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Money Buzz 12/01

SBA-administered New Markets Venture Capital Program underway, relief for companies with reservist employees called into active duty, and more

Lucky 7

The SBA-administered New Markets Venture Capital Program, a dollar-for-dollar matching program, has conditionally approved seven firms investing in economically depressed areas: Athens, Ohio-based Adena Ventures; Wiscasset, Maine-based CEI Community Ventures Fund LLC; College Park, Maryland-based Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; Philadelphia-based Murex Investments I LP; University, Pennsylvania-based Pennsylvania Rural Opportunities Fund; Oak Ridge, Tennessee-based The Southern Appalachian Fund LP; and Phoenix-based Southwest Development Fund LLC.

Funds must meet the program's January 9, 2002, deadline for raising at least $5 million in equity investment funds and an additional 30 percent of that total in technical assistance grant money, but it's not too early to make advances. "Since we received conditional approval, we essentially began operating," says Lynn Gellermann, president and COO of Adena Ventures, which has already raised $12.5 million-plus in equity funds.

A second round of approvals is planned for spring 2002.

Duty Calls

Announced in the wake of the September terrorist attacks, the SBA's Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) was eerily well-timed. The program, which offers support for companies that have key employees called to active duty, debuted just days after an announcement that an expected 35,500 reservists would be called in the coming months.


53%
of Americans say they are not in a good position to spend money.
SOURCE: The Gallup Organization

Yet MREIDL was two years in the making, following the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 after the Bosnian conflict. Affected businesses can apply for up to $1.5 million at a maximum interest rate of 4 percent and a term of up to 30 years, says the SBA's Carol Chastang. "The idea is to help keep small businesses, which can be devastated by the loss of a key person, alive during that period."

Companies can apply for a MREIDL by filing an application with their regional SBA disaster area office anytime up until 90 days after the employee is discharged, says Chastang. "The business essentially has to prove that a key employee was called up for an extended period of time for a military conflict and that the business suffered economic loss because that employee or business owner was away."

Play With the Pros

Once the exclusive domain of professionals, a mind-dazzling array of stock data-share price, P/E ratio, revenue growth-is available in real time to individuals via the Internet. And the online stock-picking tools you can use to crunch these numbers are more sophisticated than ever. Sites like www.tradeworx.com, www.valuengine.com and www.vectorvest.com lure investors with free stock-screening tools, then soft-sell premium subscription-based services promising professional-quality analysis uncolored by the biases associated with brokerage firms.

Is stepping up to the next level worth the monthly fees, which typically range from $9.95 to $49.95? It depends on the service and the investor's needs, says Borzou Deragahi, who covers personal finance for Money magazine. "If you want to find a fair value for a stock, there are plenty of Web sites out there that charge for that, but you can get similar analysis for free," he says. Free services like www.morningstar.com, www.quicken.com and www.valuepro.net may not give you the specific details you need, though. In that case, you may have to pay for extra info. Tradeworx, for example, offers a service for $9.95 per month geared to investors who place limit orders. It lets you enter the stock and the price you want to pay, and analyzes real-time historic price data to calculate the odds of execution over the next five days.

In general, however, be wary of fee-based sites, advises Deragahi. "Unless you're looking for something really specialized, you can find a free equivalent."


Jennifer Pellet is a freelance writer in New York City specializing in business and finance.

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This article was originally published in the December 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Money Buzz 12/01.

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