Small Business

NASA continues its tradition of supporting US entrepreneurs in developing tech innovations ready for commercial use. NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program continues that pursuit with its latest set of 140 Phase II rewards for 127 small businesses. A total of $105 million in funding will be awarded to businesses located in 34 different US states and Washington, DC. The program aims to find the most practical technologies for the National Space Agency and the commercial marketplace while including diverse entrepreneurs. Among the companies listed in Phase II funding, there are 33 businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans. For example, the Salt Lake City-based company, InnoSys Inc., is a woman-owned small business developing a solution for operating cameras in harsh, extremely high-temperature environments. The innovation from InnoSys has both space mission applications and provides a means of imaging fires, inspecting nuclear reactor cores, or furnaces operating at high temperatures. With NASA’s assistance, InnoSys can focus on commercializing its product. If Phase II proves successful, the agency can provide further funding to find potential customers besides NASA. “The Phase II contract period is an exciting time, as small businesses put their ideas into practice and develop prototypes attractive to NASA and private investors. The selected technologies have displayed great potential impacts for their respective sectors, and we are proud to continually invest in today’s booming aerospace economy through these small businesses,” Jason L. Kessler, a NASA SBIR Program executive, stated. Some of the other exciting projects include a compact heat exchanger for possible electrified aircraft propulsion, an AI-powered virtual medical expert, and many others.  Working on innovative tech is a demanding process, and our team recommends small businesses use cloud storage services to better coordinate product research and development. After all, a promising small business needs every advantage to secure funding from organizations such as NASA.

By Milja May 21,2021

Less than 3% of approximately 30 million small-business owners in the US could be impacted by President Joe Biden’s tax increase under the jobs and infrastructure plan.The tax rate increase from 21% to 28% will not affect small businesses organized as “passthrough” enterprises. Limited liability companies are the biggest representatives of passthrough entities, and also account for nearly all small businesses. Therefore, most of them will avoid this hike.What’s more, most small-business owners are single earners. Out of that group, the only ones who will feel the proposed increase are people and married couples with more than $452,700 and $509,300 in annual income, respectively.This potential result is in line with the goal of the new corporate tax rate. After all, President Biden is counting on the support of small-business owners in this matter, as the actual target of this plan is large corporations. The White House seeks to increase the corporate tax rate by 7% to 28%, which would be significant primarily for large corporations like Amazon and Walmart. National trade groups, like the Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce, are vehemently opposed to the proposed change.According to a White House official, the tax plan should help eliminate the practice of offshoring profits and jobs while paying lower taxes than small businesses, present at many multinational corporations.Republican lawmakers are opposed to the proposal and remain unmoved by the small-business plight. The official White House stance is one open to compromise. According to the official, President Biden “was in the Senate for almost 40 years and understands how the legislative process works, and there is going to be a little bit of give and take with Congress, so that's the part of the process we are in right now.”Even though tax changes won’t impact most small businesses, these business owners will still need to stay on top of their tax obligations. They can do so by using tax software to automate the preparation process and meet filing deadlines.

By Milja May 21,2021

Unemployed Americans could lose their unemployment aid come this June, two months earlier than initially planned. The announcement comes as a shock for thousands who lost their jobs during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Jobless Americans were supposed to receive monetary aid until Sept. 4, 2021, through the federal unemployment program, but several US states have decided to cut the program by two months. At the moment, the shortened federal aid program is set in motion in Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, and South Caroline. “Continuing these programs until the planned expiration date of Sept. 4, 2021, is not necessary and actually interferes with the ability of employers to fill over 40,000 job vacancies in Arkansas,” wrote Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson in a letter. Hutchinson added that the current unemployment benefits stop people from taking on new jobs and that the current unemployment rate is just 0.6% under the pre-pandemic rates. In his words, the government aid to jobless people in Arkansas is causing a labor shortage. While this won’t mean an end to all unemployment benefits, it will certainly cause a drastic drop in many people’s income. Specifically, it would mean that jobless citizens of Arkansas will then receive $248 a week, while the weekly check in Mississippi will be $195. The decision was met with a lot of opposition, with the loudest opponents claiming it’ll set America for a wave of family hardship. It will affect not just people who lost their jobs but also self-employed, freelancers, and gig workers who, according to the gig economy statistics, make up 36% of US workers and were already having a rough time throughout the pandemic. Small business owners in many towns had to close their shops, either for good or temporarily, until the business could pick up, saying that the government unemployment checks helped them through this turbulent period. “We’re looking at a tsunami of debt, evictions, and food insecurity on the horizon, and it’s mostly women and people of color who will bear the brunt of that,” said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. Dixon believes the decision is shortsighted and potentially dangerous.

