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Archive for January, 2011

Commercial Encryption Export Regulations Seminar Scheduled

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

With security being of paramount importance in today’s world of international trade, the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center (ITRC) will host a “Commercial Encryption Export Regulations” seminar on January 27th from 9-11:30 a.m. at the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development (172 Pembroke Road).

export-encryptionEncryption products are widely used to protect sensitive information. The U.S. Government maintains export controls on encryption items including encryption software, technology and other products to protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Manufacturers and exporters of encrypted items may need to obtain a license to export their products, requiring a great deal of knowledge regarding current rules and regulations.

In this seminar, participants will learn how to identify a product that needs an export license, how to register, self-classify and file a License Exception ENC classification request, how to keep proper records and how to adjust to new amendments to EAR regarding encryption items.

The session will be presented by Jeanette Reed of Evolutions in Business.

The cost for the session is $55 and includes a light breakfast. For details, please visit www.exportnh.org/calendar/registration.aspx. For questions, contact Ellie White at (603) 271-8444 or ellie.white@dred.state.nh.us

Administered by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development’s Office of International Commerce, the ITRC plans, develops and administers programs for international trade promotion and foreign market development.  For more information about the ITRC, call (603) 271-8444, or visit their website at www.exportnh.org

SBA and Agility Recovery Solutions Offer Monthly Small Business Disaster Preparedness Webinars

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Small business owners have an opportunity to get tips on business continuity planning in 2011 through a series of free webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery Solutions.

disaster-managementInformation on gauging your business’s potential vulnerabilities to natural and man-made disasters will be presented during the “Starting Fresh—Assessing Risk & Threats to your Business in 2011” webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

During the hour-long webinar, Agility CEO Bob Boyd and business continuity planner Mark Norton will discuss the basics of risk assessment, the importance of identifying critical small business functions, and employee preparedness.

“A vital part of growing a small business is guarding the company’s infrastructure,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “These free disaster preparedness webinars are an opportunity for business owners to learn how to become proactive and practical about analyzing risks and making a plan to recover. This is about not only protecting the business before disaster strikes, but having a plan in place so the business rebuilds quickly and thrives.”

The SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery Solutions to offer small business continuity strategies via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website at www.preparemybusiness.org.  To register for the Jan. 18th webinar, go to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/785086473.

Dates and topics for upcoming free webinars are as follows:

Feb. 15 – “Disaster Recovery Year in Review”
March 15 – “SBA Disaster Assistance”
April 19 – “Leading with resiliency during a disaster”                
May 17 – “Crisis Communications Planning”
June 21 – “Hurricane Season preparation”                                   
July 19 – “Disaster recovery best practices”
Aug. 16 – “Social media and disaster recovery”                          
September – Weekly webinars during National Preparedness Month include testing recovery plans, Pandemic planning, and securing management support for recovery planning.
Oct. 18 – “Preparing your business for the Winter Weather season”
Nov. 15 – “The Impact of Preparedness on the bottom Line” 
Dec. 20 – “Management obligations during Disaster Recovery”

More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners and renters are available on the SBA’s website at    http://www.sba.gov/content/disaster-preparedness.

Strategies for Managing Healthcare Costs Focus of Panel at Small Business Event

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

A discussion about strategies and opportunities for controlling healthcare costs, a look at this year’s top policy issues from the state’s top legislators and more will be the focus of the Business and Industry Association’s 6th Annual Small Business Day at the State House event to be held Feb. 1 at the Holiday Inn, Concord from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

small-business-webThe annual small business event, held in partnership with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NH SBDC), New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, and local and regional chambers of commerce and business associations, is meant to engage small business owners and managers in public policy discussion and debate, as well as provide them with practical and relevant information to help manage and grow their business. Small Business Day is sponsored by Public Service of New Hampshire, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire, and media sponsor New Hampshire Business Review.

Small Business Day at the State House will begin with a panel discussion with the state’s top elected leaders: Senate President Peter Bragdon, House Speaker Bill O’Brien, Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen and House Minority Leader Terie Norelli (awaiting confirmation). The state leadership panel will focus specifically on top small business issues of 2011 and how state elected leaders will resolve them.

