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Stimulus Presents Opportunities For Small Business:

The unprecedented stimulus package approved by Congress earlier this year will be presenting business opportunities in both the public and private sector. However, figuring out how to take advantage of these opportunities can be challenging, especially for small businesses.A workshop was held on September 2 at the Los Angeles Airport Renaissance Marriott to help small business owners understand how they can compete for stimulus dollars. The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and Santa Monica College’s Small Business Development Center were among the workshop sponsors.Marty Keller, the Director of the Office of Small Business Advocate and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, pointed out that the State of California is set up to receive $85 billion in stimulus money. Programs and projects will receive $55 billion and $30 billion will go towards tax relief. Thus far, only $2.7 billion has been allocated for 380 federal/state/municipal projects in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and the Orange County area. The balance of the funding will be distributed over the next two years and is divided into 10 general categories such as health and human services, education, labor transportation, and water and the environment.According to Keller, the federal government will be funding projects directly and there will also be in an increase in federal funding “to state government programs that already exist.” This state funding has already been earmarked and totals $24 billion of the $55 billion allocated for programs and projects in California.Business owners who want to bid on stimulus projects can find out about them at Governor’s California Recovery Task Force website, or at the Department of General Services eProcurement website, The timeline for this funding will vary depending on the program but it will end at the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.The United States Small Business Administration’s representative, Lorenzo Flores, stated that there is “no doubt that small business is the backbone of the economy” so it’s important to help them participate in stimulus projects and programs. A small business is defined as having 100 employees or less. He emphasized that the federal government has made it easier for small businesses to obtain loans because they are now guaranteeing loans at 90 percent so lenders only have a 10 percent risk. Small businesses can also now get Small Business Association (SBA) loans with no fees. It is his office’s job to market their programs to lenders and small business and to train lenders in the workings of SBA loans.There were also two panels at the workshop that focused on more of the details of applying to be a government contractor. One consisted of panelists who work in the public sector while the other included members from the private sector.Chuck Ashman from Business Matchmaking expressed his support for training small business owners on how to obtain stimulus money when he stated, “All this money should not be limited to a handful of companies that know how to work the system.”

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