By Julija A. May 14,2021

The Paycheck Protection Program, aimed at helping small businesses affected by the pandemic, ran out of funding May 4 - four weeks before its scheduled end. It is currently not accepting new applications as the $292 billion allocated for the last round of loans is soon to be depleted.Some money remains for lenders to finish processing pending applications. Around $8 billion is set aside and still available for community financial institutions that lend to businesses run by women, minorities, and other underprivileged communities. For this fund, applications are still ongoing, and it will continue to accept applications until funds run out.This new development came as a surprise to many lenders. They estimated that it would run out before the deadline; still, the exact moment coming so soon was unexpected.“It is our understanding that lenders are now getting a message through the portal that loans cannot be originated,” the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders alerted its members. “The PPP general fund is closed to new applications.”The latest government data states that the PPP program disbursed $780 billion in forgivable loans to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic so far. In the early days of the pandemic, the number of active business owners plummeted by 22% over two months, from February to April 2020. Among these, African-American businesses suffered the biggest hit, experiencing a 41% drop.The struggle was apparent in the number of applications for small business loans. Companies that offer loans for those with bad credit were especially popular, as well as alternative financing methods, such as crowdfunding.However, it was precisely the Small Business Administration’s loans that helped many businesses stay afloat in challenging times. This is the reason the program was renewed in December’s relief bill. The new program accepted applications from applicants struggling to find funds elsewhere, such as minority or veteran-owned businesses.The interest in these loans was considerable, so the application deadline was pushed forward to May. Unfortunately, the deadline push was not followed by a significant increase in available funds. It seems that the government is counting on pandemic restrictions easing as the vaccination rate grows and deems additional funding unnecessary for many small businesses.Luckily for the business industries hit the hardest by the pandemic - restaurants and live events - help is still underway, as the government’s recent efforts suggest. The SBA program is offering $28.6 billion in grants to food-oriented businesses, and the application process began on May 1. The first three weeks will be focused on approving applications from enterprises owned by priority groups, and the SBA promises to respond to individuals applying for a grant within 14 days.Patrick Kelley from the SBA’s Capital Access office said in a webinar last week that the amount of money Congress set aside for this purpose is likely not going to be enough when the demands coming from this industry are considered.A similar request came in from another sector - entertainment. This industry - music club operators, theater owners, and others in the live-event business - was also heavily hit by the pandemic. A program named the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, started on May 2 and will disburse $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues. Approximately 15,000 people applied since the opening of the fund.

By Julija A. May 11,2021

Last Monday, California lawmakers sent their governor a bill proposing up to $6.2 billion in tax breaks on PPP loans for small businesses. This will be the last part of the COVID-19 economic recovery package worth around $9.6 billion.Since the pandemic has started, Congress has approved three relief packages, the first of which was delivered last fall, followed by more aid in December.This latest bill will allow California businesses to circumvent the state taxes on loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. According to state officials, the bill should apply to up to 85% of California businesses that have received about $96,700 each: A combined $97 billion in federal loans.Business leaders have supported the tax break, including the California state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, John Kabateck. He also said, “Small-business owners shouldn’t be penalized for taking federal support when businesses were adversely impacted by government shutdowns to deal with this terrible pandemic.”Senator Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel confirmed that she is also in favor of the aid: “With California supposedly enjoying a budget ‘surplus,’ it makes no sense to penalize small businesses for accepting federal assistance — especially since the feds have made such assistance fully tax-deductible.”The bill’s estimated cost will be between $4.4 billion and $6.8 billion, spread across the next six years. The final cost of the package will depend on the excused loan percentage.California Senate President pro Tempore, Toni G. Atkins, said that these measures are a part of the state’s strategy to help speed up the recovery. “California’s businesses helped get us through the COVID-19 crisis, and now that we are emerging out the other side, we must ensure that they have the financial tools they need to rebound stronger than ever,” Atkins added.

By Nikolina Cveticanin May 06,2021

According to a statement published on April 26, Equiem has acquired the property management software of British Land. Equiem is a Melbourne-based company whose tenant-experience platform for commercial real estate is the most used in Australia. The terms of the contract were not disclosed in the statement. British Land is the biggest UK real estate investment trust, and it now has less than a 10% equity stake in Equiem. As for Equiem, the Australian company has acquired Vicinitee, British Land’s digital property management platform, a source familiar with the deal said. Gabrielle McMillan, Equiem's chief executive in New York, said that Vicinitee is a great addition to the company, as it can provide property owners with better real estate operations and improve tenants’ experience. "It's a digital interface for your building that becomes a remote control for all the things you need in a post-COVID world," said McMillan. With this contract, Equiem has increased its global reach to 500 real estate markets in Europe, Australia, and America and strengthened its partnership with British Land, the owner and property manager of the main office assets in London. The deal between Equiem and British Land is the result of the latest news and trends in property tech. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, this industry “had about 100 US equity financings totaling some $4.5 billion of investment and more than 40 M&A transactions,” the latest statistics show. Before the acquisition, HqO, another tenant experience platform, raised $60 million to expand its business. Similarly, View the Space (VTS), a real estate software provider, acquired Rise Buildings for $100 million. From the outset, tenant experience apps are used to provide tenants with information about important services, like the closest healthcare services, fitness centers, and restaurants to their property. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords and real estate professionals have started using these apps to simplify communication with their residents on managerial questions, like buildings maintenance and safety issues. With property management platforms, property owners can manage their rentals easier and faster. They can create leases, save the information of prospective tenants, and collect rental payments.