Following a short break, a panel of experts in the healthcare sector will participate in a panel discussion titled “Health Care – Why Is It So Expensive and What Can My Small Business Do About It?” Panel participants include Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire; Steve Gerlach, an attorney with Bernstein Shur; and Dan Cronin, CEO of CGI Employee Benefits Group. They will explore various theories about why health care is so expensive in the Granite State and discuss strategies and opportunities for small businesses to control rising healthcare costs.

The New Hampshire Small Business Development Center will present the event’s final breakout session titled “Move Your Business Forward with e-Tools,” a preview of two of the center’s new e-courses. Hollis McGuire of the NH SBDC will discuss the course Financing a Business in NH, which covers the variety of financing options available to New Hampshire small business owners. Christine Halvorson of Halvorson New Media will outline the second course, Social Media for Business, which unravels the array of products and uses of social media for business.

Participating chambers and business associations include the Grantham Area, Greater Claremont, Greater Keene, Greater Peterborough, Greater Salem, Hampton Area, Hillsborough, Lakes Region, Lebanon Area, Lincoln-Woodstock, Merrimack, Plymouth Regional, Souhegan Valley, Waterville Valley Region and Wolfeboro Area chambers of commerce, the New Hampshire Association of Insurance Agents, and the New Hampshire High Technology Council.

The cost to attend Small Business Day at the State House is $15 per person and includes continental breakfast. To register, call 603-224-5388 x116 or visit nhbia.org.

SBA Announces Grant Funding to Increase Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The U.S. Small Business Administration is accepting grant funding proposals from eligible and well-established national organizations interested in providing training, guidance, counseling, mentoring and procurement assistance to small businesses in teaming arrangements, which may be in the form of a joint venture or prime and subcontractor relationship, under its new Small Business Teaming Pilot program. 

business-teamThe Small Business Teaming Pilot program was established by Congress under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.  Under this new program, the SBA expects to make 10-to-20 grant awards in the range of $250,000-$500,000 totaling up to $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2011.   

“The Small Business Jobs Act provides critical resources to help small businesses continue to drive economic recovery and create jobs,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “The teaming pilot program will help put contract dollars into the hands of small businesses, create job opportunities through the teaming arrangements, help drive innovation and promote economic growth for our nation’s economy.” 

To be eligible for these grant awards, an applicant must:

*be a private, non-profit or for-profit entity;
*have been in existence continually for the past three years;
*have experience dealing with issues relating to small business on a national level; and
*demonstrate that it has the capacity to provide assistance to small businesses.

Applicant organizations selected for these awards must leverage the funding received by the SBA by working in conjunction with SBA’s district offices and other federal, state, local and tribal government small business development programs, including: Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, SBA resource partners such as SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers, 7(j) technical assistance providers, universities, other institutions of higher education and private organizations such as chambers of commerce and trade and industry groups and associations.   

All proposals must be submitted electronically via the government-wide financial assistance portal www.grants.gov no later than 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2011.  For more information about the Small Business Teaming Pilot Program, visit: www.sba.gov/teaming.

Business Financing Made Simple

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Congrats to our Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis who was recently asked to serve as a columnist for the Portsmouth Herald. Here’s her latest column that centers around the question of how to best secure business financing:

How to get business financing?
Starting with a bank you know is best choice
By Christine Davis

It wasn’t a big surprise to receive a number of questions related to financing your business. Businesses face multiple challenges every day, but one thing that seems to trump them all is money. How do I get it, how do I generate more and how can I hang onto more of it?

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Let’s start with how do I get financing for my business? The person who sent this question has owned his business for a number of years, had a small dip in revenue but has regained profitability over the past two years. His first call to a large bank was unsuccessful and he wanted to know what would be the best next step.

I spoke with Rob Barry, our in-house NH Division of Economic Development finance expert, to see what he recommends without knowing the particulars. In general, we recommend that you first reach out to the institution where you currently bank. Just like in everything else, it often boils down to relationships. If you have got one, go there first. If they are unable to meet your needs, make sure you understand why and then consider what changes your business needs to make to become more bankable. Most loan requests that are rejected are done so because of weak financials or because a company does not have a long enough history of being profitable. In some cases, they may not have an appetite for the type of financing you are seeking. If you have a relationship with a large bank, you may want to consider looking at some of your local community banks. While banks all share some common requirements (good credit, positive cash flow and collateral) some may be more aggressive in certain lending areas than others.

