Category: Business Written by Diane I. Daniels
LEADING THE CHARGE—Marie Johns, deputy administrator of the US Small Business Administration visits Pittsburgh spreading the word about the SBA. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)
Access to capital, counseling and contracting support for small businesses are three tools the U.S. Small Businesses Administration offers its clients. Designed to provide assistance in helping small businesses start and grow, the SBA functions in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam. The local office, covering a 27 county region is located at 411 Seventh Avenue in Suite 1450.
Recently in Pittsburgh, SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns met with area federally funded agencies geared toward helping small businesses as well as Faith-based and community organization leaders and small business owners. Discussion focused on the needs of businesses in the region, what the SBA can be doing to support job creation and to assure that participants are aware of the programs and resources provided by the Administration to help them grow, hire and succeed. Conscious of what it takes to operate a small business, Johns says her focus is to ensure that entrepreneurs in underserved communities have the resources, relationships, and tools they need to start businesses and to create good-paying jobs.
“My grandfather owned a lawn care business in Indiana. I know what it is like and what it takes to operate a small business,” she said.
Throughout its 60-year history nationally and locally, the SBA is credited for assisting millions. Understanding that access to capital is a major obstacle for any size business, Johns pointed out that the SBA offers a range of loan programs for very specific purposes and is currently developing two more.
Indicating that the SBA does not directly loan money, she stressed that they work with federal, state and local entities.
Known for its technical assistance, the SBA offers free counseling, advice and information on starting, better operating or expanding a business. Assistance comes through one-on-one meetings, through training, counseling and business-development programs.
Partnerships are something Johns and local District Director Carl Knoblock stress are very important.
“Resource partners are key to bringing services to the table as well as serving as outreach sources,” said Johns. “We are always looking for new partners and a ways to spread the word about our services. Faith-based and community organizations serve as good sources. We want to form strategic alliances with groups not just locally but nationally as well.”
Knoblock listed the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania State, the Penn State Data Center, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/Business Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of Business and Industry as a few local resources.
While outlining resources, Johns listed Pittsburgh as having a strong Senior Core of Retired Executive Center, two Women’s Business Centers at Chatham University, E-Magnify at Seton Hill, and the area Small Business Development Centers.
When questioned about programs for young people interested in entrepreneurship, Johns indicated that a pilot program is being initiated in some regions in conjunction with the Department of Labor and being tried out at Job Corp sites.
Pittsburgh is just one of the many stops Johns and senior SBA officials are making as they travel the country spreading the word about the President’s messages from the State of the Union, as well as the resources offered by the SBA to help small business owners and entrepreneurs—particularly those in underserved communities—succeed as part of the Administration’s efforts to help strengthen the middle class.
Johns, nominated by President Barak Obama has been deputy administrator since 2010. Her responsibilities include managing the agency and developing programs and policies. During her tenure, it is reported that she has led the SBA for the past two years in record breaking lending, supporting more than $30 billion in loans annually. She works with the President’s senior advisors at the White House ensuring that more federal contracts are awarded to small businesses. She also serves as the chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development.
Committed to the SBA mission of helping small businesses, Knoblock said he does so by using SBA programs: government contracting, guarantor of loans, advocacy, disaster assistance, and technical assistance. The Arizona native is known for his dedication and deep passion of helping small businesses succeed and create economic development in the region.
A former entrepreneur and retired Navy vet, he uses his expertise and knowledge to direct local entrepreneurs at all levels.
Both Johns and Knoblock think this is a good time to start a business as the economic recovery takes root.
“The Pittsburgh region has good things going on and now is the time to connect with the SBA and use the skill sets that you have,” said Johns.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:53
Category: Business Written by Courier Newsroom
Social Media Workshop
FEB. 28—Pittsburgh Gateway Corporation will host Jessica Lee’s Entrepreneurial Thursdays Jazz and Blues Networking from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Little E’s, 949 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. Every Thursday jazz and R&B vocalist Jessica Lee, along with some of Pittsburgh’s finest musical artists, will host an evening of good music and professional networking. Each week will have a different theme; this week’s will be “Hip, Urban Living.” The cost is $5 and the attire is business casual. For more information, visit www.jessicaleesong.com.
