From the June 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

Loan Program Targets Small Businesses

Small businesses located in the inner city or owned by minorities can apply for loans of $50,000 to $5 million from the GE Capital Community Small Business Development program.

Aimed at entrepreneurs in Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, who have traditionally been disenfranchised from the lending process, the program combines loans with technical assistance through its GE Capital Small Business College.

Entrepreneurs who have been in business for at least two years, have $100,000 or more in annual sales, and are adding value to their communities can apply for loans. Proceeds can be used for working capital, equipment or building purchases, and expansion.

Some loans are tied to enrollment in the GE Small Business College; others are not. The college is an 11-week course offering instruction from experienced businesspeople. The college is geared toward entrepreneurs who have been in business three to four years and are ready to take their firms to the next level. For information, call (203) 961-2166.

Maine

Fund Seeks Investments

Coastal ventures Limited Partnership, a new community development venture capital fund, expects to finance at least 11 Maine companies that will create some 400 jobs for low-income residents.

Products and services should be socially beneficial, and companies producing them should use progressive management practices. Entrepreneurs can seek from $50,000 to $500,000 for investment lengths of five to seven years. For information, contact (207) 882-7552.

National

Buying Agreements Aid Retailers

The business Technology Association (BTA) is crafting volume purchase agreements to help its membership of independent office equipment dealers compete with retail superstores.

The purchasing agreements will enable BTA members to get discounts from selected suppliers on products including office paper, parts, copiers, fax machines and computers.

According to a BTA estimate, the purchase agreements could add as much as 11 percent to each member's bottom line. And, by cutting costs, the agreements will also enable independent dealers to bid more competitively for contracts with entities such as schools and governments. The agreements can be used only by BTA members. For more information on BTA membership, call
(800) 505-BTA-1.

California

Center Helps Manufacturers, Inventors

The Southwest Los Angeles County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the California Manufacturing Technology Center (CMTC) have joined forces to help small manufacturers solve their technical and business problems.

Assistance is available at a center in Hawthorne, California, and consists of trained personnel helping with business plan development, record-keeping, marketing and financing, as well as new manufacturing processes that will improve a company's productivity. The pilot program also gives manufacturers advice on how to enter foreign markets, use the Internet and generally stay competitive.

All counseling from the SBDC is free, as is the initial session with the CMTC personnel; there is a fee for subsequent help from the CMTC. The Southwest Los Angeles County SBDC is also hosting a National Innovation Workshop, "Making Invention Pay," for innovative businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors on July 11 and 12 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Airport in Los Angeles.

The workshop targets accomplished inventors as well as people who have an idea for a product but don't know the next step to take. Lecture and panel discussion topics include patenting, commercializing your invention and avoiding scams, as well as information about financing options and specific assistance programs on the state and local levels. There will be demonstrations of new technologies and a discussion with successful inventor/entrepreneurs.

The cost to attend the workshop is $125; preregistration is encouraged, although walk-ins are accepted. For details, call the SBDC at (310) 787-6466.