Another source of financing may be your local community economic development corporation. For the Seacoast area, there is the Rockingham Economic Development Corporation in Exeter, the Coastal Economic Development Corporation in Hampton and the Seacoast Economic Development Corporation in Dover. Each one covers a specific area so you will need to check and see which one covers your location. The REDC provides loans to businesses for a variety of needs and may be able to work with a business that does not qualify for a traditional bank loan. If you have a weak spot on your financials, such as a low credit score, but good cash flow and collateral, you might be a good candidate for a REDC loan. Since it is taking on more risk, the rates are typically a bit higher than a traditional bank.

Another alternative source of funding is the NH Community Loan Fund in Concord. It offers both debt and equity financing to business owners. Micro loans start at $1,000 and business growth loans can go as high as $500,000. The Loan Fund is more risk-tolerant and may ask to provide some educational guidance and input.

I also wanted to respond to a question I received about getting grants for business development. In a nutshell, there aren’t any. If you get a call with someone offering to help you find grants in exchange for a fee, run. It’s a scam. While there are some federal grants available for some very specific industries and research projects, they are highly competitive and few and far between. You won’t find grants to buy new equipment or open up a shop on Main Street. There are grants available for training through the N.H. Job Training Fund, www.nhjobtrainingfund.org, but they are for training projects only. I will talk more about that gem of a fund another day.

To learn more about these and other financial resources you can visit our Web site, www.nheconomy.com.

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. All information is confidential, and I promise not to print your name, age, height, weight or marital status without your approval. You can write to me at: Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

International Finance Tools Seminar Scheduled

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Businesses interested in gaining an understanding of the many different programs available to support import and export needs are invited to take part in an “International Finance Tools” seminar being presented at the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development on January 20th from 9 a.m.-noon.

international-currencyPresented by the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center (NHITRC), this seminar is aimed at small to medium-sized businesses that want to understand different payment methods for their sales as well as the risks and benefits associated with each method. An array of finance programs from the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Export-Import Bank will be presented. Amongst the topics to be covered are obtaining export working capital loans, securing payments from overseas, financing activities that allow your business to expand its global presence and effective payment options to offer your international clients.

Registration is priced at $40 per person. For details, please visit www.exportnh.org/calendar/registration.aspx. For questions, contact Ellie White at (603) 271-8444 or ellie.white@dred.state.nh.us

Administered by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development’s Office of International Commerce, the ITRC plans, develops and administers programs for international trade promotion and foreign market development.  For more information about the ITRC, call (603) 271-8444, or visit their website at www.exportnh.org

New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility Launches 2011 Sustainability Webinar Series

Monday, January 10th, 2011

New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR) is proud to announce the launch of their 2011 Sustainability Webinar Series.

nhbsr-webinarThe NHBSR monthly Webinar Series offers NHBSR members an innovative opportunity to publicize corporate social responsibility (CSR) best- practices to like-minded businesses in a real-time, interactive forum. The series is uniquely designed to be accessible to the New Hampshire business community and beyond. The convenient and easy to use format enables businesses to connect around CSR issues and learn ways to become more environmentally sustainable, improve workplace culture, support local communities, all while boosting the bottom line. Furthermore, webinars are environmentally friendly. While nothing will ever replace the value of interpersonal exchanges, the webinar series provides a venue to learn and share from each other while lessoning carbon emissions.

“Now in our third year of providing best practices and expertise on corporate social responsibility and sustainability for busy business professionals, NHBSR has developed a great line-up yet of valuable ‘bottom line oriented’ webinars. The 2011 series includes subject matter for a variety of audiences including; human resource directors, marketing professionals, environmental managers and the C-Suite,” said NHBSR Executive Director Molly Hodgson Smith.

The 2011 Webinar Series will kick off this Wednesday, January 12th with Sustainability Strategy for the Long Haul, followed by Promoting Sustainability – Inside and Out on February 9, Nonprofit Board Service: What You Need to Know on March 9, Why Build Green? You Do the Math! on April 13, Empowering (and Connecting) Employees to Work Remotely on May 11, Green Paper, Green Forests on June 8, How to Build a Workplace Culture of Leadership and Engagement on September 14, Management Systems and Sustainability at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters on October 12, Solidifying a Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility and Beyond on November 9, and Corporate Social Responsibility 2.0 and Beyond: The Next Challenges and Opportunities for Corporate Leadership on December 14.