MARCH 7—The MWDBE Governmental Committee will host the 12th Annual Conference for Minority, Women and Disadvantage Business Enterprises from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the IBEW Conference Center, 3 Hot Metal St., South Side. The theme is “Mind Your Ps: Preparation, Process, Procurement and Performance.” Guest panelists will be Greg Spencer, Barbara Weaver, Elizabeth Bowers, Deborah Wojcik and Nathan Heitzman. Registration is required. For more information, call 412-402-2460.
The First Step
Brown Bag Lunch
QuickBooks Made Easy
(To have information on Business Calendar, send information at least two weeks in advance to: 315 E. Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219; Fax: 412-481-1360 or e-mail: newsroom@ newpittsburghcourier.com.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:50
Category: Business Written by Courier Newsroom
Orlando, Fla. – The American International Automobile Dealers Association has announced Centerville, Ohio, dealer Jenell Ross as its 2013 chairwoman. Ross took over the position during AIADA’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon, earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.
“Our brands, more than ever before, are America’s brands – and I’m going to tell that story,” said Ross during the meeting. “In 2013, we are no longer bogged down by the natural and economic disasters that hobbled us for the past five years. Now is the time to surge forward and grow our businesses, claim new market share, and ensure our continued strength and sustainability.”
Ross is the president of Bob Ross Automotive, which operates Buick, GMC, Fiat, and Mercedes-Benz franchises in the Dayton, Ohio, area. She inherited the role from her father and mother who founded the dealership group in 1974. Mercedes-Benz of Centerville was the first Mercedes-Benz dealership to be owned by an African American and is currently the only one owned by an African American woman.
Ross has been a member of AIADA’s board of directors since 2000 and is an active member of the auto retail industry, as well as her community. In 2012, she created the “Pink Ribbon Driven” campaign on behalf of her mother, Norma Ross, who died from breast cancer. Her community involvement includes the Diversity Council for the Centerville-Washington Township, the Miami School Alumni Council, and the Dayton Chamber of Commerce’s Minority Business Partnership.
Also during the meeting, AIADA recognized Cincinnati dealer Mike Dever with its 2013 David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is named after the late AIADA chairman who was known throughout the auto retail industry for his commitment to his community and the industry. Dever is a 45-year veteran of the auto retail industry and operates nine dealerships in Ohio, Kentucky, and Utah.
“Mike embodies the very best of America’s international nameplate dealer community. Much like Dave Mungenast himself, Mike’s success as a dealer is only surpassed by his reputation as someone who has invested his time and resources into improving his community,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “I can think of no one better to honor with this year’s award.”
AIADA’s 2013 officers of the board of directors are: Jenell Ross, chairwoman (Centerville, Ohio); Ray Mungenast, immediate past chairman (St. Louis, Mo.); Larry Kull, chairman-elect (Marlton, N.J.); and Greg Kaminsky, secretary/treasurer (El Cajon, Calif.).
Last Updated on Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:34
Category: Business Written by Associated Press
CONNECTING MORE--Mahrinah von Schlegel, managing director of Cibola, an incubator for tech entrepreneurs that will open this spring, checks a social networking site at her office in Chicago, with her cell phone nearby. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
by Martha Irvine
CHICAGO (AP) — Technology is supposed to make us easier to reach, and often does. But the same modes of communication that have hooked us on the instant reply also can leave us feeling forgotten.
We send an email, a text or an instant chat message. We wait — and nothing happens. Or we make a phone call. Leave a voicemail message. Wait. Again, nothing.
We tend to assume it's a snub, and sometimes it is.
Erica Swallow, a 26-year-old New Yorker, says she's heard a former boyfriend brag about how many text messages he never reads. "Who does that?" she asks, exasperatedly.
These days, though, no response can mean a lot of things. Maybe some people don't see messages because they prefer email and you like Twitter. Maybe we're just plain overwhelmed, and can't keep up with the constant barrage of communication.
Whatever the reason, it's causing a lot of frustration. A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 39 percent of cell phone owners say people they know complain because they don't respond promptly to phone calls or text messages. A third of cell owners also have been told they don't check their phones frequently enough.
It happens in love. It happens in business.
"Tell me to go to hell, but just tell me something! I'm getting lonely over here." That's what Cherie Kerr, a public relations executive in Santa Ana, Calif., jokes she's considered putting after her email signature.
