An e-commerce option is now part of the SBA's online classroom program. Created through a partnership with Cisco Systems Inc., the Internet Essentials for Growing Businesses series offers you free instruction. Each course is a self-contained module allowing you to take it by itself or with the entire series, which includes an overview of the Internet economy, e-commerce basics, growing your dot-com, integrating your business and technical plans, and using Web marketing.
To access the courses, go to www.sba.gov and click on "SBA Classroom" and then "Online Courses." Then go to "e-Commerce" and click on "The Internet Economy." To take the courses, you'll need RealPlayer or Microsoft Media Player and at least a 28.8Kbps connection for the audio version, or you can read the text version.
Entrepreneurs in federally des-ignated low- and moderate-income areas who are interested in obtaining SBA CommunityExpress loans now have hundreds more lenders to choose from. Initially, the CommunityExpress Loan program, created in conjunction with the Banker/Community Collaborative Council, had only eight lenders. Now some 400 institutions will participate in the program, and it has already topped $17 million in loans.
CommunityExpress loans are available in amounts up to $250,000. The first $100,000 is guaranteed by the SBA at 80 percent and the balance, at 75 percent. These loans also include pre- and post-loan technical assistance from community service providers.
To determine whether you're in a qualified area or to locate the nearest CommunityExpress lender, call (202) 628-8866.