Webinars are free to all employees of NHBSR member companies and $25 for non-members. Regular series webinars take place on the second Wednesday of each month at noon. Attendance on NHBSR’s webinars is typically over 25 business professionals including owners, CEO’s, and middle/upper management personnel.

NHBSR is a statewide not-for-profit membership organization that fosters socially and environmentally responsible business, recognizing that people, principles and profits must be linked. To register for a webinar or to learn more about NHBSR, please visit www.nhbsr.org, email Program Director Kate Luczko at kate@nhbsr.org or call (603) 391-7437.

SBA Puts More Capital, Assistance behind Small Business Exporting

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Export-related loans to small businesses approved under the Jobs Act provisions have reached nearly $110 million as of Dec. 31, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today. 

exports“The Jobs Act builds on the efforts already underway through the National Export Initiative by providing SBA with additional tools to help small businesses tap into the global market,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “We know that to take that next step to begin exporting or expand into a new market a small business often needs both financial and counseling resources.  

“The Jobs Act strengthened SBA’s ability to provide assistance in both those areas by enhancing our export loan programs and also making counseling and technical assistance more accessible. Already, we’re seeing these tools put to use by small businesses that are in a position to grow and create good-paying jobs in their communities.” 

The Jobs Act, signed into law on Sept. 27, raised SBA 7(a) export-related loan limits to $5 million.  SBA helps small business exporters through three different export loan programs: Export Express, Export Working Capital Loan and International Trade Loan.  The Jobs Act greatly enhances the tools the SBA has to help small business exporters grow.  

The Act:

·         Helps provide sufficient capital for small businesses looking to start or expand their exporting efforts, the law increased the maximum size of 7(a) International Trade Loans and Export Working Capital Loans to $5 million, up from $2 million, both with 90 percent guaranties.

·         Makes the agency’s Export Express loan, which offers a streamlined application process, permanent with a 90 percent guaranty for loans up to $350,000 and 75 percent for loans between $350,000 and $500,000.

·         Provides $90 million in grants over three years beginning in mid-2011 for states to help small business owners start or grow their exporting efforts.

·         Makes counseling and technical assistance more accessible by increasing the SBA’s staff and other resources available to small business. 

For a list of current SBA export lenders, visit http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/internationaltrade/lenders/index.html 

President Obama has called for doubling the nation’s exports to support creating two million jobs in the next five years. SBA has taken target steps to strengthen its partnership with other federal agencies involved in international trade, creating new tools to help small businesses both begin exporting and grow their exports, and making loans to exporters more accessible.   

The National Export Initiative also called for the creation of a new Cabinet-level focus on exports, expanding export financing (which in part is fulfilled by the new SBA loan limits,) prioritizing government advocacy on behalf of U.S. exporters, and providing new resources to U.S. businesses seeking to export, among other things. 

For more information on export services for small businesses or to find local counseling and technical assistance resources, please visit www.export.gov.

Wivell Featured in January “Ask-the-Expert” Online Forum

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Congrats to International Trade Resource Center Director Dawn Wivell who has been selected as January’s “Ask-the-Expert” online forum expert in coordination with the Union Leader and the Amoskeag Business Incubator. Here’s the write-up that recently appeared in the UL.

New Hampshire businesses curious about expanding into foreign markets can be daunted by the seemingly endless questions involved in international trade.

dawn20wivellHowever, New Hampshire has experienced record highs in export sales for the past three years, and with the majority of the Granite State’s businesses classified as small businesses, the climate may be exactly right for your business answer those questions and enter the global marketplace.

January’s “Ask-the-Expert” online forum features Dawn Wivell, director of the state’s International Trade Resource Center. In an article penned for the Expert series, Wivell says, “As you plan for the growth and stability of your business, it is a good thing to remember that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Enormous opportunities exist for U.S. exports in the developing markets, many of which represent the world’s fastest growing economies.”

She encourages New Hampshire businesses to consider exporting in 2011, and is available for expert advice and questions through the forum online at www.unionleader.com and www.abi-nh.com.

