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December 31, 2004

Nonprofit Looking To Form Insurance Pool To Aid New Hampshire Small Businesses

In what could be a fast growing trend across the nation, the Purchasing Alliance of New Hampshire (a nonprofit formed by the Claremont Chamber of Commerce) is looking to reduce the costs of health insurance to small businesses by selling insurance to its members at a reduced rate gained through the formation of an insurance pool. If successful, this proactive attempt to form an insurance pool may develop an avenue for small businesses to curb rising health insurance costs without having to rely on the federal government's passage of AHP's.

The Purchasing Alliance of New Hampshire hopes to have 10,000 members as part of its alliance. They hope that an association with these numbers will allow them to obtain quantity discounts when purchasing health insurance. The Alliance is still in the early stages of research and planning but they hope to have the ability to write policies by May (they applied to the state fir a license to sell insurance in mid-November).

The story is from The Eagle Times, Claremont, New Hampshire (12/31/04).

Posted by Nick Infusino at 10:12 AM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 30, 2004

Skepticism Surrounds Many Women Owned Small Businesses

Fortune Small Business has a nice blurb on the skepticism encountered by women small business owners. Many people today subscribe to the myth that most women owned small businesses are really just a front in order to get preferential tax and contracting treatment. Yet, this myth is without merit since women owned businesses receive no preferential tax treatment. They may be eligible for 8A program assistance if they qualify (i.e. can show that they are disadvantaged) but the benefits from the 8A program are not so great as for one to assume that most women owned businesses are a front. In reality, women owned businesses are treated far worse than their male counterparts when it comes to federal contracting. While women owned businesses make up almost half of all businesses in the US, they receive only 2.9% of all federal contracts.

Posted by Nick Infusino at 03:04 PM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 28, 2004

Potential Small Business Resource

While doing some research for new news sources for the new year I ran across a very interesting forum that discusses small business issues. It is aptly named "Small-Business-Forum." The forum has threads covering financing, marketing, business planning and also deals with legal and tax issues affecting small businesses. Members can ask and answer questions about small business topics. I have not monitored the site long enough to give a comprehensive overview of its quality but I found the concept to be interesting. This is just an FYI if anyone is interested.

Posted by Nick Infusino at 10:20 PM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

The New Year Will Bring A Rise In Minimum Wage For Many States

Inc. com reports that several states will be raising its minimum wage above the federal minimum in 2005. Small business advocates argue that this will hurt the hiring rate thereby hurting the economy.

The states that will be raising its minimum wage above the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour include: Illinois ($6.50 per hour); Oregon ($7.25 per hour); Vermont ($7 per hour); Washington ($7.35 per hour- the highest in the nation); Florida ($6.15 per hour); and Maine ($6.50 per hour). Also, NY and Nevada recently approved state minimum wage increases that will top out at $7.15 and $6.15 respectively.

Many experts believe this trend will continue to more states since the federal minimum wage is well below the poverty line for a married couple or family.

Posted by Nick Infusino at 10:01 PM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

Tips On Starting A New Small Business

BusinessWeek Online has an excellent article about common startup mistakes to avoid.

Posted by Nick Infusino at 03:35 PM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

Report Finds $2 Billion In Federal Contracting Awards Miscoded

The SBA’s Office of Advocacy issued a report today which found that over $2 billion in federal contracting dollars has been miscoded as small business awards thereby skewing small business procurement statistics.  The study examined the top 1000 small business awards in 2002 and found that 44 of those companies were not small businesses.

Some of the most egregious awards that were mislabeled as small business was Titan Corp. with almost $540 million in small contracting awards and $1.1 billion in total awards, and Northrop Grumman Corp. with over $100 million in small business awards and over $12 billion in total awards. 

The Office of Advocacy cites many factors that led to the mislabeling.  These factors include erroneous assignment of codes, large firms acquiring small firms with existing small business awards, small firms outgrowing the definition of small firm, and incorrectly assigned parent company affiliations. 

For related posts please see my posts from 12/21, 12/12, 10/20, 10/7, 9/30

Posted by Nick Infusino at 09:24 AM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 27, 2004

Confusion Reigns Over The Retro-applicability Of Prop. 64

The LA Times (12/27/04) reports that frustration is mounting for opponents to Proposition 64 because the recently passed law is being retroactively applied to lawsuits that were pending prior its passage.  Proposition 64 modified California’s Unfair Competition Law by forcing plaintiffs in unfair-competition cases to prove that they have personally suffered an injury or loss because of the company’s behavior. (Under prior law, any plaintiff could bring suit regardless of whether they suffered personal harm or injury if they felt a company was causing harm to others.)

Touted as a law to prevent small business shakedowns, Proposition 64 proponents were able to convince the people of California to pass it in the November 2 elections.  Since its passage, many companies, such as DaimerChrysler and Mercury General Corp., have asked state judges to dismiss pending unfair-competition lawsuits that were pending prior to November 2.  Trial courts have been split over the retro-applicability of Proposition 64.

The opposition to Proposition 64’s retro-applicability, headed mainly by environmental groups like the Sierra Club, argue that the Proposition as described on the ballot made no mention of retro-applicability.  As such, it should not be read into the law and the pending suits should be allowed to proceed pursuant to the prior law that they were filed under.  Proponents to Proposition 64 feel that the voters have spoken and retro-applicability is consistent with the policy behind the new law. The issue is unlikely to be resolved until the California Supreme Court has its say.

Posted by Nick Infusino at 11:42 AM in Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 26, 2004

Sustainability of Family Business Important, Achievable

Click here to read an informative, concise article regarding the sustainability, longevity, and community importance of the family-owned business.

Posted by Bill Rinehart at 06:00 PM in Family Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 23, 2004

ADA Rule Changes May Affect Businesses

Proposed rule changes to the 1991 American’s With Disabilities Act, which, if enacted, would place new requirements on businesses relating to workplace accessibility, may have a dramatic impact on small businesses, including small, family-owned businesses.

Although the 1991 rule changes to ADA catalyzed a dramatic movement toward increased access for employees with disabilities, it appears that those changes may not have been enough, according to NFIB reports.

For example, one proposed rule change would mandate wheelchair access for disabled employees in employee work areas, irrespective of whether the business has any employees using wheelchairs.  Other rule changes, too, may be to the detriment of small business owners, who have already struggled (economically) to comply with the 1991 rule changes.

While the extent to which any of these rules will affect small businesses is unpredictable at this stage, one thing is for sure: if enacted, ADA compliance will be more costly for businesses.

However,-as is usually the case with ADA rule changes that negatively effect business owners- disabled employees would likely experience better, more accomodating working conditions as a result of the modifications.

Posted by Bill Rinehart at 10:41 PM in Family Businesses, Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack

December 22, 2004

Small Business Administration's Funding Cut in 2005

Click here and read this nice article from Business Week Online to find out more.

Posted by Bill Rinehart at 05:00 PM in Family Businesses, Small Businesses | Permalink | TrackBack