capital: To further achieve this goal, SBA and USDA will launch a series of Rural Private Equity and Venture Capital conferences nationwide to provide a platform for connecting private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups. USDA, SBA, Treasury, Interior and other relevant agencies will also create rural capital “marketing teams” that pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors. These “marketing teams” will leverage existing personnel with expertise about rural funding sources across all federal departments and agencies.

Expanding Rural Job Search and Training Services
* Expanding DOL Job Search and Training Services to 2,800 USDA Sites Nationwide: USDA and DOL will partner to increase access to existing job-search and training information for rural job-seekers by providing DOL employment information at 2,800 USDA field offices nationwide. This will significantly reduce the distance that rural Americans need to travel in order to access DOL job-search employment information.

Increasing Rural Access to Health Care Workers and Technology
* Increasing Physician Recruitment at Critical Access Hospitals: HHS will issue guidance to expand eligibility for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program so that Critical Access Hospitals [those with 25 beds or fewer] can use these loans to recruit new physicians. This program will help more than 1,300 CAHs across the country recruit needed staff. The addition of one primary care physician in a rural community generates approximately $1.5 million in annual revenue and creates 23 jobs annually. The average CAH creates 107 jobs and generates $4.8 million in payroll annually.

* Expanding Health Information Technology [IT] in Rural America: USDA and HHS will sign an agreement linking rural hospitals and clinicians to existing capital loan programs that enable them to purchase software and hardware needed to implement health information technology [HIT]. Under current conditions, rural health care providers face challenges in harnessing the benefits of HIT due to limited access to capital and workforce challenges. Rural hospitals tend to have lower financial operating margins and limited capital to make the investments needed to purchase hardware, software and other equipment.


On June 9, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council to accelerate the ongoing work of promoting economic growth in rural America. The Council is focused on increasing rural access to capital; spurring agricultural innovation; expanding digital and physical infrastructure in rural areas; and creating economic opportunities through conservation and outdoor recreation.

On Aug. 12, the White House Rural Council released a new report, entitled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which lays out the economic landscape rural Americans face today and highlights the Administration’s key accomplishments in rural communities. The Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America report focuses on five critical areas: creating jobs and promoting economic growth; improving access to quality health care and education; fostering innovation; expanding outdoor opportunities; and supporting veterans and military families. Link to full report here.

Today, President Obama and members of the White House Rural Council will host the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, as part of the President’s three-day Economic Bus Tour in the Midwest. The forum will bring together farmers, small-business owners, private-sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities nationwide. The President will engage directly with a variety of rural leaders from across the nation to discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America.

GoodBiz113's Take
These rural jobs initiatives are exactly what America's small businesses and communities need in order to boost our economy for the short- and long term. The Obama Administration and his Cabinet members are to be applauded for their innovative and cooperative approach to easing our country's economic woes.

Congress, take note: Collaboration is a productive and positive thing. Our nation would greatly benefit if you took the high road and followed the Obama Administration's synergistic example to prosper the greater good, rather than myopically focus on preserving and growing the fortunes of America's wealthy elite.

SOURCE: The White House [official photo by Pete Souza]

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SBA Licenses Its First Public-Private Impact Investment Initiative Fund in Michigan

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced that InvestMichigan! Mezzanine Fund will be the first licensed Impact Investment Fund in the SBA’s new Impact Investment Initiative. The fund will focus exclusively on providing capital to businesses that are headquartered in Michigan, have a significant presence in Michigan, or are in the process of expanding their operations in Michigan so they can grow and create jobs.

SBA will partner with Michigan Growth Capital Partners, L.P., an investment partnership whose anchor investor is the State of Michigan Retirement Systems, and The Dow Chemical Company to provide up to $130 million of investment capital over the next five years to high-growth businesses throughout Michigan.

Credit Suisse’s Customized Fund Investment Group structured the InvestMichigan! Mezzanine Fund and will manage the fund in partnership with Beringea, a Michigan-based investment manager. Of the total funding, Dow will provide $15 million; Michigan Growth Capital Partners will provide $35 million; and SBA will provide $80 million, which must be repaid.

“InvestMichigan! is an important new ally in SBA’s commitment to foster small-business growth and job creation in underserved communities,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “They’re an experienced team that is well-positioned to drive more investment in small businesses in hard-hit Michigan.

“We will continue to grow this and other public-private partnerships by licensing more funds -- giving taxpayers a strong bang for their buck, and putting more capital in the hands of small-business owners to scale up and create good jobs.”

The Impact Investment Initiative is part of Startup America, a White House initiative to bring together public and private organizations to accelerate the growth of America’s entrepreneurs. It will use the infrastructure of the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company Program [SBIC], an established and successful program that operates at no cost to taxpayers.

The SBIC program began in 1958 with the mission to improve and stimulate the national economy and small businesses by supplementing the flow of private-equity capital and long-term loan funds for the sound financing, growth and expansion of small businesses. In FY 2010, the SBIC program provided $1.59 billion of financing to nearly 900 U.S. small businesses.

The Impact Investment Initiative will drive up to $1.5 billion into the hands of small businesses over the next five years. It will combine public and private funding for high-growth companies that will generate not only a financial, but also a “social” return, by focusing on businesses located in underserved communities or communities facing barriers to capital.

Through the Impact Investment Initiative, SBA will commit $1 billion to investment funds focused on investing in underserved markets, or in sectors that have been defined as national priorities.

Impact investments can be:
* Place-based -- Targeting small businesses located in, or employing residents of, low- or moderate-income areas or economically distressed areas; or
* Sector-based -- Targeting industry sectors that the Obama Administration has identified as national priorities. Currently only clean-energy and education have been identified as priority sectors.

To serve these markets, SBA will collaborate with private, institutional investors to identify impact investments and provide expedited licensing and capital to fund managers who qualify to organize and operate an Impact Investment SBIC.

High-growth firms are a small part of the small-business community, but they create a large number of net new jobs each year. The Impact Investment Initiative will help high-growth companies receive the funding they need to continue to expand and create jobs in America’s underserved communities and priority sectors.

For more information on SBA's Impact Investment Initiative, visit http://1.usa.gov/ImpactSBA.

