NEW YORK (AP) — SMALL BUSINESS WEEK
The Small Business Administration holds its annual Small Business Week events in Washington, D.C., Sunday through Tuesday. The events include forums on federal contracting, exporting goods and using social media as a marketing tool for small businesses. But you don't need to travel to the nation's capital to attend the forums. The SBA will be showing them online. The program lineup and information about online viewing can be found at www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com
For business owners attending in person, there will be networking sessions as well as a matchmaking session in which small business owners can meet with representatives of large corporations and government agencies to explore contracting possibilities. The companies include AT&T, Raytheon, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin. The government agencies include the departments of Energy, Labor, Justice and Transportation. Representatives of the Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers also will attend.
SOCIAL MEDIA SEMINAR
SCORE, the organization that gives free advice and counseling to small businesses, is giving free lessons during Small Business Week on how to use social media. SCORE is co-sponsoring workshops across the country and an online seminar that will offer tips on how to increase a company's sales through sites like Facebook. SCORE's partner in the events is Constant Contact Inc., a company that offers apps and services to help small businesses with e-mail and social media marketing campaigns.
You can find out where the workshops will be held, and a link for the online seminar, at www.constantcontact.com/small-business-week/index.jsp#event_form
The 45-minute online seminar will be held on Thursday, May 24, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
PAIN AT THE PUMP
Two small business owners were among four witnesses who testified before a House Small Business Committee hearing last week about the impact of rising gas prices on small companies. Jamie Smith, owner of a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise in Baltimore, said he has to buy an average of 1,200 gallons of gas a month to run the franchise's five service vehicles. Since Smith started his company in 2010, "I've seen a 29 percent rise in fuel prices at a time when my revenues have declined." He said fuel costs equal 10 percent of his revenue.
"Meeting obligations such as payroll and other overhead expenses while continuing to absorb energy costs and diminishing profits is unsustainable for any business," he said.
C. Cookie Driscoll, who owns a horse farm in Fairfield, Pa., said higher fuel prices are affecting all aspects of her business. She noted that farm equipment runs on diesel, which ranges between $4.15 and $4.39 a gallon in her community. And with gasoline costing between $3.69 and nearly $4 a gallon, hay and feed suppliers are raising prices to pass along those higher transportation costs. The price of veterinary care also has increased, because vets are using more fuel to travel to horse farms.
Both Smith and Driscoll called for changes in the nation's energy policies. Smith called for an increase in production and argued against the idea of raising taxes as a way to encourage less fuel use. Driscoll called for a policy that would lead to the country having an adequate and affordable energy supply. She also called for the U.S. to end its reliance on imported oil.
Lawmakers who spoke at hearing, including committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., and Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., acknowledged the toll that higher fuel prices are taking on small businesses. Velazquez, speaking about Congress, acknowledged that "we have not acted on any comprehensive energy bill" that would help small businesses.
Joyce Rosenberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg