National -- Small-business owners who don't retain employees because they can't afford to offer health insurance and other benefits now have a partial solution.
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a joint state and federal program that targets employees with children 18 and younger who don't have access to health care. If your employees earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance, their children may qualify for this option. The government has already approved 44 state, district and territory CHIP plans.
States can ask families to pay a portion of the cost, but there is a cap on what they can charge, and you may be able to reimburse employees for this cost. For more information, contact your state health department or Medicaid agency or visit CHIP's Web site at http://www.hcfa.gov/init/children.htm
Bank Takes New Route To Business Financing
Kentucky -- Entrepreneurs in Louisville, Kentucky, can now get a little financial help from their friends by turning to a local bank whose sole purpose is to stimulate the city's economy.
Money for the loans made by the Louisville Community Development Bank (LCDB) comes from a distinctive source--certificates of deposit purchased by individuals and corporations that want to invest in their community. Investors must consign a minimum of $200 in one of three types of CDs, which the LCDB then uses to lend to local companies. LCDB, a federally insured bank, offers a variety of services, from bridge or gap financing and lines of credit to working capital of $5,000 to $1 million. Interest rates may be a little higher than other banks because the bank tends to make riskier loans.
To qualify, borrowers must live, have a business in, provide services to or hire from the Phoenix Hill, Shelby Park, Smoketown or West End communities of Louisville. For more information, call (502) 778-7000.
CD-ROMs Explore Government Resources
National -- Two recently released CD-ROMs give entrepreneurs a better idea about which government programs can help them.
- The Business and Technical Assistance Programs (BTAP) CD-ROM, created by the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, features a database of more than 2,200 national, state and local organizations that help business owners. Targeting companies with 100 employees or fewer, the CD provides names of contact people, phone numbers, addresses and brief descriptions of each assisting organization.
BTAP is available in Windows 3.1/95/NT as well as Macintosh platforms and costs $35. To order, visit the center's Web site at http://www.nttc.edu/btap or contact NTTC at 4th Fl., Wheeling Jesuit University, 316 Washington Ave., Wheeling, WV 26003, (800) 678-6882.
- Government on the Net (Nolo Press), by James Evans, is a CD-ROM/book combination that lists and describes more than 2,000 online government resources. Entrepreneurs can find information on the SBA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as well as suggestions on where to find government data. Once you decide what you want, the CD-ROM links you directly with the source, eliminating the need to type in a URL.
The CD-ROM and book cost $39.95 and can be purchased at bookstores nationwide or by calling Nolo Press at (800) 992-6656.
SBA Embarks On Affirmative Action Tour
National -- The SBA has taken its show on the road with a 13-city tour to explain how the new small disadvantaged business (SDB) program works and who it impacts.
From now through May, the SBA is holding inexpensive two-day meetings nationwide to inform federal employees, entrepreneurs, prime contractors and subcontractors about how the SDB program will work, how it will impact each aspect of the government procurement process and how it differs from the SBA's 8(a) business development program.
The SDB program entails new guidelines, implemented in October, that are designed to improve the application of affirmative action policies when it comes to government procurement. Under the program, small firms can no longer self-certify themselves as economically and socially disadvantaged; proving social disadvantage will be easier; economically disadvantaged firms will be determined by financial status; and special pricing credits will be given to SDB firms operating in specific industries with historically discriminatory practices.
An estimated 30,000 firms nationwide will be affected by the SDB program, including many women-owned firms that may have had problems qualifying in the past. For meeting locations, call (800) 558-0884.
James Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisville Community Development Bank, 2901 W. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40211