GoodBiz113's Take
InvestMichigan! marks a significant development in the potential power of public-private synergies to boost out nation's economy -- state by state, community by community.

Kudos to SBA and its partners for making it happen. We'll be watching...

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

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Small Businesses Win a Record $97.95 Billion in Federal Prime Contracts

After reviewing the Small Business Administration’s fifth annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard, United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured] and Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine] today commented on the federal government’s effort to increase federal contracting opportunities among small businesses.

According to the most recent scorecard, in fiscal year 2010, small businesses won nearly $100 billion in federal prime contracts -- an increase of more than $1 billion from 2009. Small businesses were awarded 22.66 percent of all federal spending in FY2010 -- less than half a percentage point shy of the statutory 23 percent goal.

"Over the course of one year, we saw nearly $100 billion go into the hands of America’s small businesses, and I am pleased to see the ever-increasing role of small businesses in the federal government contracting process," said Sen. Landrieu. "With the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 last fall, we put in place ways to significantly improve these numbers, and I hope this report will be the last steppingstone to reaching our small-business contracting goals.

"The report confirmed an overall increase in small-business contracting for the second consecutive year, but the federal government still fell short of meeting their goal in many categories -- including prime contracting awards for women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, and Historically Underutilized Business Zones [HUBZones]. We continue to see room for improvement, and I am confident they are on the right track to reaching and surpassing these goals."

"Small businesses are the primary job creators in this country, responsible for more than two-thirds of all new jobs created," noted Sen. Snowe. "At a time when a staggering and seemingly intractable unemployment rate of over nine percent has become the norm -- with 22 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, and when we are experiencing the longest period of long-term unemployment in American history since data collection started in 1948 -- I remain dismayed that, yet again, the federal government has failed to meet its statutory government-wide goal -- not just for small business, but for women, HUBZones, and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

"Reports show that small businesses lost an estimated $2 trillion in profits and asset valuation since the recession started in December 2007, while larger companies have been less affected and are recovering more quickly. Given these statistics, it is all the more paramount that small businesses have the opportunity to contract with federal agencies, and anything other than meeting these goals is simply unacceptable.

"For small firms that are struggling to stay afloat and maintain their workforce, federal contracting can be an instrumental part of a larger strategy for broadening their customer base and creating jobs and, although the numbers have improved, this Administration can, and must, do better."

About SBA's Small Business Procurement Scorecard
The FY2010 Scorecard calculated the amount of federal spending for prime contracting and subcontracting to small businesses for fiscal year 2010 [Oct. 1, 2009-Sept. 30, 2010], and evaluated agencies to ensure these firms remain an integral part of the federal contracting process.

SBA graded 24 agencies on each of the individual prime contracting goals established by Congress, and used an "A+" through "F" letter-grade system.

The federal government scored an overall average of 99.2 percent -- with 99.73 percent prime contracting achievement, and 94.50 percent subcontracting achievement.

Ten agencies’ grades increased from FY 2009, 10 agencies’ grades stayed the same, and four agencies’ grades decreased. The agency breakdown is as follows:
* 13 agencies received an "A"
* Five agencies received a "B"
* Four agencies received a "C"
* Two agencies received a "D"

Overall, SBA Administrator Karen Mills was optimistic about the Scorecard results. "When the federal government gets contracts into the hands of small businesses, it is a 'win-win' situation," she noted. "Small businesses have the opportunity to grow and create jobs, and the federal government gets access to some of the most innovative and nimble entrepreneurs.

"We are proud of the achievement the government has made [in small-business procurement], but are determined that the government will meet and exceed the goal. SBA is focused on a number of key initiatives to help increase small-business contracting opportunities, as well as combat fraud, waste or abuse. These efforts will ensure the benefits of our programs continue to go to the intended recipients."

The SBA's full Small Business Procurement Scorecard can be viewed here: http://1.usa.gov/ScorecardsSBA.

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

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ex-Im Bank's Global Access for Small-Business Initiative Hits Benchmark; Phoenix Manufacturer Marks 1,000th Company

The Export-Import Bank of the United States [Ex-Im Bank] reached a new milestone this month, when the 1,000th small-business customer joined the list of first-time users of the Bank's export finance products as part of its Global Access for Small Business [Global Access] program. Serverlift, located in Phoenix, Ariz., helped bring Ex-Im Bank one step closer to achieving its goal of adding 5,000 new small-business customers by 2015 -- a central feature of Global Access, which launched in January.

Serverlift is a high-tech company that specializes in the manufacturing of lifts for transporting and sustaining data center servers. They received a $250,000 Express Insurance policy from Ex-Im Bank in June, 2011, with approved foreign buyers in Ireland and Turkey.

This financing product was developed specifically for qualified small businesses. It features a streamlined application, plus both a policy quotation and two foreign-buyer credit indications up to $300,000 within five business days.

Serverlift originally manufactured in China and recently moved operations back to the U.S., resulting in doubling the number of its U.S. employees.

"The Bank's support gives us the credibility that we need to pursue foreign buyers," said Ray Zuckerman, CEO of Serverlift. "Extending credit makes us more attractive to our customers and allows us to sell to larger companies."

The Global Access initiative is a key component of Ex-Im Bank's work supporting President Obama's National Export Initiative [NEI] and its goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. In addition to bringing 5,000 more small businesses into the Ex-Im Bank portfolio, the initiative aims to approve at least $30 billion in small-business transactions during the five-year period of the NEI. To reach these benchmarks, Ex-Im Bank is offering new financing and insurance products -- such as Express Insurance being used by Serverlift -- that complement existing Bank programs.

"Growing small-business exports is a top priority at the Bank," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg [pictured]. "The U.S. economy will not grow without exports, and we will not reach our export potential without the participation of small business. Through Global Access, we can make sure that more small businesses are selling more products, to more customers in more countries -- and, in the process, growing their business and adding new workers to their payrolls."

The Global Access initiative also includes extensive outreach. Since the beginning of 2011, when Global Access began, there have been 16 public forums across the country that have attracted over 2,000 small-business owners who have learned about the export resources available from a range of government agencies and private organizations. In addition, Ex-Im Bank has sponsored monthly webinars for hundreds of exporters that feature various financing products.

"Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside of the U.S., and the best way to reach them is through exports," said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Working with the Ex-Im Bank, America's small businesses have a golden opportunity to increase their sales, expand into the global marketplace, and create jobs at home at a time when we really need it.

"Global Access forums provide a platform for small businesses to receive guidance on how to enter new markets and increase sales by exporting."

The other leading private-sector partner for Global Access is the National Association of Manufacturers [NAM], the nation's largest manufacturing association. NAM has increasingly played a role in the nation's economic progress as President Obama recently noted that the development of the manufacturing sector is essential in creating more U.S. jobs. Significantly, the association's support of Ex-Im Bank's effort to reach small businesses has paralleled this progress.

"Expanding U.S. manufactured goods exports is vital to creating new manufacturing jobs and growing the economy," stated Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM. "Improved access for trade financing is essential for manufacturers to grow exports. Through our partnership with the Global Access initiative, we have been able to help small and medium-sized manufacturers expand into new markets, getting us closer to the goal of doubling exports by 2014."

Ex-Im Bank -- an independent, self-sustaining federal agency -- helps create and maintain American jobs by filling gaps in export financing and strengthening U.S. export competitiveness. The Bank has generated $3.4 billion for U.S. taxpayers over the past 5 years.

In the first eight months of fiscal year 2011, Ex-Im Bank approved $20.3 billion in total financing authorizations -- a 25% increase since fiscal year 2010 -- supporting $26 billion in U.S. export sales plus more than 175,000 American jobs in communities across the country. During the same period in fiscal year 2010, Ex-Im Bank approved $16.3 billion, supporting $19.9 billion in U.S. export sales and 137,000 American jobs.

For more information, visit Ex-Im Bank's Web site at http://www.exim.gov/.

Global Access forums have been held in the following locations: Manchester, N.H.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Lafayette, La.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Cal.; Denver, Colo.; Long Island, N.Y.; West Long Branch, N.J.; Miami, Fla.; Wilmington, Del.; San Leandro, Cal.; Wichita, Kan.; Charlotte, N.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Clinton, Md.

Global Access partners include: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Commerce [U.S. Commercial Service], the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative [USTR], U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA], National Association of Manufacturers [NAM], FedEx, Wall Street Journal, PNC Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo Bank, and HSBC Bank USA, N.A.

SOURCE: Ex-Im Bank

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SBA Urges Disaster Survivors to Beware of Recovery Scams

The U.S. Small Business Administration is urging disaster victims seeking federal aid to be alert to scam artists posing as federal officials, and to be cautious about any solicitations for fees to perform services that are available from federal agency staff for free.

In the wake of widespread flooding, wildfires and tornadoes in many areas across the country over the past few months, the SBA is particularly concerned about flyers that have appeared in tornado-damaged areas asking for non-refundable fees of up to $450 to help disaster victims fill out their loan applications, and as much as $1,000 to verify losses and file loan applications.

Federal agencies involved in disaster recovery will never ask for a fee or payment to file an application for financial assistance, or to inspect damaged property.

"Historically, natural disasters bring out the very best in people, and there are countless stories of the selfless acts of helpful neighbors and volunteers," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured]. "Unfortunately, in the past, we have also seen individuals who attempt to take advantage of people who need assistance. Disaster survivors should be vigilant in protecting their personal assets, particularly in the stressful environment of a disaster recovery.

"The SBA will not tolerate the defrauding of those who have already lost so much in the aftermath of these devastating disasters. Those who are found taking advantage of disaster victims will be prosecuted to the fullest extent provided by law."

If you suspect a person is posing as a local or federal agent, or encounter what you believe are fraudulent activities connected with disaster relief operations, contact your local law enforcement officials; phone the toll-free National Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721; or, send an e-mail to disaster@leo.gov. The phone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To register for federal help after a disaster declaration, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov; or, call FEMA at 800-621-3362 [800-426-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired].

Disaster survivors may also visit one of the local recovery centers to get help with filing for assistance. To get help with the disaster loan application, contact the SBA by e-mail at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov; or, by calling 800-659-2955 [800-877-8339 for those with speech or hearing disabilities].

Those affected by recent disasters may also file a loan application online by visiting SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

The SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. More information about SBA's disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tickets Now on Sale for 2011 Life is good® Festival; Fundraiser Helps Kids Face Life-Threatening Challenges

GoodBiz113 profilee Life is good® ["Life is good® Festivals Unite Communities, Help Kids Face Unfair Challenges"] is excited to announce the lineup for its 2011 Life is good Festival.

Set to take place Sept. 24-25 in Canton, Mass., a suburb of Boston, the multi-faceted fundraiser combines world-class headliners and nationally known musical talent on three stages, including several of today's most popular children's performers. This one-of-a-kind festival aims to raise $1 million to benefit the Life is good Playmakers, the action arm of the Life is good Kids Foundation.

The two-day music and fundraising festival is hosted by Life is good®, a Boston-based company that spreads the power of optimism through its colorful collection of apparel and accessories and through its social mission to help kids overcome life-threatening challenges.

The annual event will make its return to historic and picturesque Prowse Farm at the foot of the Blue Hills, just minutes from Boston. Once again, Life is good has partnered with Superfly Presents, nationally-recognized producers of the iconic Bonnaroo and Outside Lands festivals to assure a first-class festival experience for all ages.

The 2011 Life is good Festival will feature national headlining artists Ray LaMontagne, The Avett Brothers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Levon Helm Band, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Brandi Carlile, Martin Sexton, Raphael Saadiq, Ingrid Michaelson and The Hold Steady, as well as The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Maceo Parker, Tristan Prettyman, The Ryan Montbleau Band, Zee Avi, Dwight and Nicole, and Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents.

Kindie rock superstars Imagination Movers and The Laurie Berkner Band will headline the Good Kids Stage, alongside special kids' performances from Keller Williams and local favorite Ben Rudnick and Friends. The full talent line-up is listed below, and complete festival information can be found at www.lifeisgood.com.

While the festival features great music, an array of games and activities, diverse local food, and hands-on art projects, the goal of the weekend is to create a community of fundraisers. Each ticket buyer will be directed to a personal fundraising page that supports the Life is good Playmakers.

