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This Week's Stories: March 9 - 13, 2009

capitol-building.jpgIt's been nearly a month since Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009. At 407 pages, the bill can be intimidating, so we're helping you dissect it into bite-sized pieces. Read more to learn what the stimulus means for you and how the money from the bill ends up in your pockets.

A huge chunk of the economic stimulus plan is the $80 billion earmarked for clean energy, giving many small businesses the green light. Grants, loans and tax incentives are just some of the ways the government's pushing for growth, according to green expert Glenn Croston in "Stimulus Package Has Green for Clean Energy." Opportunities lie in businesses that manufacture and install energy-efficient systems, which, in effect, create green-collar jobs, reduce carbon emissions and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign energy sources. What does the stimulus plan say about your business taxes? In "Stimulus 101: 6 Vital Tax Changes," Carol Tice condenses the behemoth American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act into a digestible, understandable tax code for entrepreneurs. These vital tax changes are helping distressed business owners pay off debt and taxes. 
  
Additionally, we're giving you a guide on how to address consumer fear. As consumers tighten their wallets, the economy gets worse. And as the economy gets worse, your customers grow more fearful. It's a vicious cycle, which we attempt to break in "How to Address Consumer Fear." In this article, Elizabeth Wilson speaks with San Diego State's professor of marketing George Belch about what's driving public fear. Belch says that now is the time for businesses to adapt by bundling services and being flexible with pricing.

While the national unemployment rate is at 8.1 percent, the black unemployment rate is at 13.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It raises questions about race and inequality in business, which we explore further in Jennifer Wang's "Mixed Signals: The State of Black Entrepreneurship." In this article, we learn whether the measures of black-owned businesses are accurate and what can be done to bridge the gap.

Finally, entrepreneurs are finding the silver lining to the recession. In "Recession Delivers Timely Wake-up Calls," we learn about three entrepreneurs that needed something as dire as the economic crisis to shake them out of complacency and focus on their businesses.

While the economic outlook seems bleak, we hope you can find some useful information from these articles and some inspiration from the entrepreneurs we feature.

--Jessica Chen

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