It happens in families.
Last year, Terri Barr, a woman on Long Island, N.Y., with grown children, sent her son a birthday present — a $350 gift certificate for "a wonderful kayaking trip for six, lunch, wine, equipment," she says.
She sent him an email with the details, but he didn't respond. She says she then telephoned and texted him to tell him it was a present. He eventually sent a one-line email, she says, telling her he was too swamped to open her email gift right then.
Instant communication "can be wonderful — but also terrible," says Barr, who shared the story more as a lament of modern communication than a reprimand of her son, whose busy work life, she acknowledged, often takes him overseas.
So this year, she sent him a birthday gift by snail-mail in a box. "He actually opened it," she says, and they've been talking more frequently since then.
Many other people, though, sit waiting for responses that never come.
"That's where the frustration lies — it's in the ambiguity," says Susannah Stern, a professor of communication studies at San Diego State University.
Though we often assume the worst, experts say we shouldn't.
Frequently, they say, people simply — and unknowingly — choose the wrong way to contact someone.
"I admit to having often been lax with checking my work number voicemail, which has led to me not responding to people waiting for my reply," says Janet Sternberg, an assistant professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University.
She's also had technical glitches. For instance: thinking she'd sent a text message to someone overseas and then, when he didn't respond, realizing she had his international number programmed incorrectly in her phone.
"The sheer management of all these devices and channels is exhausting and sometimes daunting, leaving less and less time for actual communication," Sternberg says. "We connect more but communicate less, in many ways."
That's why many people say they have no choice but to prioritize — and to respond only to the most urgent messages.
That describes Mahrinah von Schlegel, who's working to launch a Chicago-based "incubator" that will offer shared office space and other resources for fledgling tech entrepreneurs.
"People get angry when not answered and send multiple messages," says von Schlegel, the 30-year-old managing director of the firm, known as Cibola. She says missed communication has caused her to lose some business deals. Often, it's when people try to contact her by Facebook or direct message on Twitter and she doesn't see the messages for days. Email, she says, is her preferred mode of communication.
But even then, she says, there are only so many hours in the day: "I still need time to eat and sleep and shower."
As she sees it, getting no response — even when she's the one unsuccessfully trying to contact someone — is just part of life in a high-tech world. A lot of young people say that, so they've become accustomed to having to try again, or try a different mode of communication if something is truly urgent.
"I think there's this understanding because we've grown up being bombarded by communication," says Mike Gnitecki, a 28-year-old special education teacher in Longview, Texas.
So he's willing to try "multiple points of contact" when trying to reach his students' parents — because, if he wants a response, "that's just how it is."
David Gillman, a 25-year-old Chicagoan, also opts for brevity and efficiency by sending mass texts to several friends at once to save time.
He only expects those who have time or inclination to respond, and doesn't take it personally if they don't.
It gets trickier, he says, with people from older generations, including his parents, because they like to leave him voicemails, which he doesn't like to take time to check.
"I need to get better about that," he concedes.
Those types of missed communications — and a lack of response — can cause "turbulence" in a relationship, says Dan Faltesek, an assistant professor of social media at Oregon State University. But, he adds, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"It can be a little awkward, but you should talk to people about how you like to talk," Faltesek says. "Everyone will be happier when they say what the rules are."
And it'll go even more smoothly, he says, when people are willing to step outside their own favorite mode of communication to those preferred by the person they're contacting.
"Use the reverse golden rule," Faltesek advises. "Treat others the way THEY like to be treated."
An example: Gnitecki, the teacher in Texas, is considering sending a survey home to ask parents how they'd like to be contacted.
Tech and communication experts agree that choosing a primary means of communication, and letting it be known, is one way to improve communication.
Rebecca Otis, content and social media manager at Digital Third Coast, an Internet marketing firm in Chicago, also recommends getting rid of email and social media accounts you don't check regularly. And text messaging, she says, should be reserved for communication that requires a more urgent reply.
Finding ways to prioritize, and receive, the most important messages also helps.
San Francisco-based AwayFind Inc. is among companies that have developed applications that help filter email — in this instance, alerting users to important emails on their mobile devices.
