Published by the National Small Business Association
FALL ISSUE - 2009
Volume 23, Issue 3
Even in a recession entrepreneurs are finding that going green can result in making some green. Is your small business part of the EcoPreneur Revolution?
All the same great information as the print version of the NSBA ADVOCATE, but in a digital and more travel friendly design. Presenting nsbaadvocate.com for Americaâ€™s smallbusiness owner on the go.
2009 FALL ISSUE
CONTENTS Chair Keith Ashmus Secretary Pedro Alfonso
U.S. Representative Wally Herger (R-Calif.) talks to NSBA about the Equity for our Nation’s Self-Employed Act.
Treasurer Larry Nannis
ISSUES IN ACTION Are energy bills cutting into your profits? Find out how the NSBA ENERGY STAR Challenge can help you save some serious cash while doing your part to help conserve energy.
Editors Molly Brogan Greg Smith
Staff Writers Molly Brogan Jere Glover Daniel R. Jones Kyle W. Kempf Jody Milanese Greg Smith
FROM OUR AFFILIATES
President Todd McCracken
Layout & Design Greg Smith
Small Business Owner 123 Main Street Entrepreneurville, USA 12345
If you thought electric plug-in vehicles were a passing fad think again. Small Business California explains why plugins are the way of the future, the very near future that is.
Vice Chair, Advocacy Chris Holman Vice Chair, Membership David Ickert
INSIDE THE BELTWAY In this issue we take a look at the health care reform legislation that is before Congress and what it means for America’s small-business owners.
Immediate Past Chair Marilyn Landis Vice Chair, Communications Jeffrey VanWinkle
FROM THE HILL
ADVOCACY AND EVENTS As the nation’s oldest advocate for small business, we’re always working on behalf of you, the small-business owner. Take a moment to see some of our recent activity as well as ways you can get involved.
FEATURE ARTICLE Small business collectively could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 259 million tons each year if they improved their energy efficiency by just 25 percent. That’s just one highlight from a report released by the National Small Business Association titled, “On-Bill Financing: Helping Small Business Reduce Emissions and Energy Use While Improving Profitability.”
HOW TO REACH US National Small Business Association 1156 15th Street NW Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 293-8830 Fax: (202) 872-8543 Web: www. nsba.biz Notification of address changes should be sent to the address listed above.
NSBA is a volunteer-led association. Our primary mission is to advocate federal policies that are beneficial to small business and promote the growth of free enterprise
2009 FALL ISSUE
NSBA LEADERSHIP CORNER
GREEN WITH ENVY THERE’S LITTLE QUESTION THAT GOING GREEN IS ON EVERYBODY’S MIND THESE DAYS, BUT WHAT ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS? BY KEITH ASHMUS oing green seems to be all the buzz these days. It is becoming clear that going green isn’t just a fancy media word or marketing ploy. In fact, it’s something that we, the small-business community, need to consider. I’m sure that many small-business owners ask themselves, “Why should I green my business, and what’s in it for me?” The short answer is that small businesses stand to benefit from green efforts. Aside from being a great point to feature on your website, blogs, and at your brick-and mortar locations, it’s part of doing business in a changing marketplace. Our customers, friends, and family understand that it’s time to go green–and whether that means turning off some of your lights, carpooling, offering telecommuting to your employees, or conserving on energy and changes mandated to them. So ask your office products–it all helps. It also helps to open up a whole new market that you may be missing, which in these tough economic times is not something that co-workers or employees what ways they suggest to help conserve energy and “go many small businesses can afford to do. It is our nature as small-business owners to be innovative and lead the way on new green.” Begin with 2-3 changes at a time. bold frontiers. That is why we now realize that we have the opportunity to make green It’s easy to go gung-ho and then lose your momentum, so start with ways you can or save some green by going green. Small businesses that have already taken voluntary conservation action are manage and then keep building. Also know that realizing the business value of these NSBA is here to actions—in the form of reduced costs help assist you in of operation, enhanced image and It is our nature as small-business owners to ways to green your reputation that differentiate them from the competition, and, in some cases, be innovative and lead the way on new bold small business. This increased revenue from new customers frontiers. That is why we now realize that issue of the NSBA ADVOCATE is the and sales. we have the opportunity to make green or first ever “Green Many small businesses are Issue”. Flipping already investing in energy save some green by going green. through the recycled efficiency, according to an April pages, you will find 2009 NSBA survey. Despite the some interesting resources and ideas on downturned economy, more than a third of small-business owners have invested how your small business can green its in energy efficiency for their business in the last 18 months. Given the extremely difficult economic challenges small businesses have been facing, the fact that there operations; what Congress is doing to are still a significant number of us investing in energy efficiency is a testament to assist the small business community with its greening efforts; and what resources the important leadership role small businesses can take. So how can your small business go green while putting some extra green in your NSBA offers to help you achieve officially pocket? There are an endless number of ways to go about greening your business but recognized green status, which is sure to perhaps the best way to help your company go green is to brainstorm. People don’t like make your competitors green with envy.
