Amarillo entrepreneurs seeking to establish or expand a small business that exports at least 75 percent of its products and services outside of the Amarillo area can compete for grants of $1,000 to $50,000 through the Amarillo Enterprise Challenge program operated by the Panhandle Small Business Development Center. Businesses must be in the manufacturing, food processing, regional or national distribution, computer software development, or mail order industries. Business plans are due by January 30. For details, call the Amarillo Economic Development Corp. at (806) 379-6411.
Investment Forums Help Recycling Businesses.
A series of forums will give entrepreneurs involved in recycling a chance to present their businesses to potential investors. The South Carolina Recycling Market Development Advisory Council will host the Southeast Recycling Investment Forum February 23 in Charleston; call (803) 737-0477 for information. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development will host the Midwest Recycling Investment Forum on March 23 in Omaha, which will include representatives from Saskatchewan and Manitoba; call (402) 471-3766 for information. The Northeast Recycling Council will host the Northeastern Recycling Investment Forum in May in Philadelphia; call (802) 254-3636 for information. Forums are planned for California through the Materials for the Future Association, but dates have not yet been set; call (415) 561-6530 for information.
All forums have been organized by Durham, North Carolina-based KirkWorks, a recycling economic developer. For updates on these and other forums, contact KirkWorks at (919)220-8065 or visit its Web site at http://www.kirkworks.com
SCORE Goes Cyber With New Web Site.
If you've ever wanted to get free business counseling in the convenience of your home or office, your wish has been granted with a new Web site developed by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
One of the site's most popular features is e-mail counseling, which allows entrepreneurs to seek advice from any of 200 counselors nationwide. Queries are typically answered within 48 hours, and all transactions are confidential.
The site also includes business resources, ranging from a list of chambers of commerce by state and region to information on how to copyright a document, find shareware or obtain demographic data. The Business Hotlinks section gives you access to the House and Senate small-business committees to track legislation or register your opinion.
People visiting the site can also view a list of SCORE chapters nationwide and get answers to frequently asked questions. Check out the Web site at http://www.score.org
New Service Tracks Subcontracting News
Entrepreneurs who spend hours surfing federal Web sites to keep abreast of solicitations for the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs can now get the information in a fraction of the time.
Thanks to a free e-mail/fax alerting service operated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Small Business Program in Richland, Washington, entrepreneurs can get information on solicitations and proposal due dates from the 11 federal agencies involved in the $1 billion SBIR/STTR program. The bi-weekly alert also details related workshops and conferences. Pre-solicitation notices and the program manager's name and contact information are also included.
To sign up for the SBIR/STTR alert, send the following e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org: subscribe sbir-alert (your first and last name). To get the alert by fax, send your name, organization, phone and fax numbers to (509) 372-4589.
Take The Mystery Out Of Customer Service.
Want to know how your customer service rates when you aren't minding the store? Hire a mystery shopper.
The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers a program in which three consultants evaluate customer service, product displays, overall atmosphere or anything else an entrepreneur wants studied.
Visits can be arranged for any time period; once completed, a report including observations and recommendations is submitted to the business owner. Free follow-up counseling sessions are provided as needed. The service costs $75 plus expenses.
The Inland Empire SBDC is one of 10 centers throughout California offering the Mystery Shopper program. Other SBDCs may offer it as well; call the location nearest you to find out.
Inland Empire Small Business Development Center, 1157 Spruce Ct., Riverside, CA 92507, (909) 781-2345