Archive for September, 2010


Good news for small businesses. President Obama has signed a bill that aims to help small businesses obtain the financing they need to grow.
The bill includes a series of small business proposals that the President put forth earlier this year, and small businesses will start benefiting from the bill on day one. Among the many important provisions in the bill, twelve of the top benefits to small businesses are:

Extension of Successful SBA Recovery Loan Provisions —Immediately Supporting Loans to Over 1,400 Small Businesses: With funds provided in the bill, SBA will begin funding new Recovery loans within a few days of the President’s signature, starting with the more than 1,400 businesses – with loans totaling more than $730 million – that are waiting in the Recovery Loan Queue. In total, the extension of these provisions provides the capacity to support $14 billion in loans to small businesses. The SBA Recovery loan provisions have already supported $30 billion in lending to over 70,000 small business.

Now this is important because small businesses produce most of the new jobs in this country.  They are the anchors of our Main Streets.  They are part of the promise of America – the idea that if you’ve got a dream and you’re willing to work hard, you can succeed.  That’s what leads a worker to leave a job to become her own boss.  That’s what propels a basement inventor to sell a new product – or an amateur chef to open a restaurant.  It’s this promise that has drawn millions to our shores and made our economy the envy of the world. —  President Obama

To read the other 11 benefits to the bill, click on the following link — White House Signing

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Construction industry continues to struggle

A recent report from the Association of General Contractors still shows tough going for the domestic construction industry.

56 OUT OF 337 METRO AREAS ADD CONSTRUCTION JOBS BETWEEN AUGUST 2009 & 2010, HIGHEST NUMBER ADDING JOBS SINCE SEPTEMBER 2008

Hanford-Corcoran, California and Kansas City, Kansas Top List of Metro Areas Adding Jobs while Chicago and Napa, California Lose Most Jobs for the Year

Construction employment expanded in 56 out of 337 metropolitan areas between August 2009 and August 2010 according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. More cities added construction jobs during the past year than at any point since September 2008, indicating that the worst of the industry’s job losses may be over, association officials noted.

“With construction employment on the mend in an increasing number of areas, it appears that the worst is finally over,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The fact remains, however, that this industry has a long way to go before we see construction employment back to pre-recession levels.”

Simonson noted that Kansas City, Kansas added more construction jobs (2,500 jobs, 13 percent) than any other metro area while Hanford-Corcoran, California added the highest percentage (22 percent, 200 jobs). Other areas adding jobs included Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2,000 jobs, 4 percent); Calvert-Charles-Prince Georges Counties, Maryland (1,200 jobs, 3 percent); Chattanooga, Tennessee (700 jobs, 8 percent); and Eau Claire, Wisconsin (600 jobs, 19 percent).

Simonson added that 245 metro areas lost construction jobs while construction employment was unchanged in another 36. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area lost more construction jobs (22,600 jobs, 16 percent) than any other metro area, even after a construction strike ended in July. Napa, California (900 jobs, 30 percent) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment included Las Vegas (13,500 jobs, 22 percent); Houston (11,200 jobs, 6 percent); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (9,100 jobs, 12 percent); and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California (8,500 jobs, 13 percent).

Association officials said that even as the employment outlook improves in a growing number of metropolitan areas, construction unemployment remains nearly double the national average. They added that Congress is now a year late in passing major highway and transit investment legislation as well as other key infrastructure bills. Federal inaction, combined with ongoing weak private, state and local demand will continue to undermine chances of a broader construction industry recovery, officials noted.

“The fact that the best news the industry has had in years is that we’re not losing jobs as fast as we were is a reflection of how hard hit construction has been during the downturn,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Too many construction workers remain unemployed while Congress lets long-delayed infrastructure legislation idle.”

The following is a pretty interesting report on the use of social media in the business world. I will excerpt from relevant parts. It was prepared by Ben Hanna, Ph.D., VP, Marketing, R.H. Donnelley Interactive

• Small business decision makers at business-to-business (B2B) companies use both significantly more social media resources for business than their business-to-consumer (B2C) colleagues and, with a single exception (reading ratings and reviews of business products and services) are significantly more likely to use each of the business social media resources investigated in this study.
• A cross-sectional look at business social media usage by small business decision makers with different degrees of experience using social media provides insights into how social media usage is likely to evolve in the future.

When it comes to using social media as a resource for business information, small business decision makers in the Industrial Goods & Services industry are no different from the average across all other industries. While a higher percentage of respondents from this industry reported reading user ratings and reviews for business products and services, visiting company/product profiles on social networking sites, and visiting company blogs than the overall top activity (attending webinars or listening to podcasts), these were not significant differences from the average respondent.

I will be excerpting and posting more information, as well as my own personal analysis, over the next several days.

An interesting article by an avid user of Linked In. Jorgen Sundberg sketches out steps that companies/people should take to promote their Linked In site. The steps are now big, but can boost your status on the google search engines. Read the whole article at the following link — http://tiny.cc/6y1o9

Coming back from a recent commodity-based conference, the consensus seems to be that many sectors of the economy are showing some signs of improvement, albeit in muted form. Manufacturing growth is being seen with many subsectors of the transportation industry, including heavy equipment, rail transportation, and even auto. Also showing some positives are the HVAC markets and manufacturing for the alternative energy sector.

What also is benefiting from the upswing in some manufacturing sectors are commodities such as copper, nickel, aluminum and even steel.  As a side note, there is starting to be quite a bit of talk about the introduction of an aluminum ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). If this happens, you might see a jump in prices for aluminum.

On the downside, these same economists see nothing but more bleakness in both residential and commercial real estate market.  No matter how you look at it, the construction sector is a big anchor weighing on the economy.

Our staff will be trying to publish interesting information on various ways that small and mid-sized companies can grow their business.