Festival-goers who raise funds will be rewarded with exclusive backstage hospitality, preferred concert viewing, artist meet-and-greets, plus other prizes. These fundraisers will be called VGPs -- i.e., Very Good People -- and will have a truly amazing concert experience.

Tickets for the 2011 Life is good Festival went on sale on June 16, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. Visit http://www.lifeisgood.com to purchase tickets and register to fundraise for the event. Adult single-day tickets are $65; $120 two-day tickets are also available. Tickets for children ages 2-12 are available for $20 for a single-day tickets and $35 for a two-day ticket. Children under 2 are admitted free of charge.

"The 2010 Life is good Festival set a new standard for all-ages entertainment, while raising significant funds for the Life is good Kids Foundation," said Bert Jacobs, chief executive optimist for Life is good. "In 2011, we are looking to build on this success by raising even more funds to help kids in need. We are so excited about the line-up, and look forward to everyone engaging in the fundraising effort to make this the most successful Life is good festival to date."

Life is good has raised over $6.5 million for kids in need since 2003. The Life is good Kids Foundation is a registered 501[c][3] nonprofit committed to helping children overcome life-threatening challenges, such as violence, illness, extreme poverty and natural disasters.

Its Playmakers initiative provides innovative training and support to the frontline child-care professionals dedicated to helping these children, so that all involved lead healthier, more joyful lives. To date, the Life is good Playmakers have trained more than 2,500 Playmakers across the country who have provided joyful, healing play to over 130,000 kids.

The site for the festival -- Prowse Farm in Canton -- is a historic 44-acre property managed by the Friends of Prowse Farm, a nonprofit volunteer organization. The property is located at the gateway of the Blue Hills Reservation, public parkland that has been set aside for recreational use.

Prowse Farm is fully accessible via public transportation, with all-day shuttles to and from the nearby Rte. 128/University Avenue train station. A large number of free parking spots are also available.

For more information on the Life is good Company, the Life is good Kids Foundation and the Life is good Festival, please visit www.lifeisgood.com/festivals.

About the Life is good Company
The Life is good Company, based in Boston, Mass., spreads a fresh outlook on life with its colorful collection of apparel and accessories, and through its social mission to help kids overcome life-threatening challenges. For more information on Life is good, please visit www.lifeisgood.com.

About the Life is good Kids Foundation
The Life is good Kids Foundation is an accredited 501[c][3] public charity whose mission is to help children overcome life-threatening challenges -- including violence, illness, extreme poverty and natural disasters. Through its action arm, Life is good Playmakers, it provides training and support to the adults dedicated to caring for these children, so that all involved lead healthier, more joyful lives.

More than $6.5 million has been raised to date for children in need, principally through Life is good Festivals and the 100% of profits that the Life is good Company donates to the Foundation from nationwide sales of select products. For more information, visit www.lifeisgood.com/playmakers/.

About Superfly Presents
Superfly Presents was founded in New Orleans in 1996 by Kerry Black, Rick Farman, Richard Goodstone and Jonathan Mayers. Originally set up to become the leading independent local concert promoter, they created the Superfly During JazzFest series, which is now in its 14th year.

In 2002, they co-founded and continue to produce the iconic Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Since its inception in 2002, Bonnaroo swiftly earned its status as the country's premier music and arts event, and Rolling Stone called the festival "one of the 50 moments to change the history of rock and roll."

In 2008, Superfly co-founded the acclaimed San Francisco-based Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.

The company has also created the Superfly Marketing Group, a boutique entertainment-marketing agency designed to complement Superfly's diverse divisions. Superfly Marketing Group leverages the company's experience, expertise and industry relationships to develop brand partnerships geared towards the passionate entertainment and lifestyle consumer.

SOURCE: Life is good®

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Artist George Rodrigue Creates LSU-Clad Blue Dog Print to Raise Funds for New Arts4Education, to Benefit Arts and Education in Louisiana

This just in: GoodBiz113 profilee George Rodrigue ["Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans"] has created a special print -- "A Number One Tiger Fan" [pictured] -- to raise funds for his new Arts4Education campaign, to promote the arts and education in Louisiana.

Measuring 31" x 22", the open-edition silkscreen print is signed by Rodrigue, and retails for $500 plus tax and S/H. Proceeds from sales of the "A Number One Tiger Fan" print will benefit the LSU Museum of Art, George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation and LSU.

For a behind-the-scenes account of this fundraising campaign, read the latest post on "Musings of an Artist's Wife," Wendy Rodrigue's blog: http://bit.ly/TigerFan1.

SOURCES: Musings of an Artist's Wife, Rodrigue Studio

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

DOE Offers Support for Innovative Manufacturing Plant That Will Produce High-Quality Solar Silicon at Low Cost, Generate Over 2,000 Jobs in Ohio

Today, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $275 million loan guarantee to Calisolar Inc. to commercialize the company's innovative solar silicon manufacturing process.

Calisolar's process should produce silicon for use in solar cells at less than half the cost of traditional polysilicon purification processes, which will reduce the overall cost of solar modules and panels. At full production, the manufacturing plant is expected to produce 16,000 metric tons [MT] of solar silicon annually, equivalent to more than two gigawatts of solar power generation per year.

The project will be built in three phases of 5,333 MT capacity each, and is expected to be located in a former General Motors stamping plant in Ontario, Richland County, Ohio. Calisolar estimates that the facility will generate, at its peak, nearly 1,100 permanent jobs, and up to 1,000 construction jobs.

"This innovative manufacturing process offers significant competitive advantages that will help the U.S. to out-innovate and out-compete our global competitors," said Secretary Chu [pictured]. "This project is part of our commitment to supporting important innovations that create jobs, strengthen our manufacturing base and position the nation as a global solar leader."

The project will manufacture solar silicon from lower-cost metallurgical-grade silicon feedstock that is then upgraded using Calisolar's proprietary silicon purification process. The company's unique process uses significantly less energy to produce solar silicon that performs as well as polysilicon products made from more expensive and energy-intensive traditional processes, with capital equipment and construction costs approximately one-sixth that of traditional polysilicon plants.

Calisolar is helping achieve the goals of the SunShot Initiative by lowering the cost of their solar cells through the use of less pure silicon, the raw material for solar cells. Their vertically integrated process -- from raw materials processing, all the way through solar cell production --uses lower-cost [50% less expensive], lower-quality materials while maintaining high-efficiency devices.

