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By Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

Do you own a business based in the rural economy?  If you do, there have been two really great articles recently.  Whether you own/operate a farm, shop, or a service related to business in small towns across the country, you have probably recognized that you are the driver of economic growth and employment for your town or county.

This article details some trends and forecasts to expect in the coming months of 2011.  A couple key points from the article include the following. Farmers’ roles in society are quickly changing.  People are becoming more interested in knowing where their produce and meat is coming from and are paying attention to how it is grown/raised.  This can pay dividends for farmers seeking to connect to more customers and new supply chains.  Additionally, there has also been more attention paid to local businesses in rural areas, which can lead to growth and expansion opportunities.  On a related note, with tourist projections for 2011 being very promising, operators of businesses in small towns should pay more attention to attracting out of town visitors.  Additionally, the article mentions that this means that rural businesses need to begin to spend more time using social networking and other forms of advertising as small towns are catching up on the use of Google and other review sites to find and review businesses.

What else can we expect?  Well there is some troubling news ahead for businesses in rural areas.  With budget shortfalls affecting so many states, counties, and towns, individuals and business owners in rural areas may begin to feel the effects of budget cuts trickle down to them.  The article warns business owners to be aware that the budget shortfalls could mean that school consolidations and closing of post offices lay in store for many small towns.  Also, the article mentions the Health Care Reform law passed last year.  Some new things will be kicking in which will affect small businesses, including a 35% tax credit available to small businesses offering health insurance to its employees.  Very important to rural areas, there will also be an increased payment structure to rural medical centers and doctors, which will help to keep pace with increased demands for service. Read the rest of this entry »

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three-tips-for-entrepreneurs.jpgEvery time a grocery bagger said paper or plastic, Margaret Moss would cringe, envisioning the stashes of used bags in her car or kitchen.

Her yearning to go green eventually led to a business idea: a set of reusable bags that fit into a handy pouch. In 2009, after investigating consumer camping gear and experimenting with an old sewing kit, the mother of triplets launched Repax Bags LLC with partners Sammie Bohn and Valerie Fischer.

The Metairie, La.-based company is still tiny, bringing in annual revenue of about $30,000 in 2010. But it has succeeded in winning shelf space in Whole Foods Markets, Louisiana supermarket-chain Rouses and other U.S. grocery stories. Sets retail for about $20 and include four machine-washable bags, which can each hold up to 20 pounds.

As with many new entrepreneurs, every day is an adventure and brings new learning experiences, Moss says. Here are three lessons from her journey she shares with other new business owners.


1. Don’t look too far ahead.

It’s important to let your inspiration for the idea keep you motivated toward successfully creating the final product. For Repax, each new step brought big challenges but also brought creative solutions. If you look too far ahead, it can be overwhelming, so stick to the task at hand and find the best solutions for now.  Read the rest of this entry »

by José R. Mas, CEO,  MasTec

The introduction of smartphones like the iPhone and Android operated mobile phones has created a new avenue for businesses to effectively reach consumers.  The growth in applications (better known as “apps”) is skyrocketing and enabling businesses to cater their marketing efforts to mobile broadband users – a growing market with a high concentration of minority users.

According to a December 2010 survey conducted by Nielson, 31 percent of mobile phone users in the U.S. own smartphones.  Among these users, 45 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders and 33 percent of African Americans owned smartphones, compared to just 27 percent of White mobile phone users.   The survey also shows that minorities are leading the charge in increased mobile broadband adoption rates with these groups opting for smartphones at higher rates than White users. Read the rest of this entry »

as posted by LatinoInternetJustice:

by Jorge Bauermeister

As reported by TRDaily, FCC Chairman Genachowski addressed one specific issue as “particular concern” for minorities during the Minority Media and Telecom Council’s Broadband and Social Justice Policy Summit – that issue being spectrum.  Having also listened to the Chairman’s remarks at MMTC – I believe that this is certainly a worthwhile issue to highlight.

