Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tecumseh DDA Grant Programs

DDA Grant Programs

The Tecumseh Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has budgeted funds to assist businesses in improving their downtown properties. This will take place in the form of matching grants for exterior improvements to downtown buildings. The programs are as follows:
Façade Incentive Grant Program

This grant program was created to improve the economic vitality of downtown Tecumseh by encouraging private investment through historically sensitive rehabilitation and dramatic improvement of façades in downtown. The program offers a matching grant of up to $5,000 for eligible exterior improvements made to a qualified commercial building within the DDA District.
Sign Incentive Program

The sign incentive program seeks to bridge the gap in cost between unattractive signage and highly functional, attractive signs that complement downtown Tecumseh’s historic buildings thereby creating a more attractive Central Business District. The intent of the program is to encourage three dimensional, symbolic, projecting signs that emphasize the pedestrian nature of downtown Tecumseh. Applicants may seek a matching grant up to $500 to help offset the cost of new signage that fits these criteria. A copy of the Design Guidelines for Downtown Tecumseh can be obtained by contacting the DDA Office at 424-6003.

Grant Applications must be completed and submitted to the Tecumseh DDA Office in conjunction with the following application cycles: April 30th and September 30th. Applications will be accepted at any time during the calendar year; however, review and approval will take place after the above deadlines. The City of Tecumseh’s DDA Office is located at 112 South Ottawa Street. Questions can be directed to Paula Holtz at 424-6003 or

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Small loans to keep troubled firms afloat Washington Business Journal - by Kent Hoover Washington Bureau Chief

As reproted in the Washington Business Journal:

The economic stimulus package includes a $35,000 life preserver for small businesses drowning in red ink.
Under the law, the Small Business Administration temporarily will guarantee 100 percent of loans of up to $35,000 issued by banks to small businesses that are struggling to make payments on existing debt. The SBA will subsidize the interest on the loan, and small businesses will have a year before they have to start repaying it.
“Our committee has heard from many firms who could be viable and grow again if they could only buy a little time,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Small Business Committee. “This new program was designed with these firms in mind.”
The loan amount may be small, but the program could help many small businesses, said Edward Tuvin, a former SBA lender who now is managing director of Creative Capital Associates, a Silver Spring factoring business.
By using banks to make these loans instead of making them itself, the SBA also “keeps bankers employed,” Tuvin said.
The stabilization loan program is one of several provisions in the stimulus package aimed at making the SBA a more effective source of assistance to small businesses during the recession. The final bill, however, does not include a House provision that would have enabled the SBA itself to make loans to small businesses if its network of private-sector lenders turned them down.
The law gives the SBA $375 million so it can temporarily eliminate or reduce fees on its regular 7(a) and 504 business loans. Lending through both programs is down dramatically this year. Slashing the fees should make the loans more attractive to borrowers and lenders.
The SBA also is authorized to guarantee up to 90 percent of 7(a) loans, except for loans made through the SBA Express program. The current guarantee limits are 75 percent for loans above $150,000 and 85 percent for smaller loans.
The increased government guarantee will “provide a higher level of protection for risk-weary lenders,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.
The legislation also allows small businesses to use the 504 program to refinance existing loans under certain conditions.
Nonprofit organizations will receive $6 million in additional funds to make microloans of up to $35,000 to businesses with 10 or fewer employees. An additional $24 million will be used to provide technical assistance to those companies.
The stimulus bill also includes steps to thaw the frozen secondary market for SBA loans. Many lenders must be able to sell their existing SBA loans to have enough capital to make new loans. The legislation allows the SBA to make loans to broker-dealers who purchase 7(a) loans and then pool them for sale to investors.
The new law also aims to unfreeze the secondary market for first-lien loans in the 504 program, which is used for real estate and other fixed assets. The SBA will guarantee pools of these loans, making them less risky than other mortgage-backed securities.
In addition, the bill temporarily increases the SBA’s guarantee on surety bonds from $2 million to $5 million, which “will allow more small businesses to compete for more federal projects, creating jobs now, investing in America’s future and helping to drive us out of this recession,” said Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md.

Monday, February 23, 2009

MEDC names Gregory Main new CEO by: Tom Henderson

As reported on Crains Detroit Business...

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced Friday afternoon that pending formal approval by the board of directors on Feb. 26, D. Gregory Main will replace James Epolito as president and CEO of the economic development organization effective April 1.

Eopolito had announced in January that he was leaving the MEDC to become president of Delta Dental of Michigan and president of its parent company, Renaissance of America.

