TAKING SMALL BUSINESS WEEK ON THE ROAD
This is National Small Business Week, when government agencies and small business organizations around the country hold networking events and forums. While the Small Business Administration is holding three days of events in Washington, D.C., some of the Small Business Development Centers it sponsors are having their own programs. For example, the SBDC at the University of Central Florida holds workshops Wednesday and Thursday in Orlando to teach small business owners how to pursue business opportunities with the federal government. You can find out more about the events at http://today.ucf.edu/sbdc-has-big-plans-for-small-business-week . If you're looking for an event in your area, do an online search for "Small Business Week" and your town, city or state.
Separately this week: The New York City Department of Small Business Services holds a workshop Tuesday to help owners sharpen their marketing skills. Among the topics to be covered will be how to build your company's brand and the importance of knowing your target customers.
CONFIDENCE IS LOCAL
Small business owners are more confident about their local economies than they are about the national economy. In the next 12 months, 42 percent of the participants expect their local economic conditions to improve, while 35 percent expect the national economy to get better, according to Bank of America's small business owner report, which surveyed small business owners from across the nation.
Their top economic concerns were effectiveness of government leaders, oil and gas prices and consumer spending. Still, many small business owners are feeling optimistic. One reason is they believe in their ability to help their companies grow. Fifty-three percent of the participants said their own decisions rather than the health of the economy are likely to affect how well their companies do.
On a more personal note, 38 percent of the respondents said that running a business is the most stressful thing they deal with. More than half have sacrificed personal time, and more than a third have let go of keeping physically fit, to keep up with business demands.
CONSTRUCTION HIRING AT A STANDSTILL
A look at hiring by construction firms shows that the industry's recovery from the housing collapse and recession isn't gaining momentum. The Associated General Contractors of America said that only 19 states had gains in construction jobs in April compared to March employment levels, while 28 states and Washington D.C. lost jobs. In three states, construction employment was unchanged. The numbers were little changed from a similar report by the trade group a year earlier. Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist, said there were signs that homebuilding is starting to recover, but that government spending on buildings, roads and other projects is decreasing.
CONTRACTING BILLS PASS THE HOUSE
Eight bills aimed at making it easier for small companies to win federal contracts were approved Friday by the House of Representatives. But their fate is uncertain because of a possible presidential veto of accompanying legislation.
The contracting bills are attached to $642 billion defense spending bill, which passed the House by a vote of 229-120. It goes next to the Senate. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill because it has significant changes from his proposed Pentagon budget.
The contracting bills include the Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contracting Act, which would raise to 25 percent the amount of federal contracting dollars that should go to small businesses. Under current law, the figure is 23 percent. The package also includes legislation to fight fraud in contracting and a revamp of the standards the SBA uses to determine what a small business is.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
The SBA holds an online seminar on May 29 about preparing your business for a hurricane. Dr. Gerry Bell, a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Long-Range Hurricane Outlook Team, will present the forecast for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The seminar will also feature disaster preparation tips. You can register at www1.gotomeeting.com/register/456830896.
Joyce Rosenberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg