f you're expanding into new territory and don't have much in the way of a market research budget, sign up for CenStats through the U.S. Census Bureau. A new fee-based subscription service on the Internet, CenStats gives you access to the Census Bureau's most popular databases, as well as information sold via CD-ROM.
If you have the time and patience to sort through it all, CenStats can furnish voluminous amounts of data most homebased businesses will find useful. Search by county under County Business Patterns, and you'll get business profiles for an area detailing payroll information and business sizes by industry; you'll get the same information when you search by ZIP code under ZIP Business Patterns. Under the USA Counties area, you'll also find counties' economic and demographic information. For instance, click on the state of Maryland and then Cecil County, and you have access to data regarding its population, personal income per capita and more.
You can take the service for a spin by going to the Census Bureau's Web page (http://www.census.gov ), clicking on the CenStats icon and then hitting "Test Drive." You have the option to sign up for the service online or by calling (301) 457-4100. Single-user subscriptions cost $40 for three months and $125 for one year.
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