The Week in Small Business – 05.07.11

We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.

Businesses Cash in on bin Laden — Sometimes at a Cost

The news this week was President Obama’s Sunday night address announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. As tends to happen during global media frenzies, Reuters reported that some businesses rushed to capitalize on the news. While that can produce a short-term windfall — one t-shirt vendor expected its daily sales to double — it can also sully a business’ image, as one Chicago bar learned. The watering hole’s PR firm had to issue an apology for a marketing email promoting bin Laden-themed cocktail names that generated complaints.

After Saying No to Amazon, SC Says: Welcome, Wal-Mart!

So much for South Carolina’s small business state of mind. A week after lawmakers voted to reject a tax package to lure Amazon.com and 1,250 new jobs to South Carolina — a move  hailed as a potential sea change in economic policy-making in the state — Wal-Mart announced it would open dozens of new stores there and create 4,000 new jobs over the next five years. The State reports that one local politician is crying foul, describing the move as payback from Wal-Mart to Governor Nikki Haley for opposing Amazon’s plans in South Carolina. The head of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce had some choice words, telling AP that small businesses need to “either die or get creative” to compete with the superstore.

U.S. Census: Asian-Owned Businesses Jump 40 Percent

Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the number of Asian-owned businesses in the country increased 40 percent between 2002 and 2007, more than double the national growth rate. Those businesses tallied more than $500 billion in receipts, says the Census Bureau, which conducts its “Survey of Business Owners” every five years. It publishes the data on a rolling basis, with final figures to arrive in June.

CARD Act Doesn’t Necessarily Protect Your Plastic

Did you know that your small business credit card is not afforded the same protections recently granted to consumers under the CARD Act? Banks, if they choose to do so, can still jack up interest rates or implement policies such as double-cycle billing on business credit cards, practices now prohibited by federal law on consumer accounts. Some banks proactively apply at least some of the CARD Act protections to business cards, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek story based on recent data published by Card Hub, a credit card information site. The bad news: Card Hub’s report says that Bank of America is the only one of the top 10 credit card issuers to implement all of the CARD Act rules for business accounts.

Small Business Borrowing Slowly Rises

Paynet data released this week shows borrowing by U.S. small businesses in March continued its recent rise, although at a slower rate than in previous months. While borrowing remains lukewarm, Paynet’s president tells Reuters that the better news is that small business loan defaults are at their lowest point in four-and-a-half years. Looking for a loan? Investopedia serves up six tips for getting one.

About Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey is a regular contributor here, at InformationWeek and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @kevinrcasey.
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