Checking out the latest in computer technology may be as close as your nearest Small Business Administration (SBA) branch. Recently, the SBA made several alliances with leading technology companies to bring their wares to Business Information Centers (BIC) around the country so small businesses can try them free of charge.
In December, the SBA announced Start, Run, Grow, a major technology program developed in conjunction with Microsoft and Compaq Computer. In one of the largest private-sector contributions to the SBA, these and other companies will donate about $2 million in computer hardware, software, technical support and educational resources to BICs.
"All the technology is focused on the small-business owner, so we've really done the selection for them," says Monika Edwards-Harrison, the SBA's associate administrator for business initiatives. "It gives them a place to come and preview the software and hardware to see if it might be something they want to use in managing their businesses on a daily basis."
Apple Computer is also supplying BICs with the latest in Apple Macintosh technology. By year-end, up to 50 Apple systems will be operating within BICs nationwide.