Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. -

Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 29 May 2020 04:42 PM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

Presidential Candidates Have Not Prioritized Small Business - Forbes

Presidential Candidates Have Not Prioritized Small Business - Forbes

Presidential Candidates Have Not Prioritized Small Business - Forbes

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 05:00 AM PDT

As we approach the Fourth of July, there are two dozen contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, and currently none of them are focusing on small business as a major priority. In fact, small business and the economy seem to lag far behind immigration, climate change, gun control, health care, foreign affairs and social justice as top priorities of the Democratic field.

Members of the media gather for a walk-through of the stage set-up for the first democratic debate, Wednesday, June 26, 2019.  (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Few candidates are talking about small business loans, even though access to capital is the lifeblood of small business growth. Meanwhile, many of the candidates are focusing on issues that will hurt, rather than help, small businesses, including raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.

Here is a look at the current front runners:

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Biden's campaign website contains few specific plans regarding small business or entrepreneurs, and his record on supporting small business is far from robust. As VP in 2011, supported the American Jobs Act, which cut payroll taxes and included reforms to open access to small business capital. However, he also has pushed for a $15/hour federal minimum wage since 2015 (a time when even President Obama targeted $12/hour as the goal). While Biden frequently talks about reducing income inequality and boosting the economy, he has offered little in the way of concrete proposals.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Warren says she believes that "small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy." In her home state, she has hosted an annual Massachusetts Business Matchmaker event that assembles hundreds of small business owners for a day of workshops and networking. The event provides a chance for small businesses to meet directly with representatives from government agencies and prime contractors offering subcontracting opportunities.

Warren hopes to usher in "a new era of strong antitrust enforcement so giant corporations can't stifle competition, depress wages, and drive up the cost of everything." She has proposed a $7 billion initiative to support 100,000 new minority-owned businesses and create over a million jobs. The funds would come as grants, not loans, and only be offered to entrepreneurs eligible for the SBA 8(a) program and have less than $100,000 in household wealth. She has proposed increasing taxes on large corporations to pay for these programs and grants.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is unafraid to take on "giant corporations on Wall Street" and is strong in his support of a $15/hour minimum wage. The small business section of his campaign website says that the Vermont Senator wants to make sure that small businesses have the support they need to thrive and expand. Sanders has a record of supporting access to low interest loans for small businesses and legislation, including the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which gave low interest loans to small businesses and supported small community banks through which the loans were disbursed. (The legislation also offered $12 billion in tax relief to small businesses across the U.S. and an additional $30 billion in capital for small businesses during Great Recession and the post-recession credit crunch.)

More recently, Sanders teams up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to unveil the Loan Shark Prevention Act that would cap interest rates for consumer loans and credit cards at 15%. "With lower interest rates, entrepreneurs and small business owners would have better access to the credit they need to build and grow their companies," Sanders says.

Senator Kamala Harris

As California Attorney General in 2014, Kamala Harris helped small businesses protect against cyber-crimes. She also prosecuted and won a $1.1 billion settlement against a predatory lender.

Senator Harris has called for the reversal of President Trump's 2017 tax cuts and supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. Senator Harris has not made formal proposals as a candidate related to small business or entrepreneurship.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has relatively strong record of supporting small business among the current Democratic field of candidates. He has pushed for diversity in contractors hired by his city and also partnered with Accelerator for America to find areas that weren't generating economic growth, then used tax incentives to attract investment in those areas. The South Bend Department of Community Investment reports aiding projects that added almost 700 jobs in 2017.

Mayor Buttigieg helped revive South Bend. He hopes to do the same for the country.

Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke

In June, Beto O'Rourke unveils small business plan to address racial wealth disparities and help women and minority business owners gain access to capital. As President, his goal would be to add 200,000 new women and minority-owned businesses by the end of his second term. He encourages startups to use government contracts to grow.

O'Rourke says he wants to "root out racism and sexism from lending" and make access to credit fairer and more equitable. He says he also wants to simplify tax rules and requirements. O'Rourke's campaign website small business section says he would target government contracting and other catalytic investments to unlock over a half a trillion dollars of economic opportunity for women and minority owned businesses. He also would shift at least $100 billion in government contracts away from large corporations to small businesses, with half of that opportunity going to women and minority entrepreneurs.

Senator Cory Booker

Cory Booker is a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and regularly hosts forums for small business owners in New Jersey to network and learn about federal resources that are available and help them connect with other entrepreneurs to share best practices.