Main, a 1970 graduate of Michigan State University, was with the state’s Department of Commerce from 1983-1991 and was secretary of commerce in Oklahoma from 1991-1994.

He was a partner in a Research Triangle firm in North Carolina, Intersouth Partners, from 1994-1998; general partner in a $66 million venture capital firm in Oklahoma City, Chisholm Private Capital Partners, from 1998-2002; and president and CEO of i2E Inc., a technology commercialization organization in Oklahoma City, from 2002 till last June.

“Greg Main is tested, proven economic developer with everything it takes — focus, energy and tech savvy — to bring new investments and jobs to our state,” said Matthew Cullen, chairman of the MEDC executive committee, in a press release.

“Jim Epolito has led Michigan’s economic development with vision and vigor through one of our state’s most trying times. We cannot thank him enough,” said Cullen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SBA Warns of Fraudulent Attempts to Obtain Bank Account Information from Small Businesses

Release Date: February 18, 2009
Contact: Mike Stamler (202) 205-6919
Release Number: 09-11
Internet Address:

SBA Warns of Fraudulent Attempts to Obtain Bank Account Information from Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration issued a scam alert today to small businesses, warning them not to respond to letters falsely claiming to have been sent by the SBA asking for bank account information in order to qualify them for federal tax rebates.

The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate. The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number.

These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them.

The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as “phishing” that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access and individual’s bank accounts or to engage in identity theft.

The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at 1 (800) 767-0385, or e-mail at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MI-SBTDC Google Workshops

As an entrepreneur in today's fast growing e-commerce society it may be difficult to understand how your business can make its mark on the World Wide Web. The MI-SBTDC has joined forces with Google to promote a series of workshops designed to help your business to become more efficient and stand out from the crowd.

Google Workshop topics include:

Getting Started with AdWords, March 3rd, In this workshop, we walk users through the AdWords sign-up wizard and provide tips for creating an effective AdWords account. See how to develop a keyword list, create an ad text, and set a daily budget. You will leave with your own AdWords account and knowledge on the resources and tools available to Google AdWords users.

Optimize Your AdWords Account, March 10th, In this workshop, we will focus on strategies and resources to help optimize your existing AdWords campaign. An optimization can help improve account performance, whether that be an increase of impressions, clicks or conversions come learn how to optimize your account's performance.

Being Productive with Google, March 18th, In this workshop, users will learn about various Google products that can help you be efficient and organized in your day-to-day activities. The various products being covered include: Gmail (Google Email), Google Documents, Google Chat and Google Form to name a few.

Google Grants, March 25th, In this workshop, 501(c)(3) organizations will learn how Google AdWords can help promote their organization and mission. We will focus on what Google AdWords is and on how to apply for a Google Grants award.

All sessions will be offered from 5:00- 6:00pm in the Google offices in down town Ann Arbor, 201 S Division St # 500. Seats are limited so please register in advance for this informative series. To register please visit

For mor information please email:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Is Your Small Business Fiscally Fit? by: Jennifer Deamud

When you receive the financial reports from your accountant what do you do with them? If you take a quick glance and put them in a file how do you know if your business is fiscally fit and financially stable?

However, if you're looking at benchmarks and metrics monthly, and using your financial information as the basis for all your business decisions your business is probably on the path toward being fiscally fit.

Small business owners often make several mistakes with their business financial(s) analysis and planning which handicaps their ability to be successful and grow. The four biggest and crushing mistakes are; not budgeting and forecasting, not knowing the break-even point and not analyzing the company's ratios and comparing them to the industry. And finally, many businesses expand without first making sure that the business can afford it. Many businesses have grown themselves out of business.

So what are the indicators of financial/ fiscal fitness and why are these aspects of business financials so important? How do they help you, the small business owner, meet the challenge to not only maintain and but also improve your fiscal fitness which is a key component of your competitive advantage?

Budgeting and forecasting help develop a business model, review your key assumptions and identify resources and capital needs. They can also be used as a management tool by establishing milestones and the accountability for accomplishing the milestones. Budgets and forecasts help identify risks and establish benchmarks. This will help the small business owner make the necessary adjustments to manage risks, reach milestones and measure up to benchmarks.

Knowing the break-even point for your business is a tool that enables you to plan for the future with a solid foundation. Break-even point allows you very accurately project how many sales you need to make, what you need to do to achieve that level of sales and even how much you can increase profitability by cutting.