This work was supported by DOE through funding for the University of California at Berkeley, and through $3 million from the PV Incubator Program -- which leveraged $6.6 million in private-industry cost share and was run through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

DOE's Loan Programs Office administers three separate programs: the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing [ATVM] loan program. The loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies, along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. ATVM supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.

Under all three programs, DOE has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $33 billion to support 34 clean energy projects across the United States.

DOE has also issued conditional commitments or loan guarantees to support numerous other projects -- including four of the world's largest solar generation facilities, two geothermal projects, the world's largest wind farm, and the nation's first new nuclear power plant in three decades.

For more information, please visit the Loan Programs Office website: http://lpo.energy.gov/.

GoodBiz113's Take
DOE's just-announced investment in Calisolar Inc. has great potential to boost America's competitiveness in solar energy. Further, it will help generate much-needed manufacturing and construction jobs in Ohio.

Chalk it up as yet another win-win endeavor by the Obama Administration to simultaneously spur economic development and fuel advances in developing solar-energy technologies.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy [EERE]

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Department of Energy Announces Up to $36 Million to Support Development of Drop-In Biofuels and Bioproducts

As part of the Obama Administration's efforts to cut foreign oil imports, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced up to $36 million to fund six small-scale projects -- in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin -- to advance the technology improvements and process integration needed to produce drop-in advanced biofuels and other valuable bio-based chemicals.

The projects aim to improve the economics and efficiency of biological and chemical processes that convert non-food biomass feedstocks into replacements for petroleum-based feedstocks, products, and fuels. These selections further the Obama Administration's strategy for accelerating research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and diversify our nation's energy portfolio.

"Projects such as these are helping us to diversify our energy portfolio and decrease our dependence on foreign oil," said Secretary Chu [pictured]. "Together with our partners, the Department is working hard to expand the clean-energy economy, creating jobs in America and providing sustainable replacements for the fuels and products now provided primarily by petroleum."

The funding announced today will help diversify DOE's Biomass Program portfolio to include a breadth of fuels and chemicals beyond cellulosic ethanol and ensure that the Department's research and development on biofuels remains integrated and strategic.

The following projects were selected:

* General Atomics Fusion Energy Research [up to $2.0 million -- San Diego, Cal.]: The proposed project aims to reduce energy, capital, and operational cost for algal fermentation processes. This will increase production of algal oils, which can be further refined into advanced biofuels.

* Genomatica Inc. [up to $5.0 million -- San Diego, Cal.]: This project will deliver an engineered organism and optimized fermentation process to enable the conversion of cellulosic sugars to the valuable industrial chemical, 1,4-butanediol [BDO]. Such technology will enhance the commercial profitability of integrated biorefineries by enabling co-production of high-volume fuels and the higher-margin commodity chemical, BDO.

* Michigan Biotechnology Institute -- AKA MBI International [up to $4.3 million -- Lansing, Mich.]: The project will focus on improvements to a pretreatment process, which provides a stable, conversion-ready intermediate of consistent quality at a cost and in a format compatible with long-term storage and ease of transfer between multiple modes of transportation.

* HCL CleanTech Inc. [up to $9.0 million -- Oxford, N.C.]: This project will develop and demonstrate process improvements for pretreatment, conversion to sugars, and subsequent conversion of those sugars to fuels. The complete integrated process will use concentrated hydrochloric acid hydrolysis to convert pre-extracted biomass feedstocks, including wood waste, into fermentable sugars, and then further convert the sugars into diesel products.

* Texas Engineering Experiment Station [up to $2.3 million -- College Station, Tex.]: The focus of this project will be on developing a novel pretreatment for cellulosic biomass feedstocks using a combination of chemical and mechanical processing. Once the cellulosic feedstock has been pretreated it can be converted into biofuels, including hydrocarbons.

* Virent Energy Systems Inc. [up to $13.4 million -- Madison, Wis.]: The overarching objective of this project is to develop a fully integrated process that can efficiently and cost effectively convert a cellulosic biomass feedstock, such as corn stover, to a mix of hydrocarbons ideally suited for blending into jet fuel.

Final funding amounts are subject to negotiation.

About DOE's Biomass Program
DOE's Biomass Program works with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.

For more information on DOE's Biomass Program, visit the Biomass Program website: http://1.usa.gov/BiomassEERE.

GoodBiz113's Take
DOE's just-announced Biomass Program investments will boost American competitiveness in the biofuels industry and lower the cost of clean, renewable energy. Further, they'll generate much-needed jobs.

Chalk it up as yet another win-win endeavor by the Obama Administration -- one that holds far-reaching potential for decades to come.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy [EERE]

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Landrieu Votes Against Snowe Regulatory Amendment, Citing Lack of Congressional Review

Today, United States Sen. Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured], chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, voted against a regulatory reform amendment by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe [R-Maine], ranking member of the Small Business Committee.

The Freedom from Restrictive Excessive Executive Demands and Onerous Mandates Act of 2011, S. AMDT 390, reforms the regulatory process to ensure that small businesses are free to compete and to create jobs, and for other purposes. It was opposed by numerous Senate committees because of the lack of congressional input in the ongoing efforts to provide regulatory relief for small businesses.

"Every day, small-business owners come to my office asking for regulatory relief, and I am committed to removing unnecessary burdens that get in the way of the day-to-day operations of businesses," said Landrieu. "This amendment, however, has yet to have a single Congressional hearing. Because Sen. Snowe’s amendment reaches so far outside of the realm of small business, it seems irresponsible for us to move forward unless it goes through the entire process.

"There have been at least four other regulatory reform bills filed this Congress, and I know the chair of the committee of jurisdiction is doing everything he can to schedule a full hearing in the near future.

"I recognize that some federal regulations are a burden on small businesses. I agree it is important to streamline them -- but there is a time and a place to deal with that issue.

"I have tried to be helpful to my colleague. Last summer, when the Small Business Jobs Act was pending here in the Senate, I personally worked with my ranking member to include several of her provisions on regulatory relief into that bill, now law."

