Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Scranton SBDC To Co-Host Stimulus Roundtable Event

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that they will be hosting a series of nine events where local small businesses will have an opportunity to learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These events will feature presentations from representatives of different Federal and State organizations on upcoming procurement projects funded by stimulus dollars and how small businesses can take advantage of them. Slated to take place in late July and early August, these events will be held in various locations throughout eastern Pennsylvania and will be free to attendees.

In fact, six major government agencies will be represented at these events, speaking about large upcoming projects that could lead to some substantial revenue for participating small businesses. Government agencies in attendance will include: Pennsylvania General Services; US Army Corps of Engineers; US Department of Homeland Security; US Environmental Protection Agency; US General Services Administration; and the US Veterans Administration. Each representative will present information on their agency, upcoming stimulus projects, and answer questions about how small businesses can get involved.

Since the Philadelphia District Office is responsible for the forty eastern counties of Pennsylvania, events will take place at different strategic locations in that territory. Dates, times, and locations include:

July 21, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Philadelphia Courtyard Downtown
Grand Ballroom
21 N. Juniper Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

July 23, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Montgomery County Public
Safety Training Campus
1175 Conshohocken Road
Conshohocken, PA 19428

July 28, 2009
9:00pm – 12:00pm
Northampton Community College
Fowler Family Southside Center
6th Floor
511 East Third Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015

July 29, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
University of Scranton
Brennan Hall
Scranton, PA 18510
*Please RSVP to Scranton SBDC
570-941-7588 or sbdc@scranton.edu

July 30, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Reading, PA

August 4, 2009
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Williamsport, PA

August 6, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Harrisburg, PA

August 11, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Cyber Center
2101 Pennsylvania Ave.
York, PA 17404

August 13, 2009
9:00am – 12:00pm
Chambersburg, PA

Please RSVP for all but the Scranton event by contacting the SBA Philadelphia District Office at 610-382-3062 or email phila_do@sba.gov. Please include the date/location of the event you wish to attend along with your name, business name, phone number, and email address.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Late Night TV and Your Wallet

Being on vacation is a lovely thing, even if you don't go to the beach or mountains. I'm a night owl, so one thing being on vacation affords me is staying up late. Sometimes I fall asleep by the television, and wake up to something so ridiculous I actually have to sit up and be sure it isn't a dream.

Such was a recent episode of "out-of-sleep-into-the-world-of-infomercial" where I woke up to a man in a business suit sitting across from two scantily-dressed, low-cleavage women trying to sell a book on how you too could get FREE MONEY from the government!

I'm not going to try to tell this informercial story by myself, so at the end of this blog entry, are other good links to people who have gone before me and realized that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Still, these forrays into the bizarre manage to clip needed dollars from families who feel there might just be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is easy to get, like taking a pill without exercise and thinking you will actually lose weight.

So here I am groggy and bleary-eyed, wondering exactly where I am and why I am still on the couch, with a dog enwrapped somehow in my throw-blanket, and I see two women with (uh-hum) assets sitting across from Mr. Business as if this were a normal, everyday encounter, and as if they were indeed interested in finding out how they could get money to pay their mortgages, credit card debts and purchase real-estate by simply ordering a book that tells them exactly how to do it. I threw on the coffee and woke myself out of my stupor, because in my day-to-day life as an SBDC person, I knew that soon calls would come rolling in wondering why our office had not been handing out this information like candy.

Without taking you through the A-G-O-N-I-Z-I-N-G (and somewhat ASTONISHING to very smart people) verbage, let it suffice to say that within about two coffee-induced minutes I realized this was a scam. Even if, while in my state of between wide awake and still somewhat sleepy, I hadn't really focused on the purpose of the two women, I could hear loud and clear that the claims being made were inaccurate--this based on my 23 years of experience applying for and searching for specific grants for individuals and our own office (a non-profit, educationally-linked, government-funded agency). But I digress...much like this infomercial.

Please please please please please please please don't believe this stuff. Did I say please? YES, there are agencies who have grant money. NO, they don't give it to you to pay your bills and get out of debt. Grants are very eligibility specific, and many have a dollar limit and reasons why you can use the money. PLEASE don't send away $29.99 + $11.95 shipping and handling to find out you will never be able to use the information. Take your family to a theme park instead. You'll have a better day, get more out of it, and lose stress that way.

Just to show you I'm not the only one who thinks about infomercials the way I do, here's some lovely information to back up my story.

To read Chuck Jaffe's (of MarketWatch) commentary on infomercial land, go here. You'll realize this has been going on a long time, since 2007 and even before that.

To learn more about Kevin Trudeau's history (before finding out all the things that others didn't want us to know) go here and scroll down to the section on "Criminal History and Legal Proceedings." I think he probably didn't want US to KNOW this!

Question: How does Kevin Trudeau find out all the things that the government, doctor's, creditors and banks don't want you to know? My mother doesn't want anyone to know that as a small child growing up during the years just following the depression, she accidentally fell into the outhouse hole (whoops, sorry Mom)...do you think I could write a book about it and get an infomercial?

And for one more take on infomercial heaven, read this.

So, if you wake up in the wee hours and find yourself staring at a television set that has an infomercial promising you the moon, do yourself a favor--get some sleep!!
Elaine Tweedy is the Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center, Coordinator of the Buy Fresh Buy Local Northeast Region initiative, and stays up way too late!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Day On The Road

It's SUMMER! Or at least it's supposed to be. You'd never know it by our weather.

Our SBDC is fortunate in that we serve eight of the most beautiful counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As part of our summertime travel series (I just decided that we needed this series) we are going to feature a different spot you might be interested in visiting each week on our blog!
Our first is Historic Milford.

Milford is the county seat of Pike County, PA. It is a revolutionary war community, established by a riding circuit court judge, John Biddis. It lies between the Sawkill and Vandermark creeks and the streets are patterned after the layout of Philadelphia streets. They are named for John's children, and alleys are named after fruit trees found in the area. Milford is the portal to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area. Milford is 75 miles from New York City and approximately 50 miles from Scranton, PA.

Milford is noted for its architecture. A number of great 19th century American architects have examples of their work in Milford. Grey Towers, designed by Richard Morris Hunt; Forest Hall (the old post office) designed by Calvert Vaux; and most recently the historic restoration of the Hotel Fauchere by Peter Bohlin.

Many presidents, writers and artists visited and worked in Milford. Zane Grey lived and wrote in Pike County, and his home in Lackawaxen is now a museum. The Columns historical museum has within its walls the "bloody Lincoln Flag" which was used to rest President Abe Lincoln's head on after his fatal shooting.

Eagle watching can also be done in Lackawaxen. If you are an eagle fanatic, you'll want to click here for more information.

Milford is a quaint town. I've never had a hard time spending money when I go there. There are plenty of shops, eateries and historic inns to meet almost everyone's needs in terms of gifts, jewelry, clothing and good food, as well as a place to sit a spell and take a break. One of my favorite little stops is the Waterwheel Cafe and my favorite sandwich is the brie and granny smith apple open faced deal with toasted almonds. YUM! For unique gifts, just upstairs from the Waterwheel you can find Giffard and White and browse while letting your food settle.
Milford is one of the most picturesque places you will ever visit. If you haven't been, you need to take a trip....trust me, even if it rains, there are things you will find to do!

Our outreach location in Milford is at the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, who I am sure, would appreciate this blog entry!