First Class Business Segment to Feature Rimol Greenhouse Systems

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Talk about timing – on today’s “First Class Business” segment of “New Hampshire Today With Jack Heath,” Jack and New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Roy Duddy will be featuring Rimol Greenhouse System of Hooksett, NH, a company that made a major announcement today regarding a key strategic partnership. To learn more, listen to the segment on WTPL today at 4:05 p.m. at 107.7 FM or online at www.wtplfm.com or check out the press release below.


A New Hampshire greenhouse manufacturer and a California hydroponics company are hoping that their budding East/West relationship will be one that bears fruit for their customers and the environment.

Rimol Greenhouse Systems’ 30’ x 96’ Matterhorn Greenhouse with American Hydroponics’ hydroponic system pictured here is completely automated with environmental controls and provides watering and fertilizing to maximize production for hydroponic lettuce.  The two companies have entered a partnership for the mutual goal of providing growers with exceptional value and service in total design and implementation of greenhouses and hydroponic systems.

Rimol Greenhouse Systems’ 30’ x 96’ Matterhorn Greenhouse with American Hydroponics’ hydroponic system pictured here is completely automated with environmental controls and provides watering and fertilizing to maximize production for hydroponic lettuce. The two companies have entered a partnership for the mutual goal of providing growers with exceptional value and service in total design and implementation of greenhouses and hydroponic systems.

Hooksett, NH-based Rimol Greenhouse Systems (RGS) and Arcata, California-based American Hydroponics (AmHydro) announced today that they have entered a partnership for the mutual goal of providing growers with exceptional value and service in total design and implementation of greenhouses and hydroponic systems.

“Given the unprecedented rise of the hydroponics industry and the fact that more and more people are recognizing the benefits of locally grown food, this partnership makes sense on so many different levels,” said Rimol Greenhouse Systems Founder Bob Rimol. “As industry leaders in our individual disciplines, we understand that by partnering, we can offer our customers the best possible blueprint and game plan to grow healthier and safer food for themselves and their neighbors.”

Hydroponic plant cultivation is an efficient method of achieving maximum production in minimal space, without soil, by recirculating minerals dissolved in water. As an established branch of horticulture, hydroponics uses 1/10th the amount of water as a regular farm to produce the same amount of food.  When coupled with greenhouses, no harmful pesticides or herbicides are required ensuring optimum plant and human health.

RGS designs, manufactures and installs greenhouse structures and systems that control light, temperature (heating and cooling), CO2 and the overall environment. Even insect control is factored into the overall greenhouse design, which also takes into account the best crops to grow, budget and revenue expectations.

Located in a 16,000-square-foot manufacturing facility overlooking the foothills, green pastures and tall redwoods in Humboldt County, California, American Hydroponics has been providing state-of-the-art crop performance products and services for people to grow crops successfully for the past 26 years. American Hydroponics currently has the highest rate of successful growers using their commercial hydroponic systems than any other system manufacturer and looks forward to combining their skills and expertise with their new partner.

“RGS shares our belief that the well-being of the environment is everyone’s responsibility and that water and land conservation is more important than ever before,” said American Hydroponics President Michael Christian. “Recognizing the fact that a smarter approach to farming has become a necessity to preserve farmland and other natural resources, the synergy between our two companies is natural and the relationship extremely beneficial to our customers.”

One company that has already benefited from the partnership is Hackettstown, New Jersey-based Greenway Flowers, which has expanded their traditional floral business to also include hydroponic, food-producing greenhouses. With a new, state-of-the-art RGS greenhouse outfitted with an American Hydroponics lettuce growing system, Greenway is now diversifying their business and finding a new revenue stream.

“Today Mom and Pop florists have to compete against supermarkets, online companies and imported flowers.  In order to ensure our long-term sustainability as a business, we needed to branch out and add something new,” said Greenway Flowers Owner George Cummings. “With the greenhouse and lettuce growing systems, we have a new product, new customers and enhanced cash flow. Now, instead of just being florists, we’re also learning to farm.”

To learn more about RGS, visit www.rimolgreenhouses.com. To learn about the benefits of an American Hydroponics system, visit www.AmericanHydroponics.com.