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FROM THE HILL
Leveling the Playing Field : Why Providing Health Tax Equity for our Nation’s Self-Employed Makes Sense. By U.S. Representative Wally Herger
e are in the midst of serious economic difficulties, and American workers and small businesses are bearing the brunt of the recession. To hasten a recovery, we need to make it easier to run a small business and do away with unnecessary and unfair burdens created by government policies. We have already seen too many businesses close up shop or cut back on employees and expenses. We need to level the playing field to give all businesses the best chance to compete.
illions of Americans are selfemployed entrepreneurs who have decided to take a risk and pursue their dreams. But unfortunately, due to an unfair clause in our tax code, the self-employed are excluded from benefits larger businesses enjoy. To level this playing field, I have joined with Representatives Kind (D-WI), Reichert (R-WA), and Kosmas (DFL) to introduce the Equity for our Nation’s Self-Employed Act.
of all employers, this tax inequity forces the self-employed to pay an extra $1,940 annually. Coming from a small-business background myself, I am well aware that these types of costs can it difficult to operate a business. They can also make the difference in whether or not business owners are able to obtain coverage for themselves and their families.
nder current law, corporations are able to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums as a business expense and forgo payroll (FICA) taxes on these costs. But self-employed workers are barred from doing the same, costing them an additional 15.3 percent on their health insurance premiums. While health insurance costs are a major concern 2009 FALL ISSUE
ith United States on the verge of a health care crisis and millions of people are already without insurance because of rising health care costs, we need to rise above partisanship to overcome these obstacles. The Equity for Our Nation’s Self-Employed Act would correct part of the problem by helping to level the playing field for small businesses. It’s
patently unfair that sole proprietors, a vital engine of job creation and our economy, are penalized with additional taxes because they are not granted the write-offs that larger businesses receive. Our legislation would correct this inequity and help make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans.
e ought to champion fairness in our tax code and pass this legislation. Economic growth and a level playing field should not be partisan issues, and I am looking forward to working with my fellow Members to correct this unfair provision. In doing so, we will strengthen both our economy and the bold innovators and entrepreneurs who drive its progress. 5
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
Health Care Reform: The American Dream or a Small Business Nightmare By Daniel Jones
tarting a small business that creates jobs and serves the needs of a community is part of the narrative of the American Dream. Yet small-business owners who are doing exactly what that narrative says to do are facing a real nightmare when it comes to health care.
Will pending legislation in Congress help ease the traditional barriers small-business owner’s face in providing health care to their employees, and get them back on track to living the American Dream? Or will America’s small businesses find themselves stuck in a perpetual American Nightmare?
Members of Congress began the fall stretch of the congressional agenda where they left off before the August recess by addressing NSBA’s number one priority: health care reform. Lawmakers have carried their tumultuous town hall experiences back to Washington, D.C. While President Obama’s primetime joint address to Congress posited an unwavering course for health care reform this fall, there is undeniably a 6
bumpy road ahead. Congress recessed for August with four out of five committees with jurisdiction over health care having passed four different versions of legislation. One of those four committees, the Energy and Commerce Committee, could potentially address several amendments that were put aside before the House recessed. At some point, House leaders and committee
chairmen will combine their various versions into one bill to be voted on by the full House chamber. The Senate Finance Committee just recently introduced a bill reflecting the efforts of three Democrat and three Republican Committee members who worked over the recess to find common ground. Their work is largely seen as the only hope for a bipartisan bill. Nevertheless, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) returned from recess with a framework for legislation for the Committee to consider. Sen. Baucus said he expects the Senate Finance Committee to consider legislation the week of September 21. A final version from the Senate Finance Committee will then be combined with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee bill that was passed in July and sent to the Senate floor. Speculating on the timing of health care reform for the remainder of 2009 is not worthwhile; there are as many opportunities for progress as there are for obstructions. The chaotic health care reform deliberations of the summer are certain to carry over into the fall. Threatening the timing and chances of a bipartisan compromise further are controversial budget reconciliation instructions inserted into the FY2010 budget resolution that would likely end with a partisan and partial health care reform outcome. Needless to say, NSBA will continue to fight for reform that will provide small businesses with quality, affordable health insurance. Continue to check back with NSBA’s Health Care Reform Today Web (www.healthreformtoday.org) for action alerts and more information as it is made available.
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RESOURCES energy performance with all of them? 1) Turn off lights and equipment when not in use. Better yet, install lighting sensors and programmable heating, ventilation, and airconditioning (HVAC) controls. 2) Buy ENERGY STAR qualified products. 3) Adjust lighting to actual needs— use free “daylighting”. 4) Contract for pre-season HVAC maintenance ensure regular system “tune-ups” for savings and longer equipment life.