Here are the points outlined by TRDaily that I agree are important – and of which the Chairman honed in on during his speech:

  • The FCC is committed to making more spectrum available for wireless broadband services, calling the issue “a particular concern for minority communities” because wireless devices “have become the primary means for accessing the Internet” for many African Americans and Latinos.
  • According to Chairman Genachowski, broadband Internet access is “no longer a luxury” but is instead “a necessity for full participation in our 21st century economy.”

I am hopeful that the Commission will take greater care and time to assess important issues like spectrum since it is this very issue that serves as a building block for expanding and growing America’s wireless infrastructure and connecting minority users to this life altering service.  For Hispanics, whose use of mobile broadband devices are often times the primary means for accessing the Internet – the spectrum issue is that much more important since it is a critical component for enabling providers to deliver reliable and quality services to allconsumers.  Talks on this issue are now beginning to heat up in Washington, DC – only time will tell what side of the aisle the FCC will land on.

While so many in Congress and the White House seem entirely concerned about providing large loans to large, existing businesses for their development and expansion needs, we too often forget about businesses that historically produce the greatest number of jobs in the shortest amount of time:  small businesses.

The following article discusses the Micro Loan program of the SBA.  Keep in mind also, that, after a recent partnership with Accion, The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce is now one of these lenders and can help small (to VERY small) businesses to obtain one of these loans.  Just give us a call . . .

posted at ChamberofCommerce.com:

What You Need to Know About Micro Loans

The most tangible example of the micro loan exists in the United States, but did not originate in America. Originally conceived as a way to combat poverty, economist Muhammad Yunus received the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for originally devising the program to benefit the Bangladesh poor.

Now the concept is used widely by the Small Business Administration to benefit small businesses and entrepreneurs in the purchase of improvements, inventory and equipment. These loans also provide working capital to launch small businesses. Read the rest of this entry »

by Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

America has long been recognized as one of the most diverse and multicultural countries on the planet.  We have been referred to as the Melting Pot of both civilizations and the world.  Over the last few decades, countless individuals and families have come here to build a better life, escape persecution, and live their own version of the American Dream.  On a busy street corner in a large city you can hear numerous languages spoken other than English.  We shop at businesses owned and operated by immigrants and people of other ethnicities.

Commentators and activists have commented on this, some expressing pessimism and others seeing diversity as strength.  Several years back, there was a debate among sociologists about the process in which these diverse backgrounds were assimilating into the American lifestyle.  The uncertainty primarily stemmed from viewing immigrant protesters in France and throughout Europe complaining of discrimination.  In the case of America, for the most part there have not been equal or equivalent events.  This is not say that America handles racial issues perfectly – as a nation we have a checkered past with slavery, segregation, discrimination, and poor treatment of ethnic, religious, and immigrant groups.  However, it seems that America has been able to walk a delicate tightrope and maintain the principle that diversity is strength in the grand scheme. Read the rest of this entry »

by Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

President Obama laid the foundation of the general goals of his Administration for the coming months ahead.  Imploring a divided Congress to act in favor of enhancing America’s physical infrastructure through roads, railways, redesigning our ports and airports, making a more efficient energy grid, expanding research on green and alternative energy, and expanding access to broadband.  Encompassing all of these, President Obama argued that America’s economy will be stronger, produce better paying jobs, and be more competitive.

Public investment is not a new idea, and since the New Deal under FDR, politicians have been pushing agendas which encompass education, infrastructure, and technology.  In the 1990’s President Clinton had his own policy agenda which encompassed an investment in technology and research science after the breakthrough of technology like the PC and the internet.  Since Clinton, conservatives have been very skeptical of public investment in these areas, and President Bush pushed for investment in education through No Child Left Behind.  Even recently, President Obama, in advocating for the Recovery Act, stressed the importance of construction and infrastructure projects.  His idea hit strong Republican opposition, and infrastructure became a watered down portion of the stimulus.  Instead of pushing for the most crucial projects, the Administration looked to “shovel ready” ones which would put the hard hit construction sector back to work. Read the rest of this entry »

as posted here:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., /PRNewswire/ — 3G technology will account for 82 percent of total mobile subscriptions inPuerto Rico by 2015, according to a new report from Pyramid Research (www.pyr.com).