Senator Booker believes that the federal government has an important role to play in helping small businesses succeed and create more jobs. He introduced the Startup Opportunity Accelerator (SOAR) Act to direct $25 million in funding over five years to a Growth Accelerator Fund, which would allow startup businesses to compete for grants to help their businesses grow.

Cory Booker supports an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Other candidates:

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard's previous campaigns featured several proposals related to small business, including tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed workers; eliminating redundant regulations that make it hard for startups and small businesses to compete; reducing payroll taxes; and supporting legislation that makes access to funding easier for small business owners.

Congressman John Delaney

Rep. Delaney, whose support is at about 1%, is an entrepreneur who started two companies and employed thousands or workers.  His second business, a company called Capital Source, focuses on financing small and midsize companies all over the country. "Our niche was companies that were growing too fast for their local community bank, but weren't big enough to be served by the big banks," Delaney told CNBC.

Delaney would use small business as a way to drive economic development and combat income inequality. He calls for direct investment in communities "left behind by globalization and technological change" and would prioritize contracting to companies in struggling communities and supporting opportunity zones - economically-distressed areas with tax incentives to encourage private investment.

Mayor Bill De Blasio

De Blasio's support for raising the minimum wage, mandatory paid vacations, and expanded sick leave for workers has done little to endear him to New York City small business owners. His Small Business First plan supported programs to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and invest $27 million to provide one-on-one counseling and make resources more accessible. De Blasio initially supported Amazon's plans to build a second headquarters in Queens, which would have boosted small businesses in the local economy, but later changed his position.

Small business growth was an important issue in 2012 and 2016 elections. Thus far, in the early Presidential campaign, the issue has taken a back seat. It remains to be seen whether this will change as Election Day 2020 draws near. Certainly, President Trump will highlight the economy and how well it has performed since he has been in the office.

SBA Awards $100,000 for Veteran Owned Small Business Growth Pilot Training Program - Yahoo Finance

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 06:15 AM PDT

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced a partnership with the Veteran Entrepreneurial Training and Resource Network (VETRN) to establish a pilot training program for military veterans who are small business owners and their immediate family members.

SBA LOGO. (PRNewsFoto/U.S. Small Business Administration) (PRNewsFoto/U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINIS...) (PRNewsfoto/U.S. Small Business Administrat)

The Veteran Owned Small Business Growth Training program will equip these entrepreneurs with the resources and networks necessary to grow their small businesses.  An award of $100,000 from President Donald Trump's salary from the second quarter of fiscal year 2018 will fund the program.

Starting in September 2019, this 26-week program based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire will feature 13 weeks of Saturday morning classroom sessions with 12 to 20 participants, as well as 13 weeks of peer-to-peer mentoring sessions. The course curriculum will include strategic planning, financial management, cash flow forecasting, marketing the small business, sales methods, human resources, developing a growth plan, access to capital, legal issues, and government contracting.

"While programs exist that help veterans start their small business, there is a critical need for programs that assist existing business owners with growing their business," said SBA Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton. "Adding VETRN to the SBA resource network will enable us to fill this gap and empower veterans with the training, mentorship, tools, and network they need to achieve their long-term goals."

Applicants must be a current business owner with at least one year of operation and one employee (not including the owner), and annual revenues of $75,000 or more.  Also required is the passion, dedication and commitment to grow the small business.

Veteran business owners interested in finding out more information or applying for the September 2019 program can visit the VETRN website to complete an application, or send an email to

To learn more about other SBA veterans programs and resources, visit .

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. 

As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. 

It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit


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Nobody cares about my small business — and that's fantastic news | TheHill - The Hill

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 02:00 PM PDT

There's been a lot of talk about a looming recession, and economists are trying to sort out several conflicting economic indicators. But there's one indicator about which there's no argument: small businesses are confident and optimistic.

Just look at the numbers. In the past few months alone, indexes and reports from The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Capital One Bank, Provident Bank, Wells Fargo, Wilmington Trust, First Citizens Bank, Kabbage and Scalefactor — which together encompass the responses of tens of thousands of small business owners — have all concluded that small business confidence and optimism is strong. So strong, in fact, that many of these levels are at their highest in history.

"Optimism among small business owners has surged back to historically high levels, thanks to strong hiring, investment, and sales," NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan wrote in her organization's recent report. "The small business half of the economy is leading the way, taking advantage of lower taxes and fewer regulations, and reinvesting in their businesses, their employees, and the economy as a whole."


It makes sense, of course. The economy is strong, and the small business economy is booming. Lending is up. Government contracts to small firms are at an all-time high. Capital spending has increased, as have wages and hiring.

But there's one other measure that people aren't considering. It's my unscientific measurement of just how good things are for small businesses, which also measures how good things are for the economy as well.