ENERGY STAR for Small Business Every Step Counts, No Matter How Small By Jerry Lawson, National Manager, ENERGY STAR Small Business
ith the serious challenges your business faces daily, it may be tempting to tell yourself the monthly utility bill is just “overhead.” After all, what can you do about it? You have to keep customers comfortable and employees productive. You need adequate, even attractive, lighting, and the “plug load” for new business equipment just keeps growing. Not to mention utility rates going only up, never down. Besides who has the time and money for energy efficiency? For these reasons and more, the annual national small business energy bill is nearly $100 billion, even though most commercial and industrial firms can cost-effectively cut energy costs by, easily, 10 percent and with a serious effort by about 30 percent. You could probably use a 30 percent lower utility bill and improved facility performance right now, with no sacrifice in facility comfort. And the marketplace is telling us consumers like to patronize “green” businesses. While improving their own bottom line with energy efficiency, small 2009 FALL ISSUE
businesses help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in quantifiable amounts. Small businesses can typically save as much money and prevent as much pollution, per square foot, as large corporations. NSBA has promoted the ENERGY STAR Small Business program for many years and is a signer of the ENERGY STAR Challenge (www.energystar. gov/challenge) where you can also learn about resources to “Bring Your Green to Work” (www.energystar.gov/ work) ENERGY STAR is market-based program providing taxpayers unbiased and accurate information to improve energy performance at home and in the workplace. More than 83,000 commercial facilities use ENERGY STAR’s free online software Portfolio Manager (www. energystar.gov/bendchmark ) to track energy performance. But, the “flagship” for small business energy efficiency is ENERGY STAR Small Business (www. energystar.gov/smallbiz)
Q u i c k , L o w- C o st , H i g h Re t u r n “ S u re S av e rs ”
These tips may sound simple, but is your business really optimizing your ADVOCATE
5) Change or clean HVAC filters monthly in during peak cooling and heating months. 6) Install LED (light-emitting diode) exit signs. 7) Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), wherever appropriate and look into the improving returnon-investment for innovative LED lighting. 8) Control direct sun through windows, both summer and winter to prevent or gain heat. 9) Use ceiling fans for lower cost comfort, and use outside air when temperatures allow. 10) Plug air leaks with weatherstripping and caulking.
The Recognition You Deserve ENERGY STAR Small Business recognizes outstanding efficiency efforts each year with awards and national and local media promotion. On Sept. 16 the 2009 winners were announced in a national press release, and the winners joined the online directory of success stories. Will your small business share in the energy efficiency success story in 2010? Only you can decide that by taking some small steps today that will add up to big savings tomorrow.
The Bottom Line:
Getting to the Bottom of The Truth One Story at a Time As a small-business owner you know how important the bottom line is—and so do we. NSBA is launching “NSBA’s The Bottom Line” to wade through politicalspeak and misinformation from lawmakers and the media about the issues that matter most to small business. NSBA and its members have to fight against powerful and influential politicians and interest groups that don’t care much about the best interests of the small business community. NSBA’s The Bottom Line will be a collective place to do just this.
What They Said: In reaction to President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on health care, Doyle McManus stated, “And he promised that 95% of small businesses wouldn’t be required to pay for their employees’ health insurance, a deep bow to the power of small business (or at least, the gauzy image of “small business”) in the nation’s heartland.”
Who Said It: Doyle McManus in “Obama’s health care address: The middle man returns” from the Sept. 10 edition of the L.A. Times.
We’ll highlight what they’re saying and tell you what it really means. NSBA’s The Bottom Line will be featured in the NSBA Advocate and on-line at www.nsba.biz/bottomline. So how does it work? Following a similar Q & A type of style, NSBA’s The Bottom Line will set the facts straight. We’ll provide what they said, who said it, and the bottom line on the subject at hand as it relates to small business.
Although McManus got it right that small business does have a very positive image, his snarky remark sells-short the hard, cold facts. Since 1989, small business has created 93.5 percent of all net new jobs, and more than one in two people in the U.S. private workforce—70 million people—work for or run a small business. Sixty-nine percent of small businesses surveyed in 2008 said they want to offer health insurance, however only 38 percent were able to do so—down from 67 percent in 1995. Small businesses throughout the country are faced with such choices as: provide health insurance or hire a new employee. These choices aren’t easy, and the huge impact small businesses have on the overall economy is surely worth ensuring small businesses aren’t overly harmed by new federal mandates. Reducing us to “gauzy” rhetoric does small businesses and the millions of families that rely on us a huge disservice. Like what you see? Want to see more?
Without further ado NSBA is pleased to bring you the first Bottom Line.
Logon to www. nsba.biz/ bottomline to see more.
