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Dusk sets in over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, January 24, 2012. (JONATHAN ERNST)
Dusk sets in over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, January 24, 2012. (JONATHAN ERNST)

Small Business Briefing

U.S. lawmakers vote to lift restrictions on crowdfunding Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Democrats and Republicans agree on small business

U.S. lawmakers on Thursday passed a package of bills to make it easier for small businesses to raise the capital required for hiring and other forms of growth, Associated Press reports in a story on boston.com.

Of the six bills in the package, four had already passed by large margins. The legislation now goes to the U.S. Senate, where Democratic leaders have said they will put forth a similar small-business promotion package. The latest House vote was 390 to 23.

The bills would make it easier for small companies to go public by providing a temporary reprieve from Securities and Exchange Commission regulations: among other things by removing SEC restrictions preventing companies from using advertisements to solicit investors, and eliminating constraints on ‘‘crowdfunding’’ so entrepreneurs can raise equity capital from a large pool of small investors.

Republican Jared Polis (D-Colo.) says the measure would free up capital flow for startups, but added, ‘‘it’s not a jobs solution for our country, it’s not a jobs bill. In fact, I think the frustration of some is that to a certain extent it represents the spinning of the wheels that has typified this Congress."

In a statement, The White House pointed out there was common ground between the package and proposals to encourage start-ups that Mr. Obama made in an address to Congress last September and in legislation he sent last month.

A new role for Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba has joined the ranks of celebrity entrepreneurs, and CNBC writes that she chose the Montgomery Tech Conference as the place to present her business model to investors and 190 other startups. Ms. Alba in January co-founded Honest Co., a subscription service for non-toxic baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, bubble bath and detergent. She says many of the supposedly kid-friendly products she used on her own child were full of dangerous chemicals, and that truly non-toxic products were expensive and hard to find. Ms. Alba teamed with serial entrepreneur Brian Lee, co-founder of LegalZoom, who suggested making it a subscription service, allowing the company to avoid tdealing with retailers.


Startup business plan competition

If you're a student or recent grad of the University of Windsor or St. Clair College, here's a chance for your startup business to win $25,000. Eligible companies must be within one year of launch, with less than $25,000 in investment and demonstrate that they will have economic impact in Ontario and on the development of a young entrepreneur. They must also be willing to work with the Centre for Enterprise and Law, one of the sponsors of the competition, which is also in collaboration with the faculty of law and Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor. For more information, click here.

Think conference

Registration is open for the inaugural Think conference, focused on "interconnectedness." Organizations will have a chance to exchange knowledge, share best practices and develop ideas to lead to innovative solutions, challenging participants to think differently. Presented by the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), the event takes place April 16 in Toronto. For more information, click here.


Ottawa targets ‘high-value’ entrepreneurs with new immigration program

Ottawa plans to replace the immigrant entrepreneur program it shelved last year with a new system aimed at identifying and speeding the path for “high value innovators,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says.


Project connects immigrants with small businesses

Many small business owners are in desperate need of skilled workers, but are either unaware of or don’t consider the qualified pool of new immigrants that have already arrived in Canada. At the same time, many newcomers want to work at large companies they’ve heard of back home but either do not know of or don’t think about approaching smaller companies that could use their skills, we wrote in a story last July, that looked at a project set up by by the Maytree Foundation to connect the two.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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