Snowe filed a similar amendment to S. 493, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011. During negotiations of S. 493, Landrieu offered to hold a hearing on Sen. Snowe’s regulatory reform amendment through the Small Business Committee, but Snowe declined. After five weeks of debate and 150 filed amendments, efforts to end debate and pass the long-term reauthorization of this important small-business program failed.

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

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Artist George Rodrigue Creates Latest Painting in Front of Audience at Alexandria Museum of Art

As temperatures climb toward 100 degrees [yes, even here on the "Minnesota tundra"], we've just learned that GoodBiz113 profilee George Rodrigue ["Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans"] has created a most timely painting, "100 Degrees Hot This Summer" [pictured].

Measuring 48x36, the acrylic on canvas work was created last weekend in front of an audience at Louisiana's historic Alexandria Museum of Art, where the featured George Rodrigue: Saga of the Acadians exhibition runs through July 1.

For a compelling account of this uncharacteristic painting demonstration, read the latest post on "Musings of an Artist's Wife," Wendy Rodrigue's blog: http://bit.ly/100DegreesHot.

Oh, and to catch up on the latest developments about the dynamic George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts: Youth Development Through Art in Education, go to: http://bit.ly/RodrigueFoundation.

SOURCES: Musings of an Artist's Wife, Rodrigue Studio

Suggested Reading: "The Art of George Rodrigue" ^AF

SBA's Free Online Tool Helps Small Businesses Develop an Export Business Plan

Small businesses interested in starting or expanding sales of their goods and services overseas now have access to a new, free online tool that will gauge their readiness to export and help them develop an export business plan.

The Export Business Planner, developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers a ready-made, customizable and easily accessible document that can be updated and referenced continuously as the business grows.

The Planner, located at www.sba.gov/exportbusinessplanner, allows users to:
* Determine their export readiness;
* Learn about training and counseling opportunities;
* Complete worksheets for global market research;
* Obtain financing information and options;
* Customize export marketing plans, and;
* Access resources for exporters

"Creating jobs through exporting is one of the nation’s top economic priorities, as the President indicated when he launched the National Export Initiative," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills [pictured]. "Giving exporters the tools to do their part in this effort is essential. The new Export Business Planner is one such tool and will serve businesses in the critical process of planning for their success."

The Planner is a PDF file that can be easily downloaded, accessed, customized and updated every time you use it. It features an extensive compilation of export research and information -- including quick links to websites, video profiles, training podcasts, trade statistics, contact information to counseling resources such as SCORE and SBDCs, a list of current SBA lenders, plus much more.

The tool is organized in comprehensive chapters that are cross-linked and indexed for efficiency and easy access to related topics.

The chapters include:
* Introduction to Exporting
* Training and Counseling
* Getting Started: Creating an Export Business Plan
* Developing your Marketing plan
* Financing your Export Venture
* Accounting Worksheets: Costing, Financial Forecasting and Product Pricing
* Utilizing Technology for Successful Exporting
* Your New Marketing Plan: Summary, Timeline
* Updates, Transportation and Documentation

A distinct and very useful feature of the Planner is the customizable worksheets. These documents provide templates for developing your export business plan; conducting business assessments and foreign market research; creating your marketing plan; costing and sale projections; goal-setting; and much more.

Additional SBA Programs Available
For more information about all of the SBA’s programs for small businesses, call the SBA Answer Desk at 1-800 U ASK SBA; or, TDD 704-344-6640. Or, visit the SBA’s website at http://www.sba.gov.

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

Business Proposals: It’s All About Trust. ^AF

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Business Community Launches Support for Missouri Disaster

Though survivors of the deadly May 22 tornadoes in Joplin have lost much, one company seeks to ease their burden by providing self-service storage services. A community partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], U-Haul Co. of Missouri offers 30 days of free storage to tornado survivors in Joplin.

U-Box Portable Storage units can be delivered to the customer’s location or may be picked up at the U-Haul store located at 2521 E. 7th St., Joplin, Mo., according to Kevin Neighbors, president of U-Haul Co. of Missouri.

Once filled, the company will store the 280-square-foot containers in its secure warehouse or deliver containers to a site of the customer’s choice, Neighbors explained. For the cost of delivery from Springfield, the company will provide the storage services for 30 days, free of charge.

Additionally, the company offers its Take-a-Box, Leave-a-Box program to survivors. Customers may return reusable boxes and take others as needed at no cost. Neighbors encourages those with any type of reusable box to drop it off at the nearest U-Haul location for re-use by others.

"U-Haul’s survivor program is a fine example of FEMA working with its community partners,” explained Libby Turner, FEMA federal coordinating officer for the Missouri disaster. "FEMA intergovernmental specialists are working right alongside Joplin business partners as part of a team effort toward Joplin’s recovery."

"The intense tornadoes have caused a tremendous amount of damage to the communities we serve," Neighbors said. "I hope this effort will help provide assistance to families that need support. We will do our best to help our friends and neighbors in this time of need."

For more information, call U-Haul Co. of Missouri at 1-800-255-5953.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward; GoodBiz113 Ramping Up to Showcase Increased Number of Win-Win Small-Business Partnerships, Democratic Policies

As Memorial Day weekend winds down and today's hot Minnesota breezes beckon summer, we're making time to reflect on GoodBiz113's just-shy-of-five-years history.

Looking Back...
In September 2006, we launched GoodBiz113 with three objectives in mind:

1] To provide well-deserved attention to otherwise-unsung small businesses that forge innovative and socially conscious partnerships with nonprofits and/or public agencies to benefit the greater good -- and, hopefully, inspire *other* businesses both large and small to take positive social action in their corners of the Universe;

2] To cast a light on Democrats who are committed to advancing policies that genuinely promote entrepreneurship, job creation and economic recovery -- e.g., Sen. John Kerry [D-Mass.], then-Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar [D-Minn.]; and

3] To present practices and tips to help small-business owners maximize their resources -- e.g., time, energy, people, money.

Since our September 2006 launch, GoodBiz113 has showcased several socially responsible small-business partnerships, policies and practices.

We've featured businesses from coast to coast, and each enterprise has benefited from the far-reaching PR and Internet exposure -- when their profile initially posted, and in assorted follow-ups; e.g., announcing new products, services, synergies, special events.