2009 FALL ISSUE
FROM OUR AFFILIATES
Shock Value How America’s small business purchasing power will soon drive sustainable economic growth. By Hank Ryan, Executive Director Small Business California
Perhaps no other part of the economy symbolizes the fix we are in better than the auto industry. Two of three major U.S. automakers have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and in this case when General Motors sneezed, America came down with the flu. Together with housing and debt woes, our country is reeling from joblessness and searching for hope. Is there anything that will support the basis for sustainable growth again? We believe there is a new source for optimism and growth. In fact, that wellspring of profits will come from one area where America leads much of the world and has for a long time. When it comes to per capita use of energy, we deliver big numbers. Our ‘energy intensity’ is double that of both Japan and the European Union. That means for every unit of production, we use twice the amount of energy. In a world where the slightest bit of economic optimism makes the price of oil jump, American small businesses only need look back to 2008 to see what we need to do. The year 2008 is when fuel costs rose to almost $5 per gallon. Small Business California (SB-Cal) members like Mackenzie Warehouse, a 17 vehicle auto 2009 FALL ISSUE
parts distributor filling delivering parts around the San Francisco Bay area, saw monthly fuel costs rise from $4,000 to over $10,000 per month. With millions of small businesses offering delivery and other services using light to medium duty trucks, having nowhere to turn for vehicles with significantly better fuel economy, 2008 is a very bad memory. Sure we can invest in new vehicles with perhaps a three - five mpg advantage, but that isn’t enough. Enter the 100 mpg / 100 mile range Electric Truck. U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu just announced three major loans for alternative transportation. One of those loan recipients was Ford. One part of what Ford will do, in partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles of the United Kingdom, is to begin building an American version of the electric Ford Transit light duty truck. Actually two versions of this vehicle exist, one being the smaller Transit Connect with 1760 lbs of payload capacity and the Newton, offering 17,600 lbs of loading capacity. Both light and medium duty battery ADVOCATE
electric trucks achieve the equivalent of 100 MPG with 100 miles as the range between “plug ins.” The chassis will come from the Czech Republic. Drive trains will be shipped by rail from California. Manufacturing will occur in Kansas City beginning late in 2009. Prices will be sky high at first, but with significant incentives and competing manufacturers, the economies of scale will bring down the costs. With California’s high adoption rate for new technologies like hybrids and environmental leadership such as increasing renewable electricity that can be used as a clean fuel for electric vehicles, our SB-Cal members will likely lead the way. To spur a rapid national small business adoption rate for these game changing electric vehicles, the federal government should continue giving priority for incentives and funding for electric vehicles and infrastructure The Newtons have just been delivered to several larger firms like Frito Lay and California’s Pacific Gas & Electric. Funds for more development and pricing incentives have been awarded in recent Stimulus Fund announcements to Ford and other manufacturers. So it begins. America’s small businesses, with delivery and service routes being such a core function for many, will surely invest in these trucks because fuel cost stability is key. The margin between 15 mpg and 100 mpg is the Holy Grail we’ve been waiting for. Our purchases of these workhorse vehicles will multiply and spread across the country and help revitalize the auto industry while keeping oil prices lower through reduced demand. Look for these vehicles becoming available in 2010. By 2012, when AB32 (California’s emissions reduction law), “kicks in” and the race for reductions begins with transportation emissions being one of the largest targets, we submit small businesses in California and across the country will have already come a long way towards helping the emissions reduction sustainably occur while kick starting our vehicle manufacturing base. In fact, we predict the value of the profit enhancing small business emissions reductions these trucks provide will serve as a vital “engine” powering forward our national economy. 9
FEATURE F EATURE A ARTICLE RTICLE
g l il in b c N an O n i F By Kyle W. Kempf
ave you ever had that feeling of dread as you stare into the mail box and see the ever ominous envelope with the utility companies insignia staring at you from out of the corner, wrapped snuggly between the junk fliers and the local markets advertising paper. It’s as though even the postal service worker couldn’t bear the thought of you having to look it directly in the face and tried to break it to you gently by wrapping it up in coupons so it wasn’t the first thing you saw. Perhaps they still have a bit of superstition about death being dealt to the messenger when they know they are delivering the news that, yet again, you have an outrageous bill to pay. Messengers take note, with an easy-to-access financing mechanism, known as on-bill financing, small businesses across America can take comfort knowing that their days of dreading an unpredictable utility bill may be near an end.
