News Briefs

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Minority Contracting
Small businesses attracted about $98.2 billion in government awards in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Hispanic-owned companies won about 8.4 percent of that total, or $8.2 billion, while Black-operated small businesses won about 7.2 percent, or $7.1 billion. About 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, and 13 percent is Black. Contracts for Black-owned small companies declined about 1 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2012. Awards to the Hispanic-owned businesses rose 1.5 percent, which did not compensate for a bigger drop in fiscal 2011, according to federal procurement data. On the whole, small-business contracts declined 3.7 percent in fiscal 2012, while total awards dipped 4.1 percent. Awards to the Black-owned businesses plunged 6.5 percent from fiscal 2010, more than four times the decline in all contracts. 

Subcontracting Abuse
The U.S. Small Business Administration issued a final rule requiring large business prime contractors to notify the contracting officer in writing if they fail to utilize a small business included in their bid or proposal or make late or reduced payments to a small-business subcontractor. The rule, 78 Fed. Reg. 42391 (July 16, 2013), is viewed as a step in the right direction by small-business subcontractors as a way to prevent prime contractors from touting robust small-business subcontracting participation in their proposal for evaluation purposes, only to toss the small businesses aside when the work actually begins. Questions remain, however, about the precise circumstances in which the new reporting requirements will apply and how (or if) the rule will be enforced.

Health Care Information
With affordable health care a top concern for small businesses, Business.USA.gov now offers a tool to help small-business owners find out exactly what they and their employees need to know about the Affordable Care Act. Business.USA.gov leverages resources across the federal government. The new tool, Business.usa. gov/healthcare, uses various prompts, including business location, size, and whether the business currently offers insurance, to connect business owners with resources at the Small Business Administration, departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury, and other federal agencies. The Affordable Care Act allows small-business employers to offer health coverage in a way that makes sense for their business and works for their bottom line.


College Enrollment
The U.S. Census Bureau says college enrollment in fall 2012 plunged by half a million (467,000) from 2011. The decline, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment, follows growth of 3.2 million between 2006 and 2011. These statistics come from School Enrollment: 2012. The decline in college enrollment was driven by older students — those 25 and older. Their enrollment fell by 419,000, while the enrollment of younger students declined by 48,000. Hispanics didn’t follow the trend, as the number enrolled in college grew by 447,000 from 2011 to 2012. Non-Hispanic white enrollment declined by 1.1 million and Black enrollment by 108,000. From 2006 to 2012, the percentage of all college students who were Hispanic rose from 11 percent to 17 percent. The percentage who were Black also rose (from 14 percent to 15 percent), but the percent of non-Hispanic white students declined from 67 percent to 58 percent.
 
Private Investment
CPA Richard Levychin of KBL LLP reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission recently lifted a decades-old ban on publicizing any share offerings that are not registered with the SEC and are limited to accredited investors, typically wealthy individuals who can afford the financial risk of investing in a new business venture. The agency’s move satisfies a central provision in last year’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which aims to make it easier for smaller companies to raise cash from dozens of wealthy investors. The ruling also applies to hedge funds and other firms that seek private investments. Recently, sites like Kickstarter have allowed entrepreneurs to advertise to the masses for investment but they can only promise T-shirts or plaques in return. Until the SEC’s ruling, it was illegal to offer the masses a stake in the company. That’s no longer the case. “Look for a variety of entrepreneurs to commence planning marketing blitzes that they hope will help them reach the right target audiences of potential investors,” Levychin says. Under consideration: putting investment offers on billboards, placing ads on buses and in newspapers and even printing them on T-shirts.
 
Business Valuation
The National Black Chamber of Commerce formed a partnership with BizEquity to “help democratize business valuation knowledge for entrepreneurs and small-business owners in America.”  The market for business valuations is expected to reach $3 billion by the end of 2013, according to IBIS World, at an average cost of $8,000.00 and at least three weeks to deliver.  More than 7.7 million businesses are expected to be sold in the United States alone in the next 10 years. BizEquity created the first online business valuation service of its kind that costs $365.00 for a yearly subscription and is delivered instantaneously in real-time. NBCC says lack of business valuation knowledge is a critical problem facing small-business owners due to the time and cost associated with the old way of performing a valuation.

Black Nerds
Blerdology (Blerdology.co), formerly #BlackGirlsHack, conducted a seven-city social series in July and August to showcase rising Black innovators and connect like minds. Blerd’s Night Out was designed to engage minority startup ecosystems where they live, aggregate social change and foster community fellowship. The series was held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Fla., and San Francisco and featured community partners such as Black business crowdfunding platform BlackStartup.com and The Root’s Black twitter measure platform The Chatterati. Leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields were among the featured appearances. They included Kyle Christian Steele of Doccaster (Orlando), Jay Veal of INC Tutoring (Dallas), Jared Johnson of TechGnostic Consulting, Neal Sales-Griffin of Starter League (Chicago), WeDeliver’s Jimmy Odom (Chicago), Julian Tillotson of Indirap Productions (Chicago), IncubateNYC’s Brian Shields (New York), Donna Byrd,
publisher of the Root  (New York), co-founder of Black Founders Monique Woodard (San Francisco) and Pitch Mixer’s Ayori Se (San Francisco).