Puerto Rico: Network Improvements, Possible Operator Consolidation and a Capex Bonanza offers a precise profile of the country’s telecommunications, media, and technology sectors based on proprietary data from Pyramid’s research in the market. It provides detailed competitive analysis of both the fixed and mobile sectors, tracks the market shares of technologies and services, and monitors the introduction and spread of new technologies.

Download an excerpt of this report here: http://www.pyr.com/downloads.htm?id=18&sc=PRN011911_CIRPR

“Puerto Rico’s shrinking fixed voice market, in combination with a growing demand for data applications and contents, brings new revenue opportunities to local operators, both in the fixed and mobile segments,” says Eulalia Marin-Sorribes, Research Analyst at Pyramid. “As Puerto Rico has the highest 3G penetration in Latin America, operators are now trying to make customers use the technology for services beyond SMS and MMS by promoting the use of smartphones,” says Marin-Sorribes. Read the rest of this entry »

Por Julia Cortazar, Policy Analyst

¿Qué pasará con los pequeños empresarios del turismo en Puerto Rico en los próximos 10 años? Si te preguntas cuál será su futuro, entonces aquí te dejamos algunos puntos para que imagines hacia donde podría dirigirse el negocio.

En los últimos años la actividad económica del turismo se ha convertido en una de las que más ha crecido alrededor del mundo y lo que está sucediendo en Puerto Rico puede confirmarlo. Se estima que la economía del turismo genera cerca de $1,100 millones, sostiene alrededor de 60,000 empleos directos e indirectos y tiene una aportación aproximada al Producto Nacional Bruto (PBN) que sobrepasa el 7%. Además, la relevancia que está ganado el Turismo Sustentable, entendido como la actividad que contribuye a generar ingresos y empleos en el sector turístico para la población con un bajo impacto sobre el medio ambiente y la cultura local, al interior del sector. Por lo que el tamaño y la competitividad que la actividad del turismo está adquiriendo aumentan la confianza en ella como motor de crecimiento de la economía puertorriqueña.

Entonces, ¿Cómo pueden los pequeños empresarios beneficiarse con estos datos tan esperanzadores? Observemos el caso de los empresarios dueños de Paradores. Read the rest of this entry »

By: Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

Israel Ortega wrote a short piece in the Washington Caller, in which he praises Puerto Rico’s economic model which was laid out by Governor Luis Fortuno.  (The article can be found here).  Mr. Ortega has long been a conservative voice in the Hispanic policy community.  In his analysis, he lays out strong arguments supporting the governor’s economic policy including the overhaul of the tax code.

Mr. Ortega’s analysis is spot-on in some aspects.  Puerto Rico was in the midst of a serious economic crisis stemming from a lack of investment, slow economic growth, and ballooning government deficits only several years ago.  In the years that have followed, strong economic growth has been made, partially led by large amounts of investments made by foreign firms in technology and life sciences.  The investments made by these firms were not a product of an economic miracle, but rather a product of opening up the island to business by producing an investment friendly environment, simplifying the tax code, and lowering the tax rate.  We have seen this have a positive effect for domestic firms and small entrepreneurs.

Additionally, Mr. Ortega is right in saying that Governor Fortuno has succeeded in establishing an administration which has managed the economy rather well – including cutting the size of government and spending.  Reducing spending has helped the island reduce its expenditures and become much less conscious of raising revenues with additional taxes.  Lower taxes allow businesses and individuals to have more money and to spend it within the economy, which has created a multiplier effect and increasing growth rates.

However, Mr. Ortega’s analysis misses a key point – the new tax system adopted in Puerto Rico under Governor Fortuno’s plan has a very economically damaging aspect to it. Read the rest of this entry »

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