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ARTICLE FEATURE F EFEATURE ATURE A ARTICLE R TICLE
Small Business Owner 123 Main Street Entrepreneurville, USA 12345
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ith the US Congress poised to consider comprehensive climate change legislation, NSBA recently unveiled a new report on a mechanism—called on-bill financing—to help small businesses decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, while improving their energy efficiency and profitability. The report, “On-Bill Financing: Helping Small Business Reduce Emissions and Energy Use While Improving Profitability,” examines this simple and easy-to-access financing mechanism, which is paid for through a businesses’ utility bill. The report was made possible through funding from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
What is On-Bill Financing? Here’s how it works: First, a utility company identifies a source of capital to fund the program. The source of this capital can be the utility itself, a ratepayer fund, or some other resource. The utility then hires and trains a network of energy-efficiency contractors. This network usually is dominated by small firms. The utility then disperses its contractor network to those costumers it believes might benefit from the program. While all small-business customers theoretically are eligible for the program, the
with the utility to decide if the specific projects should be approved and if they should be funded through a loan, rebate, or some combination of the two. The proposal is then submitted to the small-business owner, who decides which measures to install. The small-business customer may choose some or all of the measures, depending on the size of project to which they feel comfortable committing. Having made the decision to proceed, the small-business owner commits to on-bill financing. This financing mechanism typically consists of a loan program whereby the utility extends a two to five year zero percent interest loan to the customer, and includes rebates ranging from 10 percent to as high as 70 percent of the total project cost. The loans can be business loans or they be linked to the customer’s utility meter. Connecting the loan to the meter enables the payment obligation to transfer at the same time that the obligation to pay the rest of the energy bill transfers. The effect of this is to extend the term of the loan and to reduce monthly payments. This provides for an immediate financial benefit without a rebate. The on-bill financing agreement typically is short and simple, making the system more attractive to potential small-business customers who frequently are too busy running their firms to concentrate on their energy bills, energy-efficiency measures, or their greenhouse gas emissions. Once the small-business owner commits to the program, the contractor schedules and
The report estimates that for an average American small business this translates into a monthly savings of $411 or $4,932 per year on the combination of natural gas and electricity bills. utilities usually identify these potential costumers by their energy demands—usually 150-200 kilowatt hours (kWh) or less for an electricity customer. At this point, the contractor performs an energy audit, identifying the various lighting; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); and other improvements that could reduce the firm’s energy bills. The results of this audit are entered into a utility database, and the contractor works 12
performs the approved measures and submits an invoice to the utility for payment. After conducting a post-installation inspection, the utility pays the contractor and places a charge on the customer’s bill.
Significant Cost Savings—and Reduced Emissions On-bill financing program administrators describe utility bill savings of 15-30 percent as typical. The report estimates
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FEATURE ARTICLE that for an average American small business this translates into a monthly savings of $411 or $4932 per year on the combination of natural gas and electricity bills. A savings of nearly $5000 a year for the typical smallbusiness owner is not insignificant, given that 35 percent of small businesses have annual revenues of less than $100,000, and 61 percent have revenues of less than $500,000. Enacting these energy-efficiency improvements will not just lead to a reduction in small-business owners’ energy bills, however. It also will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The report finds that 259 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions could be removed if small business recognized these easily-achieved efficiency goals. That’s the equivalent of the emissions from 51 coal-fired power plants.
The Current State of On-Bill Financing Although on-bill financing programs
currently are in operation or development in 12 states, Connecticut and California have the most substantial track record with these programs for the small-business sector. Sempra Energy Utilities, a utility holding company that operates San Diego Gas and Electric
In other words, more small businesses want to participate in the program than state regulators currently will allow—despite the programs’ successes. and Southern California Gas Company, has operated an on-bill loan program for small businesses since 2007. It offers zero-interest unsecured loans — combined with a rebate — to cover energy-efficiency measures. The most established on-bill program in the country belongs to Connecticut’s
United Illuminating (UI), which began an on-bill financing program in 2000. The program offers small businesses zero percent interest financing for energy-efficiency improvements. UI has done audits in close to 5,500 small-business customer locations— approximately one-third of the total market—with 3,400 project installations. UI expects to complete 600 installations in 2009. Significantly, even as the economy has deteriorated, UI has experienced very low default rates—less than one percent. Typically, UI has had one to three defaults per year out of a total of 3,400 loans made. This extremely low default rate is the result of a careful screening process that requires a potential customer to have been in business for at least six months and have been current on their utility bill for at least five years, if they have been in business that long. Ninety-five percent of the customers who apply for financing qualify, however.
States with On-Bill Financing Programs for Energy Efficiency
Operating Under Development
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NSBA Members Making a Difference NSBA has been advocating for the replication and extension of onbill financing programs since 2005, when it was first recommended by NSBA Trustee Hank Ryan of Small Business California during an NSBA Environmental and Regulatory Affairs teleconference. Since then, NSBA has adopted on-bill financing as an integral component of its overall energy policy, believing it to be an effective means to surmount small businesses’ largest obstacle to energy-efficiency investments: a lack of cash flow. An April 2009 NSBA survey found that 52 percent of small businesses see cash flow as the primary barrier to investing in energy efficiency. As revealed in the report, the preliminary results of another study—not yet released—from the California Air Resources Board, show that a lack of capital is one of the primary impediments to making investments—including energyefficiency improvements—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The largest problem that UI and Sempra Energy Utilities have experienced in regard to their onbill financing programs is a result of their popularity and success: the programs are running up against their state regulatory commission imposed caps on outstanding loans. In other words, more small businesses want to participate in the program than state regulators currently will allow— despite the programs’ successes. As of late summer 2009, Sempra had $3.5 million loans outstanding, with approximately the same amount at some point within the audit/loan approval process. The company was rapidly approaching $10 million in loans outstanding, which was the cap that the state regulatory commission approved on total loans that the company could have outstanding in the first cycle of the program (additional loan funds are pending approval). The following table illustrates the rapid growth in loan volume since the program’s inception in 2007. The current caps are the result of lingering concern for lenders, for utilities and for the state utility commissions over the programs’ credit risk. Utilities will not be able to raise private capital for on-bill financing programs without a
clear definition of who bears the risk for potential loan defaults.
