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The Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan November 10, 2011. (MIKE SEGAR)
The Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan November 10, 2011. (MIKE SEGAR)

Small Business Briefing

Occupy Wall Street gets surprising rebuke Add to ...

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Small-business owners have their say

Occupy Wall Street may claim small-business owners as members of the 99 per cent, but from Oakland, Calif., to New York, some local U.S. enterprises are asking the protesters to pack up, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

On Tuesday, members of the commercial district in downtown Oakland sent a letter to Mayor Jean Quan, demanding that the protesters go. Five city council members held a press conference Wednesday reaffirming the demand. “The impact of the urban encampment has been very negative,” says Paul Junge, public policy director for the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“We are aware of dozens of small businesses in and around Frank Ogawa Plaza where the tents are, reporting 40- to 50-per-cent losses in the past three or four weeks,” including clothing stores, coffee shops, and conference spaces, Mr. Junge told the Monitor. “People don’t like walking around down there, it makes them nervous ... they are taking their business elsewhere.”

Oakland protesters have formed an outreach committee to liaison with local businesses. “We feel terrible if any of these small shops are hurting,” says Occupy Oakland media team member, Allan Brill.

The problem is that the movement is not hurting the big banks, but rather the small-business owners that are fighting to survive in a recession, entrepreneur Carol Bloom Stevens says. While her business is located in Rye Brook, N.Y., an hour north of New York City, she is sympathetic to all small-business owners. “The Bodegas, coffee shops, food trucks, restaurants ... These people are not part of the ‘elite’ or ‘1 per cent’. They’re simply trying to earn a living and are seeing a significant portion of their customer base being blocked from entering their premises for fear of being caught up in a chaotic situation they don’t really understand.“

Even in locales where the occupation is not in a business sector, there are impacts, says David Fiorenza, an economics professor in the Villanova University School of Business in Philadelphia. Most of Occupy Philadelphia is concentrated near City Hall, away from busy shopping areas. But, Mr. Fiorenza adds, “City Hall is a tourist site, used by neighbouring school districts for day class trips. So, this could alter some of their plans to see the public sector at work.”

Then again, some would see it as a good learning opportunity for them to see protest in action.

Millennials are keen to be entrepreneurs

Fifty-four per cent of millennials in the United States want to start a business, or have already started one, according to a poll funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. An even higher percentage of young minorities – 64 per cent of Latinos and 63 per cent of African-Americans – expressed a desire to start their own companies. Women, at 44 per cent, are less likely to want to start their own businesses than men, at 57 per cent. The poll also points out specific barriers to entrepreneurship, including the inability to access capital, lack of business knowledge, concerns with overcoming current debt burdens, and few mentors. The phone survey, conducted by the Young Invincibles in conjunction with Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research, polled 872 millennials on their thoughts about the economy and entrepreneurship. It was timed to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs Nov. 14 to 20.

Asia-Pacific plan to restore growth

Asia-Pacific business leaders laid out a plan Thursday to try to restore global economic growth focused specifically on boosting finance to small and medium-sized businesses, The China Post writes. The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) revealed that smaller companies make up 90 per cent of all businesses in the Asia-Pacific region and employ nearly 60 per cent of the work force, but they only account for around 30 per cent of exports. ABAC is to present its plan, which also calls for modernizing trade agreements and more “green” growth measures, to leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum at a dialogue in Hawaii on Sunday. APEC's 21 members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Big names, big show

Innovators and social-change agents will tackle "some of the greatest issues of our time" at The Intersection Event, a day-long conference at Pixar Headquarters. Headlining this year’s gathering are actress and UNICEF ambassador Susan Sarandon, technology expert and Walt Disney CTO Greg Brandeau, design connoisseur and IDEO CEO Tim Brown, AOL founder Steve Case, social activist and SVP of Word Vision International Dr. Chris Pitt, Pixar Animation Studios president Dr. Ed Catmull, and education expert and Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill. The conference will provide a select group of 350 participants intimate access on Jan. 14, in Emeryville, Calif.

Lots of awards, lots of money

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation has been recognizing and encouraging innovation in Canada since 1982. Canadian residents who have demonstrated recent innovative talent in developing and successfully marketing a new concept, process or procedure, may be eligible for one of the following: principal award (worth $100,000), award of distinction ($25,000), or one of two innovation awards ($10,000 each). The Young Canadian Program, introduced in 1992, recognizes eight innovative projects selected by a team of judges at the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair. Each project receives $500. A further judging process then selects four projects from the eight to receive $4,000 Manning Young Canadian Innovation Awards at the annual awards dinner and ceremony. Nominations must be received by Dec. 1, 4 p.m. MT.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

A long-running debate

To say that the practice of subsidizing small businesses is polarizing would be an understatement. The fact that governments have for years been funding what they perceive to be promising ventures – whether by way of grants, loans, export assistance, consulting, or assistance lumped under the umbrella of economic development – has not bridged an ideological divide about the practice. It's an long-running debate, but one that's come to the fore again with the recent release of a federal report from a panel of experts, which urged the government to help provide more businesses with capital, and to provide more subsidies “to help SMEs grow into larger, competitive firms.”

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Need government funding?

A big source of frustration for small companies doing research and development into new and innovative products is finding helpful and relevant government funding and programs. There are lots of them out there, at all levels of government, to help small companies overcome research and business challenges with either additional funding or resources. But keeping track of them is difficult, and adding to the complexity is that no two ministries will administer and publicize a government program the same way. Click through for a few of the commonly used federal programs.

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