From the September 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

U.S. And Mexico Produce Directory.

Looking for a manufacturer for your new product? A new CD-ROM directory may hold the solution. Business and economic development officials in the United States and Mexico have joined forces to create a directory of manufacturers.

Produced by the Camino Real Economic Alliance (CREA), the directory features firms in Las Vegas; Albuquerque; Las Cruces and Santa Fe, New Mexico; El Paso, Texas; and Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico. The directory lists names, addresses, and phone and fax numbers of businesses, plus product descriptions, and the manufacturing processes used. The CD-ROM directory runs on PCs and costs $100 per year.

For a copy of the directory--or to have your small manufacturing company included in the listing--call the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce at (915) 534-0500.

National

Get Uncle Sam In Your Corner.

Sometimes doing business internationally takes more than a good product; it takes the muscle of Uncle Sam. That's where The Advocacy Center comes in.

Operated by the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, the center helps entrepreneurs win contracts from foreign governments or government-owned businesses.

Among the considerations the center weighs when deciding whether to help a particular business is the impact on the United States--how many jobs it will create, for example. Information submitted is evaluated within days. If approved, actions taken can range from writing a letter to the involved foreign officials to making sure the issue is addressed during visits from international dignitaries.

For more information about The Advocacy Center, call (800) USA-TRADE or (202) 482-3896.

Pennsylvania

Government Extends High-Tech Helping Hand.

Does your business need high-tech assistance? Look no further than the Ben Franklin Technology Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The center is part of a program that's made up of several federal laboratories scattered across the nation.

The Federal Access Program (FedTAP) is geared toward small businesses that need short-term help (generally five to 10 days) solving problems or that might want to use a new technology created in one of the labs to improve a product.

Under FedTAP, center officials do everything from facilitating meetings between entrepreneurs and lab personnel to assisting with licensing agreements and other documentation as needed. Most of the help is free; however, if a company seeks a more involved relationship with a lab, a fee will be negotiated.

For more information, contact the Ben Franklin Technology Center at (215) 382-0380.

Pilot Program

Center Upgrades Retail Sales Force.

Coalition of industry, community and government officials is hoping a new training center will help retail employees become skilled professionals.

The Retail Skills Center, a three-year pilot project that opened in June, is a one-stop recruitment, assessment and training facility for retail sales associates and retailers in Philadelphia's King of Prussia Complex. Eventually, the services will be offered to businesses throughout the region.

Store owners can send employees to the center for upgrading skills or recruit through the center, which assesses applicants and refers successful candidates to merchants.

The self-paced course teaches customer service, teamwork, functional math, written and oral communications, visual merchandising, inventory control, theft prevention and more. Those completing the training receive a lapel pin, which indicates to store owners that an individual has met the National Retail Institute standards.

Although the project is currently limited to the King of Prussia Complex, plans are underway to duplicate the center in other locations nationwide.

Contact Sources

Ben Franklin Technology Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 3625 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215) 382-0380

National Retail Institute, 325 Seventh St. N.W., #1000, Washington, DC 20004, (202) 783-7971

U.S. Department of Commerce, The Advocacy Center, Rm. 3814-A, Herbert Hoover Bldg., Washington, DC 20230, (202) 482-3896.