Recommendations The report makes two recommendations on how the federal government can help facilitate additional on-bill financing programs across the country by addressing these problems. First, a pool of capital should be made available to utilities that agree to match federal funds with their own loan capital. This approach would have the effect of expanding the capital available to fund small-business on-bill financing programs. Second, this funding should be contingent upon application and approval, to guarantee that new onbill financing programs meet specific requirements. This guarantee would take into account the historically low default rates with on-bill finance programs, and be set based upon a maximum amount of funding for each lending utility. NSBA will be working with Congress on the introduction and passage of legislation mirroring these recommendations. NSBA is a longtime advocate for on-bill financing.
Ryan, who has worked closely with the California utilities as they have developed their on-bill programs, also has served as an intervener to the California Public Utility Commission.
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Lock in Your Rate until 2011 WE SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY. WE ARE AREDEDICATED DEDICATEDTO TOAMERICA’S AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESS COMMUNITY. As America’s oldest small-business advocate, NSBA is dedicated to meeting the needs of America’s small businesses and helping the community to overcome the challenges they face every day. We realize that one of the largest barriers for small-business owners and employees is the rising cost and burden of HealthCare, which is why NSBA is proud to offer its members the opportunity to take advantage of the new NSBA Health Plans.
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A Changing Tide for Exporters SBEA welcomes onboard Peggy Houlihan as it’s new president. By Molly Brogan
SBA and the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA), a council of NSBA, experienced some seismic staffing changes during the August recess. Long-time SBEA President James Morrison announced mid-August that he would leave SBEA to accept a position with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency that promotes economic development in emerging markets through private investments. Morrison served as president for SBEA since 2001 and was a standout leader for SBEA. His departure left the NSBA and SBEA boards with a significant challenge: to find a dynamic leader with institutional knowledge and exporting expertise. Fortunately, their tireless efforts paid off in the appointment of Peggy Houlihan as the new SBEA president. In completing a nearly seamless transition, Houlihan started September 1, and is off to an impressive start. Houlihan has been active with SBEA for many years and brings with her a great deal of experience in the exporting field. Additionally, she is a seasoned small-business advocate well-known in Washington, D.C. for her determination and commitment to improving exporting opportunities for small business. A small-business owner herself, Houlihan started her own company,
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Houlihan International L.L.C., in 1997 representing small and large U.S. exporters in Washington, D.C. She also worked as a consultant to the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., developing, implementing and promoting their Trade Association Partners Program, a national small-business program. Prior to launching her own business, Houlihan served for six years as president of the Coalition for Employment through The many years I’ve spent working on Exports, and led numerous exporting programs have armed with me highly successful national campaigns to enable U.S. insight into how things work, and how firms to compete effectively things should work for small businesses. for international projects. No stranger to the in corporate America, and then as a corporate world, Houlihan spent 15 small-business owner, have armed years with Bechtel, one of the world’s with me insight into how things work, largest engineering-construction and how things should work for small companies, serving as one of their businesses,” stated Houlihan. “I am representatives in Washington, D.C. proud to represent the small exporters As such, she was responsible for of SBEA and NSBA, and have high securing competitive financing from expectations for the years to come.” the U.S. government and international NSBA and SBEA are proud to funding for major infrastructure welcome Houlihan as the new SBEA projects throughout the world, president. Throughout the recession, and managed legislative programs exporting has remained one of the ranging from international business few bright spots for small U.S. firms, and finance to energy, transportation, and, although Morrison’s departure is telecommunications, and the certainly a loss for both organizations, environment. Houlihan steps in at a critical time “The many years I’ve spent as she continues her fight for small working on exporting programs both exporters across the country.
IN THE NEWS
NSBA data is quoted regularly in local, regional and national media outlets. Our members and on various radio shows. Below are just a few of the many recent media mentions of NSBA. For more, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL CREDIT WORRIES LIMIT SMALL RETAILERS’ BACK-TO-SCHOOL STOCKS Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, says lending restrictions on small business could have a trickle-down effect. “If they can’t get the loans, they can’t stock the merchandise, which means they won’t make the sales and can’t hire temporary employees,” he said.