By Danica Jovic May 06,2021

According to a company press release, Tribe Property Technologies has purchased the rental portfolio of KEY Property Marketing, which consists of approximately 75 service contracts. The closing of this deal marks Tribe’s first acquisition as a public company. “This is a strategic step for us in further expanding Tribe’s ability to deliver services to condominium investors who are looking to rent out their units in the BC market,” said the CEO of Tribe, Joseph Nakhla. Tribe is a property management company that focuses on providing owners, residents, councils/boards, real estate developers, and vendors with services that combine innovative technology and hard-working staff members. These services include condo/strata and rental management, a community platform, as well as developer and landlord tools. KEY Marketing was founded by Cam Good in 2009. It offers real estate design, marketing, and sales services. In 2015, Good acquired KEY Property Management, which specializes in finding quality sites for developers and connecting them with buyers. In regard to the purchase, Good said: "This sale allows me and KEY's Leadership Team to focus on the rapid growth of KEY Marketing while Tribe better services people investing in condos." This latest business venture is just one of several big steps Tribe has taken in recent months. Late last year, the company bought Gateway Property Management, making it the sixth largest condo management company and the sixth largest rental management company in Canada. On April 14, 2021, it began trading on the TSX Venture Exchange. Currently, Tribe’s property management platform is being used by a number of condominium complexes and residential communities throughout Canada. "We believe that the independent owner-investors market is a big market that is currently underserved. With three out of every 10 condos being rented to tenants in both Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, we are aiming to improve that experience for both investors and tenants with our technology platform and services," Nakhla added.

By Milja April 23,2021

The Small Business Administration has announced in a press release that restaurants most heavily affected by the pandemic will receive stimulus money from a fund worth $28.6 billion.The funds form part of the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill - called the American Rescue Plan - which was passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021. Restaurants that have suffered revenue loss due to the pandemic will be able to apply for up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.SBA administrator Isabela Guyman said the administration is “focused on ensuring that the RRF program’s application process is streamlined and free of burdensome, bureaucratic hurdles – while still maintaining robust oversight.”Various businesses in the food and drink industry are eligible to apply for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program, including restaurants, food stands/trucks/carts, caterers, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, breweries, microbreweries, wineries, distilleries, inns, and licensed facilities that produce alcohol and allow people to taste, sample, or purchase their products.The official timing of the application’s launch is yet to be announced. What is known is that after the program opens, for the first 21 days, the SBA will accept applications from all eligible applicants, but will only process those submitted by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners. Once the 21 days are up, all applications will be treated equally.The SBA is collaborating with numerous business stakeholders to ensure that the application process goes smoothly and to discuss any potential concerns regarding the relief package.“The USBC believes this initiative and collaboration with the SBA will bring needed resources and relief to these often underserved businesses to aid in stabilization, recovery and ultimately, strengthen our economy.” said Ron Busby, Sr., the President and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC).As some of the best LLC Companies, the SBA is committed to providing individuals with the resources they need to start their own business and run it successfully.

By Milja April 23,2021

Less than a week after the Senate extended the deadline for Paycheck Protection Program loan applications to May 31, the program seems to be running out of funds. Of the $296 billion set aside for the PPP in December, only $66 billion remains unallocated. The Senate voted 92-7 for the deadline extension in a show of bipartisan support for small businesses. This move was crucial for the program to reach businesses that need help the most - women- and minority-owned companies, and those with fewer than twenty employees. After some much-needed content changes to the program in February, the Senate rushed to extend its deadline, too. Additional changes, including a funding increase, were left out. However, advocacy groups and the Small-Business Administration are warning that the money will run out before the deadline, leaving many companies without aid. Businesses rushing to apply for a loan are doing so because a loan backed by the government can be forgiven if businesses spend them on payroll expenses. These funds represent a crucial lifeline and insurance against losses caused by the pandemic. Unfortunately, the money might not reach these companies in time, or at all. The Fed has already faced criticism for its easy policy while both the economy and inflation are soaring. As a result, bipartisan support for the approval of another funding run is far from guaranteed. The businesses left without funds in the first round of applications might miss out on what could be a lifesaving source of aid. As vaccines roll out, the hope remains that independent enterprises will soon be able to return to business-as-usual or at least business of any kind. However, this hope is much fainter for companies run by minorities or those with just a few employees, as funding has been more elusive than ever. 

