From the November 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

Illinois -- Technology firms in Illinois that are involved in developing new processes or products or in transferring knowledge can take advantage of two funding programs sponsored by the state.

The Illinois Technology Development Bridge program and the Equity Investment program are open to firms with 50 employees or fewer that have no equity other than owner capital. The technology must be credible and commercially marketable. Entrepreneurs can receive $150,000 to $1 million for an investment period of up to 10 years, and must be able to produce matching funds from another investment source.

Both programs are seeking firms that will create jobs in Illinois. For information on the Bridge program, contact the Illinois Development Finance Authority at (312) 814-3482; for information on the Equity Investment program, call the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs at (312) 814-7168.

Free Export Assistance

California and Alaska -- Assistance centers in California and Alaska are among a growing number of programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs get involved in exporting.

Entrepreneurs in California can contact one of 14 Centers for International Trade Development to tap into a wide range of services, including workshops on the basics of exporting as well as assistance with finding buyers, doing business in specific countries, conducting international marketing efforts, and understanding cultural nuances and business practices.

The centers, which are funded by the California Community College Economic Development Network, offer basic services and counseling; each has five to six areas of expertise. For more information, call (800) 344-3812 or visit http://ednet.cc.ca.us

The Alaska Export Assistance Center is operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce and helps entrepreneurs at all stages of export development. Business owners receive assistance in analyzing markets, facilitating meetings, attending trade missions and finding companies to do business with overseas.

In addition to offering general help, the center specializes in exports to Asia and eastern Russia and in the lumber, gas, oil, building, seafood and tourism industries. Most services are free. Call the center at (907) 271-6237 or visit www.alaska.net/~export.

Creative Financial Strategies For Women

National -- Women who want information about nontraditional ways to finance their businesses can learn more at a free one-hour satellite conference to be held November 16 at 7:30 p.m. EST.

"Funded to Win: Creative Ways to Finance a Small Business" is the last of a three-part videoconference series that offers winning business strategies for women entrepreneurs. The conferences are sponsored in part by the SBA and are facilitated by Edward Jones, a full-service financial firm based in St. Louis.

This final installment will explore the types of financing that are available, including traditional and venture capital, as well as how to find funding. The first portion of the conference will feature a panel discussion; the audience may then ask questions of the panelists.

The satellite conference will be held at Edward Jones offices nationwide, but seating is limited. Call (314) 515-2000 for the location nearest you.

EPA Policy Lightens Up

Small businesses can take advantage of a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that offers incentives to companies that voluntarily identify and report their own violations.

There are two ways for firms with 100 or fewer employees to take advantage of the Policy on Compliance Incentives for Small Businesses. First, they can get an on-site assessment from a compliance assistance provider and, if any violations are discovered, can qualify for incentives such as reduced or eliminated penalties. Second, business owners can conduct their own evaluations by hiring a consultant or with the self-help audit guides available from the EPA.

Businesses won't qualify for the incentives if they have violations involving criminal conduct or problems that harm the environment, involve public health or safety, or present imminent and substantial danger.

To read a copy of the policy, visit http://es.epa.gov/oeca/smbusi.html For further information, contact your state's Small Business Assistance Program.