I call it The Care Index. It's midway through 2019 and I can confirm — anecdotally only — that this index has plummeted to a record low. Nobody cares about my small business.

Just think about it. During the Great Recession, the struggles of entrepreneurs and business owners were reported all over the media. "Small companies can't get loans" was a common theme. "Small firms are struggling to stay afloat" was another.

Many businesses went bust. Most shed employees. Main streets across the country were littered with empty storefronts. My company faced its own revenue and profitability challenges. 

During that time, politicians made great efforts to voice their concerns. Big companies launched campaigns to highlight the plight of their smaller brethren. To take just one example, American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to show support for its retailers and merchants.


As a small business writer, I was frequently sought after to weigh in on the enormous economic issues affecting us.

But now? Feh. Nobody cares.   

Sure, we'll occasionally see a story or two about how small companies are struggling to find workers, pay a higher minimum wage or deal with some new regulation. But no one's feeling very sympathetic. And yes, we'll hear politicians voice their support for small businesses and our challenges during this political year. 

But c'mon, can we all agree that this just isn't the political issue it was in 2008 or 2012? That's because we all know that most of America's 30 million small businesses are doing just fine, thank you very much.

That's not great for small business writers like me because people don't seem to have the same level of interest now that they had during the height of the recession. Then again, I don't just write about small business; I also own a small business that's been taking advantage of these stronger economic times.

The Care Index is at its lowest level ever, but I've got nothing to complain about.

Gene Marks is founder of The Marks Group, a small-business consulting firm. He has written on economic and financial issues for The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Guardian. He also frequently appears on CNBC, Fox Business and MSNBC.

Ballyhoo CEO: How my small business got Amazoned by - Crain's New York Business

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 04:55 AM PDT

Jeff Bezos and I have something in common. No, I'm not a billionaire in charge of one of the world's largest companies. Quite the opposite: I own a family business with nine employees.

The similarity lies in our experiences trying to expand to New York City. As you'll recall, a handful of critics pressured elected officials to run Amazon out of town. The same thing is happening to my company, Ballyhoo Media. We aren't a global e-commerce juggernaut, but when I tried to do business in New York City, I got Amazoned.

I started Ballyhoo Media in Miami three years ago. The idea was to create an outdoor digital media platform that operated on the water. We marketed to nonprofits, local governments, businesses and individuals for posting messages including ads, community events, marriage proposals and safety warnings for swimmers and boaters. The possibilities seemed endless.

After some initial public skepticism in Miami, we made a concerted effort to build community partnerships. We spoke with local leaders, planned events and worked with nonprofits pro bono. The response soon became overwhelmingly positive. Today, business is great and the community rightly views Ballyhoo Media as a resource.

Like any business, we explored new markets. New York City seemed like a terrific fit. We hired an attorney to ensure compliance with city and state laws, obtained the necessary licenses and in October 2018 launched our first vessel in the Big Apple.

As in Miami, some in the community reacted with skepticism. Many felt there was enough advertising already. Others objected because it was new to them. All of this was understandable, but we were (and still are) confident that our commitment to being good partners would convince people that Ballyhoo Media would be a positive for the community. Then elected officials weighed in, and things changed.

In January, the city demanded we cease operations, claiming we were violating a zoning ordinance. We explained that we were not, and invited the city to talk. No response. Shortly thereafter, local elected officials began publicly—and falsely—accusing us of illegal activity and leveling unwarranted insults at our business in the press and on social media. When we reached out to try to work with the city and tell them about our values, vision and opportunities for partnership, we were met with a closed door. Even when we learned that the city partnered with a vessel equipped with a digital billboard like ours for an art exhibit just a month before our launch, our attempts to find common ground were rejected.

In March, the city sued us to halt our operations and issued a press release which was widely covered. What wasn't reported was that weeks later, the judge in that lawsuit ruled our ads were legal if they were at least 1,500 feet from the shoreline when in view of a highway.

I wish I could say it ended there, but it did not. Last month the state Legislature passed a bill in the dead of night banning vessels from using digital billboards for advertising on New York's waterways. Bill sponsors claim boats like ours are unsafe to other boaters. But in three years of business, no accidents related to us have been reported in New York or Miami. Moreover, New York's waterways are already filled with ads: Banners are flown over the Hudson regularly and almost every city ferry is covered by marketing. There is no justification for this bill.

It's extraordinary that to appease a handful of critics, the city and state government lined up to target a single company hoping to grow here. And get this: As we launched in New York, we started operating across the river and New Jersey communities welcomed us with open arms. States including Maryland, Delaware and California have companies like ours and none is trying to ban them. Only New York is.