By Damjan Jugovic Spajic April 16,2021

In a press release published on March 24, the Small Business Administration announced that it is increasing the lending limit for the Economic Injury and Disaster Loans program. Starting April 6, small businesses that have taken out a six-month loan for up to $150,000 will be able to extend the loan to up to 24 months and $500,000. According to the SBA, 3.7 million businesses employing more than 20 million people have received support through the EIDL program. Due to the pandemic lasting longer than expected and increased calls from small businesses for the SBA to remove the $150K cap, the agency decided to more than triple the maximum loan amount. Businesses that are already receiving a loan subject to the old limits do not need to apply for an increase. Instead, the SBA will contact them directly via email, detailing the process for a loan amount increase. Once the new limits are in effect, all new loan applications will automatically be considered for the increased loan limit. This decision comes after the SBA’s announcement that from March 12, it would extend deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the EIDL, to 2022. In an effort to shift all payments to this year, the first payment due for loans starting in 2020 will be pushed back to 24 months after the date on the note and 18 months after the date of the note for loans beginning in 2021. It seems that the federal government is doubling down on its efforts to prop up the ailing economy. Previously, the deadline for PPP loans was extended by two months, following much-needed revisions to the program aimed at helping businesses owned by women and minorities. Additionally, the IRS has made EIDL advances and forgiven funds non-taxable, providing additional financial respite to small businesses.

By Damjan Jugovic Spajic April 12,2021

On Thursday, NASA announced it would be investing more than $45 million into 365 US-based small businesses through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs. NASA’s SBIR program encourages small businesses to engage in R&D for new technology that can be commercialized. Small businesses that meet the R&D requirements will be developing products in the fields of cybersecurity, computing, satellite communication networks, and so on. The Space Technology Mission Directorate’s associate administrator, Jim Reuter, said: “At NASA, we recognize that small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic.” NASA awarded the initial round of funding in 2021 to 289 companies and 47 research centers. Phase I of SBIR is reserved for small businesses and lasts for six months, while Phase I of STTR will go on for thirteen months, and it’s aimed at small companies partnering with a research institution. After the first phase, businesses can reapply with their proposals for additional funding opportunities at NASA. The companies selected based on their technical and commercial potential all operate in the field of human and spacefaring innovation. Many of these organizations are minority- or veteran-owned businesses, minority-serving institutions, and other types of underrepresented research establishments. Some of the awardees, such as Syrnatec Inc., focus on “enabling the next generation of efficient high-power green technology in space and on Earth.” Another one, Innoveering, is working on “developing a wind sensor to enable a flight path control system for high-altitude scientific balloon operations.” The companies are a welcome addition to NASA’s R&D program, and some of them are bound to make a long-lasting impact on our future. “We are excited to have a large cohort of new small businesses join the NASA family via the SBIR/STTR program,” Reuters concluded.

By Julija A. March 30,2021

Google has finally announced its international partners for its $75 million small-business support fund. As a result, numerous companies from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Indonesia, the Middle East, and India are now waiting to receive much-needed aid for overcoming pandemic-related challenges.   In March last year, Google stated it had dedicated over $800 million to help businesses, health organizations, and several governments push through the hardships of COVID-19. As part of that relief program, the latest reveal contained the names of organizations it will be partnering with to deliver $75 million in investments to small businesses outside the US.   The European Investment Fund (EIF) is to receive $25 million in loan capital - the second-biggest share of the aid package. $15 million will be allocated to more than a thousand small European businesses, and EIF’s Life Sciences Fund will be awarded another $10 million to support around 200 life-science companies.   In Latin America, Google partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to make $8 million available to small businesses. On the other side of the world, Kiva - a crowdfunding organization that operates within ten countries - is set to distribute a $26-million loan initiative throughout Indonesia, the Middle East, and Africa. Kiva will also receive an extra $1 million to invest into its local-partnership program.   According to Google’s press release, India is to receive $15 million for small and micro-business investments. The remaining million has been allocated to the Ogen-Israel Social Loan Fund and used to provide low-interest loans to small companies facing pandemic-caused hardships in Israel.   These loans are bound to create opportunities and alleviate hardships for businesses operating from these countries. On the domestic front, Google has already partnered with the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), delivering $90 million in loan aid to small US businesses to date.   So far, Google has provided $340 million in Google Ads credits to all small businesses with active Google Ads accounts. Another $20 million in Google Cloud credits were already distributed to academic institutions researching potential treatments and vaccines to help end the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible.

By Julija A. February 19,2021