Most small business owners focus on the growth of their business rather than profitability determining their break-even point. It's natural to focus on growth but profits are essential for any small business. Therefore, knowing your break-even point is essential to the overall business operation and is the key to strategic planning and maintaining and increasing profitability during the long term.

Ratio analysis is a method for determining the overall financial condition of your small business. It puts the information from your financial statement into perspective, helping to spot financial patterns that may threaten the health of your business.

For example, current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities) is the standard measure of any business' financial health. It will tell you whether your business is able to meet its current obligations by measuring if it has enough assets to cover its liabilities. The current ratio should be part of your business' basic financial planning, meaning it should be tracked monthly or quarterly and compared to a baseline that is meaningful to your business. By keeping a close eye on this figure, you will recognize if it begins to get out of line. This will allow you to take early action to prevent your business from ending up in a difficult negative cash flow position.

Ratios are also very useful for making comparisons between your business and other businesses in your industry. For example, comparing ratios can indicate whether a business is holding too much inventory or collecting receivables too slowly. This comparison provides a window into ways your business can improve its operations. A number of sources, including many trade or business associations and organizations, provide data for comparison purposes; they are also available from commercial services.

Also making decisions to grow your business first requires a careful analysis of the current financial situation to determine your business' readiness for growth using all the previously mentioned indicators of fiscal fitness. Two essential elements in being fit to grow is a) the ability to generate cash from your current business operations to support future growth, and b) the level of your business' financial stability which gives you the ability to obtain external funding.

If you are making any of these financial fitness mistakes what should you do? You should speak with your accountant first, who should be a trusted business advisor. Accountants are extremely busy doing a difficult job against tight deadlines so they may refer you to a business consultant for an in-depth look at your financials.

The experienced business consultants at the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center™ (SBTDC™) assist small business owners one-on-one, at no cost, to understand their financials, and to use the above financial tools and analysis to become more fiscally fit.

In addition to talking with a business consultant, there are seminars that help small business owners understand their financials. Fiscal Fitness for the Growing Business seminar is presented by the SBTDC™ and sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. The seminar is offered statewide and provides business owners with an in-depth look at the essentials of using financial information to make effective decisions about improving their business performance. Thanks to the sponsor ship Fifth Third Bank, this seminar is offered at low cost to the participants.

Please see the link provided to register for the upcoming Fiscal Fitness for the Growing Business seminar on February 20, from 8:00am to Noon, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College. Cost: $25.00 reduced from $75.00 thanks to our sponsor 5/3 Bank.

Friday, February 13, 2009

MLive Free Basic Business

MLive offers a great benefit for local businesses in Michigan with a free basic web listing in their 'Business Finder'. Most businesses currently have a page and are unaware of its existence. If the site is unused it provides your contact information along with a map of your location. If there is not a current listing for your business one can be created at no cost to the Michigan business owner. Once you obtain your free listing you can upload one image, create one link to another website, compose a description of products or services, list hours of operation, describe parking availability, list payment types, as well as explain directions to your place of business. Additional items are available at a cost through the MLive Bronze, Silver, and Print & Online packages. Please visit the MLive link provided for more information.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chelsea Michigan Kitchen Incubator Project

Today began the first in a series of meetings to discuss the possibility of creating a Kitchen Incubator in the Washington Street Education Center. This plan would take advantage of the existing cafeteria kitchen space by repurposing it for local entrepreneurs. As this was an initial brainstorming meeting specific details were not discussed rather a broad range of topics related to the success or failure of this new venture. The discussion was organized yet still very open and conducive for creative thoughts thanks to the presenting team of Victoria Bennett and Krissa Rumsey, of Washtenaw Community College.

Many local citizens were among the crowd including the Mayor Ann Feeney, Chelsea City Manager, John Hanifan, David Bloom of Ann Arbor SPARK, and Marie-Ann Fody owner of Zou Zou’s Café. The community seems very interested if not outright supportive of the plan for utilizing and reclaiming this space.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Team SBA Roundtable

Are you trying to start, expand or purchase a business and need financing? Would you like to meet with bankers and SBA loan officers to discuss your needs? Do you want to learn how a lender analyzes your loan request and what they look for in an application?
Team SBA is a roundtable session where you can learn what is required from a lender. You will have opportunities to meet with business counselors who can help you prepare your loan request for the bank.

February 12, 2009
4-6:30pm Cost: Free

MI-SBTDC Offices
301 W. Michigan Ave
Suite 101
Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Reserve:734.547.9170