There is still hope. Gov. Andrew Cuomo can veto the legislation and send a message that New York is open for business, just like he says. If he does, Ballyhoo will work with the community to assuage concerns and prove our value as a resource—think movie nights on the waterfront, community celebrations, help for local businesses and recognition of important milestones. If he doesn't, it will be clear that it's not just global corporations that get run out of New York, but small, family-owned ones too.

Adam Shapiro is CEO of Ballyhoo Media.

Rapid acquisition leads to rapid success for Air Force small business - Robins Rev Up

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 05:54 AM PDT


Rapid success in contracting has earned Air Force representatives an invite to the opening of the Nasdaq Stock Market July 3 in New York City.

Air Force representatives received the invitation from an Air Force and AFWERX Small Business partner, Vita Inclinata Technologies LLC.

Founders of that company will ring the opening bell July 3, signaling the start of the Nasdaq trading day. Ringing the opening bell at a stock exchange is a hallmark moment for private businesses, and a milestone indicative of business success.

The Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX representatives were invited to attend that bell ringing, because a recent Air Force rapid acquisition practice led the company to this point.

Vita Inclinata first got on the Air Force's radar at a contracting sprint day back in October 2018, which sought to identify game-changing technologies and award a number of initial contracts in a matter of hours. The contracting sprint was a combined effort of the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Air Force's Small Business Innovation Research program and AFWERX, with participation from a number of other Air Force organizations.

"We looked for a more commercially-focused application, a shorter application time, shorter initial award periods and more awards to bring in more companies to work with us," said Ryan Helbach, of the Air Force Research Laboratory chief intrapreneur. "It normally takes six months for a company to submit a proposal and then receive a contract award."

But the new contracting sprint process cut that six-month standard timeline down to a matter of hours and several companies took advantage of that opportunity.

"We had a goal of awarding contracts to 50 companies in 50 hours. We actually doubled that number and in 40 hours, we awarded 102 contracts. One of those contracts was to Vita Inclinata."

The company received a Phase I contract award, to conduct a feasibility study of its Load Stability System, identify customers and define the operational use of the proposed technology.

The LSS is a chaotic motion control system for helicopters, counteracting the spinning of payloads and personnel suspended by cables below a helicopter in flight. That spinning adds additional strain to the cables, increases risk, makes it harder to place the payload with precision and is undesirable when lifting personnel for rescue and exfiltration missions.

The LSS is attached to the lifting cables. Once free of the helicopter's cabin, the LSS sensors and control algorithms take over and, using a drone-type configuration, counteract and mitigate all swing. The initial use of this new technology is being tested for use in lifting patients into a hovering helicopter for rapid evacuation and can be applied to both military and civilian helicopters for both cargo transport sorties and lifting patients into a helicopter during rescues.

In the same month that Vita Inclinata received its first Air Force contract award, the company completed its first flight test of LSS under a helicopter.

Their rapid progress and rapid results earned a Phase II contract award in March, for further prototyping and testing with end users. Awards of this nature can be a dollar-for-dollar match for up to $1.5 million and create a joint military and private investment.

Now the LSS is in its beta stage and actively being refined for customers in the Air Force and the oil industry; and the Army has shown interest in the product as well, according to Caleb Carr, Vita Technologies, LLC president and chief executive officer.

"Without the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force, the LSS would not be a reality," Carr said. "Our first Phase I contract is what convinced angel investors that Vita was worth investing in. Furthermore, the speed at which the Air Force moved to grant our contracts resulted in Vita raising over $1 million in an angel investment round within 20 days. Meanwhile, while at the Air Force accelerator we launched our Series A round to execute on delivering the LSS to crane and helicopter operators all over the world."

"Through the support of the Air Force accelerator, the relationships and the rapid award of our Phase II contract, Vita was able to raise another $6 million dollars in 40 days. To put it simply, the Air Force empowered Vita and took a risk that investors weren't willing to initially take, ensuring that the LSS can save lives for decades to come," he added.

More contracting sprints and even more rapid "Air Force Pitch Days" are planned, with another 12 planned between now and the end of the year. The next two pitch days are in July, with a goal of awarding on the spot contracts from pitches received at the Air Force UAS Pitch Day, July 24 in Burlington, Massachusetts and the Kessel Run Pitch Day, July 26 in Boston. Each of the remaining 2019 pitch days will concentrate on a specific topic including space, simulators, hypersonics, airborne communications and rapid sustainment.

More information on upcoming Pitch days and deadlines to submit proposals can be found at: or .


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