Among the win-win partnerships we've featured thus far on a pro bono basis:

* "Minnesota Artisans Mobilize Community to Create 9/11 Stained-Glass Memorial Window: Part 1"
* "Minnesota Artisans Mobilize Community to Create 9/11 Stained-Glass Memorial Window: Part 2"
* "Louisiana Artist Brings Post-Katrina [Blue Dog] Relief to New Orleans"
* "Recycline-Stonyfield Farm Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other" [NOTE: We scooped Inc. Magazine on this one!]
* "Alexis Bailly Vineyard Helps U of M Cultivate Wine Industry in Minnesota, 'Where the Grapes Can Suffer'"
* "Life is good® Festivals Unite Communities, Help Kids Face Unfair Challenges"
* "Cuisine Concepts at Heart of Taste of the NFL -- AKA 'Super Bowl Party...With a Purpose' -- to Tackle Hunger in America"
* "South Cone's Sustainable Furniture-Making Serves Growing Consumer Demand; Activism at Seat of New Global Council"
* "Kessler's Helps Feed Storybook Land's Win-Win-Win Growth in Aberdeen, S.D."
* "Verve Inc. Puts Sustainable Bite on All-Natural Chewing Gum and Educational Candy-Making Kits for Kids"
* "Fairview Southdale Hospital Library Invites Employees, Patients and Community to Meet Local Authors; Suspense Writer Brian Freeman Presents on Jan. 22"

We've also shed a positive light on what President Barack Obama, SBA Administrator Karen Mills, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu [D-La.], U.S. Sen. Al Franken [D-Minn.] and other Democrats are doing to promote entrepreneurship and job creation; e.g., Startup America.

Occasionally, we've also mentioned what a too-small handful of exemplary Republicans -- e.g., Olympia Snowe [R-Maine] -- are doing to serve the best interests of small businesses. [Use the handy-dandy Google Search box, above, to research and track our posts.]

Looking Forward...
Now, as both the weather and, yes, the critical 2012 political season begin to heat up, we're preparing to ramp up our reporting about small-business synergies, as well as about the current and would-be Democratic elected officials who purport to be friendly to the diverse small-business community; e.g., artists, consultants, "solopreneurs," Main Street Mom-and-Pop retailers.

Heretofore, our parent company, YAWP! Media, has bootstrapped GoodBiz113's publishing endeavors entirely in-house. Now, we aim to fuel our enhanced reporting via crowd funding, defined by Wikipedia as "the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations."

We have other seasoned writers and social media experts at the ready to begin tackling our backlog of small-biz synergy profiles, as well as ongoing developments in the policy arena. These professionals deserve to do good work, and they deserve decent compensation to exercise their wealth of talents and insights.

Ramping Up GoodBiz113
We need $20,000 in order to make that happen for far-reaching, win-win good.

If you'd like to support socially responsible small-business partnerships, as well as the policies and practices that fuel entrepreneurial growth, make your pledge today at our Kapipal page -- http://bit.ly/RampUpGoodBiz113 -- by choosing one of the following categories...**

Small-Business Friend: If you pledge $25, you'll be kept apprised of GoodBiz113-related developments; e.g, new profiles.

Small-Business Ally: If you pledge $100, you get the above -- plus name recognition on GoodBiz113.

Small-Business Fan: If you pledge $500, you get all of the above -- plus, we'll post a live link from GoodBiz113 to your website AND we'll distribute an SEO'd press release announcing your support of GoodBiz113’s ramp-up.

PLEDGE $1,000
Small-Business Cheerleader: If you pledge $1,000, you get all of the above -- plus, we'll feature ONE small-biz partnership of your choice; e.g., your own, one of your current or would-be clients/customers. This original SEO-optimized profile will be in a reader-friendly Q&A format *and* include a live link to your website, as well as to the websites of the small business and its partner[s].

PLEDGE $2,000
Small-Business Champion: If you pledge $2,000, you get all of the above -- plus, through 2012, we'll place a 220x110 banner ad in the right column of GoodBiz113 for you to display your logo; you supply the HTML code. We'll also feature TWO small-biz synergies of your choice.

Sponsorship Packages & Offline Pledge Options Available, Too
Besides doing crowd funding via Kapipal, GoodBiz113 is also offering win-win sponsorship packages to individuals and organizations that would like to showcase *several* small-business partnerships on GoodBiz113 through 2012. [NOTE: This is another great opportunity for professionals, prime contractors, VCs and other small-biz stakeholders to provide value-added PR to their clients, vendors, suppliers, etc.]

For details about sponsorship packages and/or making pledges offline, e-mail GoodBiz113 [at] gmail.com.

Thanks, in advance, for supporting GoodBiz113's [near] tireless efforts to promote entrepreneurship, job creation, economic recovery, and the dedicated politicos working on behalf of our dynamic small-biz community -- truly the backbone of our economy.

**Businesses, take note: Come tax time, you should be able to deduct your pledge as an advertising expense. Ask your accountant.

SOURCES: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Small Business Administration, The White House, Wikipedia

Be Part of GoodBiz113's Ramp-Up Phase -- for Win-Win Good! Pledge Today: http://bit.ly/RampUpGoodBiz113

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sens. Landrieu, Snowe Honor Entrepreneurial Spirit in America

Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution introduced by Senators Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured] and Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, respectively, highlighting the critical role that small businesses play in our nation’s economy.

The President signed a proclamation declaring the week of May 15, 2011, as National Small Business Week, honoring our country’s 27.2 million small businesses, and the owners and employees of these firms.

"During National Small Business Week, we honor the nation’s small businesses and entrepreneurs who take risks and start their own businesses," said Landrieu. "It has been a challenging, exciting and, in some ways, promising two years for small businesses, but our work in Congress cannot stop.

"America’s entrepreneurs deserve the recognition of our nation and need the support of Congress to boost job creation and economic growth. As we reflect on the contribution small businesses have made to our economy, I encourage all Americans to celebrate entrepreneurs across America and take a moment to visit your town’s small businesses.”

"National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the extraordinary contributions that small businesses make to the health and vitality of our economy," Snowe noted. "With nearly 30 million small businesses nationwide -- and 150,000 in Maine alone -- these firms are the engines of our economy, and our lifeline to emerge from this economic downturn.

