The U.S. government has come to the rescue of small firms impacted by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Firms in 35 designated communities nationwide can apply for loan guaranties of up to $750,000 through the Small Business Association's (SBA) 7(a) loan program, the North American Development Bank (NADBank) or the Department of Agriculture's Business and Industry Loan Program. The cost of the loans and loan guaranties will be underwritten by NADBank.
Eligible businesses must be located in one of the designated impacted areas, meet conventional SBA loan standards and size requirements, and be able to show that proceeds will help the company create or retain one job for every $35,000 loaned.
The loans are part of the NAFTA Transitional Adjustment program run by the same organizations offering the loans, and are open to businesses in communities where unemployment is at least 6.5 percent. For more information, contact your local SBA office.
Sell To Uncle Sam
Contrary to what you might think, most federal government purchases are for $5,000 or less--all the more reason small firms should sell to the government, says Robert Sullivan, author of the recently released United States Government: New Customer! (Information International).
Sullivan's book offers a step-by-step game plan on how to sell to the federal government. The book also details selling to the General Services Administration; NASA; the Departments of State, Commerce and Defense; the Veterans Administration; the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA); and the United States Postal Service. There is also a state-by-state list of companies that offer subcontracting opportunities, a listing of commodities purchased by the DLA, and contact sources for each branch of government discussed.
You can order the book for $27.95 plus $4.50 shipping and handling by calling (800) 375-8439 or writing Information International, P.O. Box 579, 10814 Fawn Drive, Great Falls, VA 22066.
Centers Link Employers and Workers
Entrepreneurs recruiting employees now have a new tool to add to their search arsenal. The federal government has created a partnership with state and local governments as well as various private and public organizations to establish more than 350 One-Stop Career Centers nationwide. About two-thirds of the states already have one, and every state is scheduled to be online by 2000.
The centers recruit and pre-screen prospective applicants, allow employers to post positions online in America's Job Bank (http://www.ajb.dni.us ), and provide job and industry growth trends and forecasts as well as wage data and other labor market information. They also offer information on complying with federal employment legislation.
In conjunction with the centers, a pilot project called America's Talent Bank (http://www.atb.org ) enables employers to peruse a database of resumes for potential employees. The service is currently available in Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Utah, and will be available nationwide if the pilot project is successful.
All of these basic services are available at no charge; more customized assistance, i.e. information not already included in the database, is provided for a fee. The One-Stop Centers may be called by different names in each state; to find the location nearest you, check the state government pages of your phone book under headings such as "One-Stop Career Center," "Employment Services," "Job Services" and so on. For more information about the entire One-Stop Career Center system, visit http://www.doleta.gov .
Recycling center gives small firms big help.
Recycling is big business for many entrepreneurs, and the state of North Carolina has created a Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC) to help these companies in a variety of ways.
The center helps firms that use recycled material as well as recycling businesses that are looking to relocate to North Carolina. RBAC will also work with start-up or expanding firms by providing marketing and industry information for business plans.
The center helps link the business and recycling communities to facilitate access to financing and other business assistance. It also maintains a market database and a directory listing companies that provide recycling services and products. These firms encompass traditional recycling as well as industrial and organic waste.
While the center does not lend money to assist small recycling firms, it does keep abreast of various potential funding opportunities. One of these is a series of nationwide recycling investment forums where recycling firms present business plans to potential investors. To contact the RBAC, call (919) 715-6500.
Small Business Administration, (800) 8-ASK-SBA