In the end, we can't possibly respond to everything, says Jared Goralnick, the company's founder and CEO, who's also part of a nonprofit group called the Information Overload Research Group, which looks for ways to deal with out-of-control communication.
As he sees it, it's good to be responsive, "but not to set an expectation that you'll be available for everything."
"That's just not sustainable," he says.
In other words, if we're going to keep our sanity, we'll sometimes have to accept the no response.
On the Internet:
Information Overload Research Group: http://iorgforum.org/
Martha Irvine is a national writer for The Associated Press. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org or at http://twitter.com/irvineap
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:26
Category: Business Written by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil
(NNPA)—It’s award season. And so far what a season it’s been. Kelly Rowland was stunning in her gown during the 55th Grammy Awards, which LL Cool J hosted, while more than 28 million viewers tuned in. Surprisingly, that’s not as many as the 40 million who watched the previous year. How can that be with LL Cool J and all? Well, remember, last year’s Grammys followed the death of the late great Whitney Houston, and millions tuned in just to watch the tribute to her.
The 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards delivered its biggest overall audience in four years, and matched its highest adult 18-49 rating since that same year. Three million tuned in to this year’s show versus 2.9 million last year—a 3 percent increase in total viewers.
Nielsen insights show that African-Americans are more inclined to watch TV shows and movies that include characters portrayed by people who look like us. So are you ready for this year’s Academy Awards?
With nominees like the adorable, uber-talented 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (Best Actress in a Leading Role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and the always amazing (and handsome, too), Denzel Washington (Best Actor in a Leading Role in “Flight”), Hollywood’s biggest night could again draw a record Black viewing audience (I may just host a Denzel viewing party myself). Additionally, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Django Unchained” are nominated for best picture. Both have African-American stars in leading roles. “Django” features Jaime Foxx, the lovely Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Last year’s broadcast of the Academy Awards was the second-highest rated awards show among African-Americans with about 3 million Black viewers, according to Nielsen’s African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report. It was a big year for Black Hollywood as well. The fabulous Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were both nominated for “The Help,” and Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie. Remember the 2010 Academy Awards? African-American viewership for that year was up a whopping 43 per cent over the previous year. We represented 11 percent of the 26.8 million Americans who tuned in. Again, we had major representation that year. The highly acclaimed movie “Precious,” had multiple nominations, including Best Supporting Actress won by comedienne Mo’Nique, and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe was nominated for Best Actress. Also, the venerable Morgan Freeman won Best Actor for his role in “Invictus.”
Turning to the movies themselves, according to Nielsen National Research Group’s 2012 American Movie-Going Report, 70 percent of Americans ages 12-74 reported seeing one or more movies at a theater in the last year. The survey, conducted among a representative group of more than 3,000 Americans across age, gender and race, shows that overall attendance for new release movies was pretty much the same as a year ago—an average of 6.8 movies per person compared with 6.9 in 2011. African-Americans comprise 11 percent of the movie-going population, led by the Baby Boomers in our group. And, according to the African-American Consumer Report, these were our top 10 movies for the first half of 2012 and the gross box office earnings:
1. Think Like A Man, $91,547,205
2. Madea’s Witness Protection, $55,611,721
3. Red Tails, $49,875,589
4. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, $35,010,192
5. Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, $1,201,562
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild, $1,692,675
7. Pariah, $758,099
8. A Beautiful Soul, $54,008
9. Restless City, $8,106
10. Elevate, $3,547
Hispanics are the heaviest movie-goers, representing 18 percent of the movie-going population and accounting for 25 percent of all movies seen. The American Movie-Going report shows that although there were slightly more female movie-goers (51 percent) than male movie-goers, 49 percent), men nonetheless accounted for 55 percent of theatrical attendance.
While it’s always fun to root for our favorites during awards season and see how our movie-going trends vary—or not—from year-to-year, this is big business. Hollywood speaks fluent “green,” as in moolah, or cash. Our behavior is watched very closely by the entertainment industry and advertisers who tailor their products, their decisions and the way they reach you according to how you choose to wield your economic clout at the box office with your pocketbook or with your remote at home. So, if you enjoy seeing quality movies that are inclusive of Blacks, show up in large numbers when those movies come out. That’s truly the only way for everyone to have a happy ending.
(Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsenwire.com)
Last Updated on Friday, 22 February 2013 09:57
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