"I hope my colleagues in Congress will join me in celebrating small businesses every week of the year, by reflecting on the countless contributions these firms make to our nation, and focusing on initiatives that enhance -- not inhibit -- their ability to prosper, innovate and create well-paying jobs for Americans."

National Small Business Week Marks 48 Years
Every year since 1963, the President has recognized entrepreneurs by proclaiming National Small Business Week. This resolution expresses the Senate’s appreciation of the efforts and achievements on the part of small-business owners and employees, whose hard work and commitment to excellence have made these firms a key part of the economic vitality of the United States.

According to the Small Business Administration, small firms constitute 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers, and account for roughly half of the nation’s private-sector jobs.

To see the complete resolution, please click here.

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

Business Proposals: It’s All About Trust. ^AF

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SBA Introduces New Mobile Application for Small-Business Owners, Entrepreneurs

Smartphone users interested in starting or growing a small business can now find helpful resources at their fingertips via a new SBA mobile application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"Increasingly, smartphones are the vehicle through which Americans access information," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "This is certainly true of many entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and this new application ensures they will have access to SBA’s resources and programs -- literally, at their fingertips.

"Greater mobility fits with the new user-focused SBA.gov launched recently, and is another example of the steps we are taking to do a better job of connecting entrepreneurs and small-business owners with the tools to help them start or grow their businesses and create jobs."

Developed and donated as a gift by Palo Alto Software Inc., the SBA mobile app will make the search for extensive resources more efficient -- whether users are starting a new business, or taking an existing business to a new level. The app will first be available for the Apple iPhone®, with future versions for other smartphone platforms.

"Palo Alto Software’s mission is to help small businesses succeed," said Sabrina Parsons [pictured], CEO of Palo Alto Software. "We’ve developed this mobile application for the SBA because we understand the importance of having the right tools and resources when starting or growing a business.

"Ideas can strike entrepreneurs at any moment, and having useful resources available through mobile devices could be the impetus that begins the next big company."

The mobile app will help users connect with SBA district office staff and SBA-affiliated counselors and mentors who can provide free, personalized small-business assistance. The user-friendly format of the app will help answer questions such as: How do I start a business? Where can I go in my area to get free help with writing a business plan? And where do I begin finding funding for my business?

The SBA mobile app also features a built-in startup cost calculator to help estimate the costs associated with getting a business off the ground, plus an SBA partner locator to help users find SBA offices, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE.

Users will also have mobile access to SBA video content and social media alerts to provide them with tips on the go. This will include live updates from the SBA’s YouTube channel and from SBA’s Twitter feeds.

SBA's free mobile app can be downloaded from the agency’s website at http://1.usa.gov/MobileSBA.

SOURCES: Palo Alto Software Inc. [photo], U.S. Small Business Administration


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Monday, May 23, 2011

FEMA: Throwing Away an SBA Application Is Like Throwing Away Money

One of the most important messages that state and federal officials would like to share with homeowners, renters and business owners in the Mississippi counties that are recovering from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding of April, as well as the flooding of the Mississippi River and its tributaries in May, is fill out and return your U.S. Small Business Administration application. Don't throw it away!

After an applicant registers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they may receive a loan application package from the SBA. Typically, people may think that the loans are only for businesses, or they simply do not want to take out a low-interest disaster loan. So, they may push the SBA documents to the side or, possibly, discard them.

"This is where people tend to take themselves out of the process," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack [pictured]. "If they don't complete the SBA paperwork, they could miss out on all the FEMA aid they may qualify for."

Applicants Should Know:
* Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair/replace real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair/replace personal property. Most interest rates for residents are below three percent, with terms as long as 30 years. Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size can borrow up to $2 million -- at an interest rate as low as four percent -- to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets, as well as to cover economic injury.

* Filling out the SBA application is a necessary step to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance. Applicants may be eligible for more aid.

* If SBA is unable to approve a home loan, the applicant may be referred back to FEMA for some other disaster aid. Applicants may be awarded assistance for personal items, repair or replacement of a vehicle, etc.

Residents of 40 Counties Eligible to Register for Assistance
A major disaster declaration was approved by President Obama on May 11 for the Mississippi flooding that began May 3. Under this declaration, the following 14 counties are authorized to receive aid under FEMA's Individual Assistance Program: Adams, Bolivar, Claiborne, Coahoma, DeSoto, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Sharkey, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Wilkinson and Yazoo.

Under a previous disaster declaration, federal funding is also available to eligible individuals impacted by the April tornadoes and storms in these 29 counties: Alcorn, Attala, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Webster, and Winston.

As a result of the two declarations, residents in 40 Mississippi counties are eligible for Individual Assistance. Coahoma, DeSoto, and Tunica counties are eligible for Individual Assistance under both declarations.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the newly authorized counties, as well as those in counties previously authorized for Individual Assistance, can register by calling 800-621-FEMA [3362]; or, for those with speech or hearing impairment, TTY 800-462-7585. These toll-free telephone numbers will operate 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. seven days a week. Disaster survivors also can register by going online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or on the Smartphone mobile website m.fema.gov.

SBA representatives at each DRC will assist in completing loan applications, accept loan applications, and answer questions about the application process.

Questions can also be answered by calling the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, or 800-877-8339 TTY for people with speech or hearing disabilities. The lines will operate Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m CDT.

Help also is available by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or online at www.sba.gov.

Those affected by these disasters also can fill out a loan application by visiting SBA's secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

SOURCES: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency [file photo], U.S. Small Business Administration

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Stonyfield Farm Welcomes New Spring Life on Its Family Farms

This just in from GoodBiz113 profilee Stonyfield Farm ["Recycline-Stonyfield Farm Partnership Milks Resources to Benefit the Environment, Consumers and Each Other"]...

While the pastures are turning greener every day, new life is springing up all over the certified Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative family farms that supply milk for the company's yogurts and smoothies.

Check out Winona, pictured above, a new heifer calf born to Willa on the Howmars Farm nearly 10 months ago. Both have joined Stonyfield Farm's Have-a-Cow herd.

Learn about Winona here: http://bit.ly/WinonaSF.

To read about Willa, Winona's mom, go here: http://bit.ly/WillaSF.

Howmars Farm has been in the family for three generations, since 1943. To learn more, go to: http://bit.ly/HowmarsFarmSF.