Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New York State Directory of Small Business Programs

This may be a directory to help small business access valuable resources, but it's also a useful tool for those advising small businesses.

It includes:
*information resources (OPAL, Healthy NY, Guide to Sales Tax in New York, etc.)
*technical assistance (environmental ombudperson, Workers' Comp, etc.)
*funding incentives (general, environmental, minority/women/disadvantaged, tax incentives)
*industry-specific programs
*workforce recruitment, development, and benefits
*government contracts/market expansion
*mandated state filings

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pricing Used Merchandise

A new website is aiming to make it easier to price used merchandise. According to The New York Times, Worth Monkey aims to be the Blue Book for used anything, says co-founder Fred Abler. When a user enters a certain good at the site, the site combs the Web (eBay, Amazon.com, Google) for asking and actual prices for that used good, combines that data with information about broader category trends and statistical analysis and then presents the user with details about a great price, a fair price and an overpriced price for that good as well as pricing information for comparable products. Users can also enter their own thoughts about what the item is worth, which then helps inform future site results.

Currently, the site provides such data about millions of products in 10 different industries, including vehicles, electronics and musical instruments. Once users have the fair market value, they can “use that as the basis for negotiation, and we just take a little bit of the friction out of re-commerce,” Mr. Abler said.

The site is free for consumers and eventually, the founders plan to release a subscription offering with added features. The site also collects affiliate advertising revenue when users click on the comparable products whose pricing data it provides. Those selling goods can also embed WorthMonkey seals into their ads to show where they got their pricing information. All in all, an incredibly useful site.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CCC Copyright Video

Here is Copyright Clearance Center’s new animated video concerning academic copyright. The video educates people, specifically faculty, about copyright laws when distributing materials to students, via course packs or readings uploaded online.

Monday, February 14, 2011

EBRI blog

Employee Benefit Research Institute - "EBRI is the only private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, Washington, DC-based organization committed exclusively to public policy research and education on economic security and employee benefit issues." Here is its blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Laws of New York

When searching to rules, regulations, permits, and licensing information, the first place to look is New York State's Online Permit Assistance and Licensing website. Sometimes, the helpful information provided will tell the searcher to look up legislation that is available through Laws of New York. If no information in provided in OPAL, sometimes searching Laws of New York will yield results previously undiscovered. Ultimately, it is always a good idea to search both sites for the most comprehensive results.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dumb Customer Service, Part 237

My family stayed in a chain hotel in a southern city recently. It was reasonably nice, especially for the price, but a couple things bugged me:

1. There was something called the "business center" which was comprised of one computer, with a printer behind the registration desk that was hit or miss.

2. Checkout was a 12 noon. We went downstairs for the complimentary breakfast, returning about 9 a.m. we packed, then my wife decided to let the daughter have a chance to use the pool. I went to get a cart to haul the luggage. When I got back to the room, around 11:15, my room key didn't work. I thought it somehow got demagnetized, so I went down to get my wife's key; that didn't work, either. So I went to the front desk. Apparently it is a regular issue that the keys time out at some point before the checkout time. This is an absurd system, which wasted a good 10 minutes of my time.

Friday, February 04, 2011

SBA Re-launches Dealer Floor Plan Pilot Loan Program

A pilot loan program aimed at increasing access to inventory financing for auto, boat, RV and other dealerships will be re-launched Tuesday (2/8) and will be effective through Sept. 30, 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today.

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 included a provision for re-launching SBA’s Dealer Floor Plan (DFP) Pilot Loan program, which first became available in July 2009. The pilot is part of the SBA’s overall 7(a) loan guarantee program. The Jobs Act also increased the maximum size for 7(a) loans to $5 million, up from $2 million, which includes loans made through the DFP pilot program.

“As a result of the credit crunch in late 2008 and early 2009, dealerships saw a significant decline in the availability of this type of inventory financing,” SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns said. “SBA’s original DFP pilot program was launched as a way to expand the availability of floor plan financing and the Jobs Act added further enhancements to that program, including allowing for larger loan sizes.

“Dealerships are a cornerstone of local business communities,” Johns continued. “As we continue to see our economy recover, the re-launch of this pilot provides another tool, alongside SBA’s other programs, to help them succeed and create jobs in their local communities.”

The rules and regulations for the pilot will be available Tuesday on the website of The Federal Register, and in print editions on Wednesday. A procedural guide to the program will be posted on the SBA website at: http://www.sba.gov/content/dealer-floor-plan-financing-program-0.

Floor plan financing is a revolving line of credit that allows a dealership to obtain financing through SBA’s 7(a) program for inventory that can be titled, such as autos, RVs, manufactured homes, boats and trailers. As each piece of collateral is sold by the dealer, the loan advance against that piece of collateral is repaid. As the loan is repaid, the dealer can borrow against the line of credit to add new inventory.

The program is available to qualifying small businesses, including new and used automobile, motorcycle, RV, manufactured homes and boat dealers. SBA has issued a new maximum alternative size standard to allow businesses with $15 million net worth and $5 million in net income measured over two years to have access to the program.

All SBA-approved lenders may make DFP loans. Lenders with more than $1 billion of floor plan lines of credit in their current portfolios may apply for delegated authority, which would expedite the lending process.

Borrowers interested in obtaining a DFP loan should contact their lender or their nearest SBA field office to get a list of SBA-approved lenders in their area who may be participating in the program. Local district offices and contact information, as well as information on this and other SBA programs and resources, can be found at www.sba.gov or by calling the SBA Answer Desk at 1-800-U-ASK-SBA or TDD 704-344-6640.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The State of Small Business

The 2010 edition of The Small Business Economy documents the 2008 recession’s effects on small business as well as the changing economy at the end of 2009. In 2009, after weathering a deep recession that began in late 2007, the American economy began to stabilize. For small businesses, one of the biggest remaining challenges was the lack of sales adequate to grow employment. Many economic indicators began to show improvement by year’s end.

For example, in the first three quarters of 2009, small businesses accounted for almost 60 percent of the net job losses, with the greatest losses in the first quarter. By the third quarter, net small firm job losses were one-third what they had been in the first quarter. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other policy actions added between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent to real gross domestic product in fourth quarter 2009 and projected an employment increase of 1.0 million to 2.1 million more than it would have been without the stimulus. In the first half of 2009, as the economy continued to experience the challenges that began in the last two quarters of 2008, credit markets were constrained by both demand and supply factors. In the midst of a challenging year for small business owners, there was reason for optimism as commercial bank profitability improved and nominal interest rates remained low.

The research summary can be found HERE.