Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting Small Businesses Past Disasters

You are all aware of the rough weather we have had lately. In reviewing weather data from November 14th through November 23rd, there is a potential for requesting an Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program for those businesses who have been hit hard by the storms.

From past conversations with the SBA we know the following.

The State of WA only needs to submit a minimum of five EIDL worksheets for the state demonstrating substantial economic injury to meet SBA’s EIDL declaration criteria. We will need at least one worksheet for each county that the State requests to be declared. In addition to the primary counties that SBA may declare, the contiguous counties would also be eligible.

Two documents to help you during this process. 1) The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) FAQ sheet; 2) Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet for Businesses.

Now what do you need to do? Did you have roads closed that stopped people from getting to your business? How about the ferry that had to stop operation during the Gale force weather and you lost customers during that period? Or did the power outage stop you from even opening your door? This is economic injury! Fill out the form!

NOTE: Do not send the forms to the Washington Emergency Management Department. Doing so removes you from the information process and you may become unaware of what is happening.

Do send the forms to:
Rob Allen,
Pierce County Economic Development Department

The stronger we make our case to the SBA, the better it is for everyone. Remember, at least five businesses must complete the worksheet in order to request the program. Please note, the worksheets simply help establish that an economic injury has occurred. In no way does this mean that the business completing the form is applying for or is obligated in the future to apply for an SBA loan.

Here is some language from the federal rules regarding this program:

SBA makes an economic injury declaration in reliance on a state certification that at least 5 small business concerns in a disaster area have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster and are in need of financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms. The state certification must be signed by the Governor, must specify the county or counties or other political subdivisions in which the disaster occurred, and must be delivered (with supporting documentation) to the servicing SBA Disaster Area Office within 120 days of the disaster occurrence. The SBA Administrator may, in a case of undue hardship, accept such a request after 120 days have expired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Unleashing Your Business Potential"

Small businesses and minority-owned businesses in the South Sound can benefit from the University of Puget Sound expo - "Unleashing your business potential." Lenders, business consultants, government agencies and non-profit organizations will offer information and advice to help you start and grow your business. This is a FREE event.

Saturday, November 21, 9:00 am to Noon
University of Puget Sound's Rasmussen Rotunda in the Wheelock Student Center. Click here for map.

For more information click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tacoma Metro Rates a B++

The Milken Institute & Greetstreet Real Estate Partners has just published their 2009 Best Performing Cities annual report of the largest 200 metros. Their criteria focuses most on job creation and sustainability.

Texas lead states with the largest number of best performing cities, with four of the top five spots. Much of their showing was because they missed the housing boom/bust and weren't tied to trade.

Washington did fairly well, with two cities in the top 20. Olympia ranked as #7, because of its role as state capital (government employment) and Seattle ranked as #17, because of the strength of the tech sector. Even among the top rankings, it was often a case of who lost least.

Tacoma fell 13 positions (and was nowhere near the biggest losers or lowest ranked) to rank #21 nationally, primarily because of the fall-off in international trade, a trait shared around the nation among port cities. Tacoma was lauded for its wages & salaries growth momentum, Boeing and Intel and as an economical alternative to Seattle. The military was cited as providing stability to the region.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Businesses on the Web - Or Should Be?

Small businesses can thank Tacoman Scott Loughran for a better understanding of small businesses and their use of the web for marketing.

Loughran is in the Masters in Communications and Digital Media program at the University of Washington. His project, only available for a few days, is open to you.

Loughran is studying digital media and communications. You can learn more about the program here. The Flip the Media blog (work of the faculty and students here) is also a great resource for the Chamber and those businesses we serve.

Loughran's research is specifically investigating if micro (0-4 employees) & small businesses (5-25 employees) have websites, and if so, how they are using them to communicate and market their goods and services. His theory is that these businesses strongly rely on hiring out the construction of websites, and may not understand how popular tools like social media, blogging and pod casting could help customer retention and word-of-mouth advertising (the two most trustworthy forms of business growth to this sector.)

He hopes his research will accomplish two things:

First, consumers who want to shop local, some reports say 90% of them have started by searching for local businesses online. Other reports are saying that as little as 44% of micro/small businesses even have a website. With the health of our local economy largely being supported by the success of local business, we need to find a way to close this statistical gap.

Second, there are people in the community wanting to help local businesses. If we find there is enough of a need in the community, we can educate local businesses how this technology is beneficial to business. This could be through the Chamber for example, as a workshop, in service or part of a regular meeting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Big Business of Small Business Exporting

Mike Cave, president elect of Boeing Capital Corp. and a senior vice president of The Boeing Company, will talk to Washington state small businesses about expanding sales and creating U.S. jobs through exports at a half-day seminar Nov. 17 organized by six federal agencies at the Washington State & Convention Center in Seattle.

As America’s largest exporter, Boeing employs tens of thousands of skilled U.S. workers at its facilities and supports jobs indirectly at thousands of small- and mid-sized Boeing suppliers around the country, said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), one of the six sponsoring agencies of the seminar. We are delighted to have Mike Cave share with seminar attendees his insights gained through a successful career exporting quality American-made technology to the world’s markets.

Cave, the designated successor to Boeing Capital President Walt Skowronski beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, is a keynote speaker at Exports Live! Real Deals, Real Profits, an eight-city seminar series. The seminars share strategies and resources used by local small and medium-size businesses that already have discovered how to increase profitability through exporting.

Feature presentations and Q&A sessions will involve successful small-business exporters that have benefited from government export services and solutions. Presenting regional companies include Response Associates, Global Remote Sensing, Seattle Safety, and E-3 Energy.

Representatives of the government organizations providing these export services also are on the program and available later in the day to offer one-on-one consultations. Leading the meeting will be the heads of Ex-Im Bank, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Seattle seminar follows events in New York, Boston, Miami, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and precedes a similar session in Detroit (Dec. 11). About 1,000 small businesses, lenders, brokers and trade specialists have attended the first five seminars.

Cave is a 26-year company veteran. Before assuming his current position as president elect of Boeing Capital Corp. in October, 2009, he was senior vice president of Business Development and Strategy for The Boeing Company. Boeing Capital is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and is responsible for arranging, structuring and providing financing for Boeing’s products.

For more information and to register for the nearest seminar, click “Exports Live! or call toll-free 1-(888) 966-2009. Please note that space is limited.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

General Elections Are Finally Here!

The business community is waiting with great anticipation as ballots will be counted and the numbers will be released later tonight from the Pierce County Auditor’s office.

This year’s elections will impact business at the local level. Specifically, a majority of the Tacoma City Council is up for election and there is the potential for five brand new members depending on whether Strickland and/or Anderson are elected to other offices.

Propositions on the Pierce County ballot will determine whether incumbents on the Pierce County council will be allowed to seek an additional term of service. If not, five new positions will open up on the Pierce County council over the next three years which could produce uncertainty about the direction of the county and its legislative body.

This election will also determine whether the county’s controversial and expensive ranked choice voting system will remain in place. A majority of the Port of Tacoma Commissioners’ seats are up for consideration and election night will certainly lead to the selection of a brand new Port Commissioner (Ted Bottiger’s open seat will go to Don Meyer or Cathy Pearsall-Stipek).

Regardless of the scenario, Chamber members will be able to rely on the Chamber’s organization for enhancing relationships with these elected officials and at all levels of government.

The first election results will be available around 8:45 p.m. tonight at the Pierce County Auditor’s website.

Author: Mike Weinman