Get Started: Risk and loan program, regulations

RISK EDUCATION

Insurance company Travelers Co. is expanding a program it launched in 2012 that teaches women and minority entrepreneurs about risk planning and makes them eligible for microloans.

The Small Business Risk Education program, designed by Travelers and Valley Economic Development Center, a nonprofit business development center in Los Angeles, helps entrepreneurs:

— Assess potential risks to their businesses.

— Understand what their businesses need to survive a fire, natural disaster or other event that could interrupt operations.

— Develop a strategy to prepare for, and possibly prevent, a disaster.

— Test their risk strategies to confirm that they work.

Entrepreneurs who successfully complete the program, which includes training in a classroom setting and individual risk planning sessions, are then eligible for microloans to help put their plans into place and to help sustain their businesses. About 60 businesses participated in the workshops and 20 went onto complete risk plans for their businesses.

So far the program has approved $183,000 in microloans through the VEDC and an additional $82,000 are being processed, according to Roberto Barragan, CEO of the VEDC. A lot of small-business owners don't realize how important it is to have a risk plan and insurance, Barragan said.

"We've seen businesses post-disaster, post-fire looking for money to restart their businesses," Barragan said. "It's heart-wrenching when they don't have the proper insurance."

Travelers plans to continue the program in Los Angeles, launch a similar program in Chicago in second quarter of this year and add more cities in 2014.

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COMMENTING ON REGULATIONS

The House Small Business Committee has created a website where company owners and other people can comment on proposed federal regulations. The site includes regulations proposed by a number of agencies including the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency that the committee believes will affect small businesses. You can visit the site at http://smallbusiness.house.gov/legislation/regulatory-alerts.htm

Each proposed regulation on the site includes a link to Regulations.gov, the federal website where all proposed federal regulations are posted.

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