CNBC SQUAWK ON THE STREET SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLE TO FIND FINANCING “The reality is most of the stimulus money that was actually directed at small business was focused on lending,” said Todd McCracken, president and CEO of the NSBA. “So they heard all this stuff in the first quarter about how we’re going to get more lending out to small companies, but they’re not seeing it.”
CNN/MONEY HEALTH CARE: WILL ‘PAY OR PLAY” CHASE EMPLOYERS AWAY? Keith Ashmus, chair of the National Small Business Association, concurred. “My firm pays a whole lot more than $750 for its employees ... in tough times it might be tempting to just say, ‘I’ll pay the $750 dollars.’ “ AMERICAN CITY BUSINESS JOURNALS BUSINESS GROUPS BAND TOGETHER ON REFORM In a joint release today, the National Association for the SelfEmployed, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Small Business Association cite health care as one of their members’ fastest-growing and most unpredictable costs. USA TODAY SMALL BUSINESSES WARY OF HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION Like many small business owners, Pedro Alfonso struggles to maintain the health insurance he provides to his 85 employees — an effort he says is worth it partly because “it’s the right thing to do.” Nearly 10% of small business owners say they are considering dropping health coverage next year, regardless of what happens in Congress, a survey by the National Small Business Association shows.
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IN THE NEWS
leadership have been featured in prominent publications and television news programs, and appear regularly please visit www.nsba.biz/news.html BUSINESSWEEK CREATING ECO-FRIENDLY OPERATIONS According to an April survey by the National Small Business Assn., 38% of small companies surveyed have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past 18 months. Some 13% had invested in alternative energy sources, 6% had purchased or leased hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles in the past 18 months, and 18% had given employees incentives to cut back on driving.
MASS HIGH TECH CONGRESS EXTENDS SBIR AWARDS WITHOUT ADDRESSING VC ISSUE Opponents of the House bill, such as the National Small Business Association, said this would mean fewer small businesses would be able to participate in the program. NATIONAL JOURNAL SURTAX ON THE WEALTHY “It’s not going to impact the majority of small businesses, but it does impact a significant chunk. Those are the small businesses that are rapidly growing typically,” said Molly Brogan, spokeswoman for the National Small Business Association. “Adding an additional tax onto those companies, we think, is the wrong way to go.” THE WASHINGTON POST SOME ATTACK TIMING OF MINIMUM WAGE HIKE “Small businesses already have faced employment cuts in the last 12 months -- [and] are projecting more cuts -- and the minimum wage increase will only exacerbate that,” association spokeswoman Molly Brogan said. The businesses will “have to make the difficult choice of going under or laying people off.”
FORBES NSBA 2009 MID-YEAR ECONOMIC REPORT SHOWS SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLING “We’re struggling. Despite several economic stimulus packages and lots of talk, only three percent of small businesses reported a positive impact of the stimulus bills on their business,” stated Keith Ashmus, NSBA Chair and co-founding partner at Frantz Ward LLP, Cleveland, Ohio. “America’s small businesses need and deserve better.”
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PBS NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT REVIVING THE ECONOMY – SMALL BUSINESS BIG CREDIT ISSUES The National Small Business Association said today nearly 40 percent of its members can’t get the financing they need to run their companies. That’s up from a third at the end of last year.
ISSUES IN ACTION
The NSBA ENERGY STAR Challenge Is your small business ready to help build a better world 10 percent at a time?
By Greg Smith
NSBA believes that improving America’s energy efficiency must be a central component of any national effort to confront its energy dependence and operate more efficiently. More than two-thirds of the energy content of the fossil fuels consumed in the U.S. is simply lost as wasted heat. At an average cost of about one-half of the typical cost of new power sources and about one-third of the cost of natural gas supply, well-designed energy efficiency programs are much more cost effective than increasing supply and usually can be deployed much faster. To achieve these economic and environmental benefits, however, the U.S. must expand its focus on energy efficiency. NSBA believes that it is especially important that the effort to communicate the benefits of, and opportunities for, energy efficiency reach America’s small businesses, as nearly 70 percent of the respondents to an NSBA energy survey reported that they had not invested in energy efficiency programs for their businesses. To combat this deficiency, NSBA is challenging – in partnership with the voluntary ENERGY STAR® Small Business program, which will provide technical support – the 150,000 small businesses it reaches to reduce their energy consumption by 10 percent or more through improved energy efficiency. NSBA ENERGY STAR Challenge According to the ENERGY STAR Small Business program, energy efficiency improvements of 10-to-30 percent are economically viable for many small businesses through the implementation of “best practices” for facility operation and maintenance, and the use of cost-effective technologies. So how does your small business become involved in the NSBA ENERGY STAR Challenge and begin saving money today? Take any of the following actions and do your part in making the US fuel economy more efficient. • Join NSBA in Signing the ENERGY STAR Challenge Sign up your state NSBA affiliate, your business and even your home to cut energy costs by 10 percent
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ISSUES IN ACTION •
Join the ENERGY STAR Small Business Network Receive free energy-saving information, technical support and annual public recognition awards for outstanding efficiency improvements. Energy efficiency is smart business and helps the environment. Make a Pledge to the ENERGY STAR Change A Light Campaign Your business and family can help too by changing to ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs which use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 6-10 times longer. You’ll save energy, money, and help fight global warming. Get a Copy of the Putting Energy into Profits Guide Your on-line, up-to-date guide to information and resources to help you save energy, save money and reduce the pollution associated with energy waste. Enroll in the “Portfolio Manager” Energy Tracking Software A free tool, backed by on-line training and tech support, designed to help you track energy costs (weather-corrected), energy savings and global warming emissions reductions. You “can’t manage what you can’t measure.” E-mail Technical Questions on Energy Efficiency Contact ENERGY STAR for free, unbiased information on products and equipment, calculations, energy management strategies, and technical support. Apply for the ENERGY STAR Small Business Award Be recognized nationally and in your local media for your outstanding energy efficiency commitment and achievements.
TIME TO PULL THE PLUG ? Saving money and conserving energy may be as simple as pulling the plug By Greg Smith
Take a second and look at your electrical outlet. What do you notice? Chances are you’re staring at an outlet jam packed with energy consuming appliances that are necessary to get through the typical work day. Computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers and cell phone chargers use energy in increments; refrigerators and vending machines use a bit more. When all these devices are in use at one time, the energy adds up. Collectively, plug loads (the technical term for all the appliances plugged into your outlets) account for 20-to-30 percent of an office building’s energy consumption. So how can you reduce your plug load and save some cash? Luckily the
At the office, completely unplug equipment, where practical, or plug several pieces of equipment into a power strip that’s turned off at the end of every day. This stops the continual use of stand-by power.
Place signs around workstations to encourage employees to power down and unplug their electronic devices at the end of the work day.
Establish a policy to only buy ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and equipment, such as vending machines and refrigerators, which use up to 75 percent less energy.
For a small business, the question isn’t what have we done. The question is what can we do? Let’s build a smarter planet and community. The Green Entrepreneur Alliance by NSBA. Launching Fall 2009.
NSBA Supports ENERGY STAR Small Business Program NSBA supports the ENERGY STAR Small Business program, which provides free information and technical support to help small business reduce energy costs, and protect the environment. For more information, please logon and visit the ENERGY STAR Web site at www.energystar.gov/smallbiz. 2009 FALL ISSUE
solution to reducing your plug load is as simple as one, two, three.
Green Entrepreneur Alliance
THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY A LOOK AT WHAT NSBA OFFERS
SBA offers valuable benefits and resources for all of its members. No matter which facet of the smallbusiness community you represent, NSBA members benefit greatly from the vigorous lobbying efforts and myriad educational resources. NSBA members also benefit from the association’s vast expertise in spearheading vital industry initiatives in areas such as procurement, small-business technology funding, and protecting the interests of America’s smallbusiness importers and exporters. As the nations oldest organization representing America’s entrepreneurs, we represent every industry imaginable with a network that reaches over 150,000 small businesses. As you’ll see, our services and offerings speak for themselves.
NSBA ADVOCATE NSBA’s quarterly magazine featuring comprehensive coverage of NSBA members, affiliate organizations and councils, and the small-business community. NSBAWeb NSBAWeb (www.nsba.biz) provides breaking news, research, career resource information, conference registration, online forums and more to your workplace. The NSBA Weekly Advocate NSBA’s Weekly e-newsletter delivering quickread association and industry updates.
NSBA Surveys NSBA routinely conducts targeted member surveys throughout the year on issues of importance to the small-business community. These surveys provide an in-depth look at how the small-business community feels about a particular issue. NSBA also conducts weekly Quick Polls in which our members are asked their opinions on one or two items of interest to lawmakers and the media. NSBA Store Online bookstore stocked with resources to assist in your professional and personal growth. NSBA Councils NSBA currently has three councils: Small Business Exporters of America, Small Business Technology Council, and Procurement Council. NSBA members can gain access to the valuable information released by the councils for an additional nominal yearly fee. Joining and keeping active with NSBA will be one of the best personal decisions you make today that will continue shaping small business in America for years to come. You will find a local community of colleagues who have the same entrepreneurial spirit and business goals as you and you will benefit from a wealth of resources unlike any others in the industry.
Annual Meeting Notice On December 4, 2009 all NSBA members are invited to attend the annual meeting to provide input on the association’s leadership who will continue fighting the good fight on behalf of America’s small-business owners. New Trustees for the association will be elected at the annual meeting and luncheon in San Diego, California. If you are interested in attending the member meeting and luncheon, please contact Rosa Wright at rwright@nsba. biz or (202) 293-8830 for additional details.
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