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Small Business Briefing

U.S. report rips paid sick-day benefits Add to ...

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A battle begins in Massachusetts

The U.S.-based National Federation of Independent Business has issued a report that claims legally mandated paid sick days for workers in Massachusetts would stamp out billions of dollars worth of productivity and potentially 16,000 jobs over five years.

The findings estimate that 1.3 million citizens in the state lack guaranteed paid sick time out of a work force of nearly three million. The NFIB Research Foundation, which issued the report, has fired "the latest salvo in a public policy battle that has drawn intense interest but little legislative action in recent years," Kyle Cheney writes for BostonHerald.com.

The NFIB has long opposed legislation that would guarantee Massachusetts employees up to a week of sick time a year, allowing them to accrue paid sick time depending on the number of hours they work. The problem, as far as the NFIB is concerned, is that it makes no exceptions for small businesses and it covers temporary and part-time employees, a policy that would hit firms with 20 to 99 employees particularly hard.

Not everyone agrees: "Paid sick days is a common-sense measure that will help get our economy moving again by making sure hard-working men and women can hold on to their jobs, support their families and sustain local businesses,” says Elizabeth Toulan, co-ordinator of the Massachusetts Paid Sick Leave coalition. “Business owners across the state support paid sick days because it’s a good policy for their workers, their customers and their bottom lines.”

The report states that an increase in worker absences as the result of paid sick-day benefits would translate into lost sales and production. Opposing factions contend they enhance productivity by guaranteeing recovery time and lessening the likelihood of contagion.

Three months in New York for six start-ups

Six promising Canadian digital media start-ups will take part in a new Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative in New York, says Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. “Large and dynamic markets like New York City can help expose these entrepreneurs and start-ups to investors, like-minded innovators and other key contacts that can help Canadian companies accelerate their access to new markets and create new high-value jobs,” he explained in a press release. Launched this year by the Consulate General of Canada in New York, the initiative is run by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and modelled on successful CTA initiatives in Silicon Valley. Participating companies spend three months at New York's General Assembly — a campus for technology, design and entrepreneurship — as well as access to business-development and entrepreneurial resources, such as mentors and venture capitalists. The start-ups were chosen based on their high potential for growth and their prospects for success in the New York market. Recruitment for a second group will begin in March, with CTA placement expected at the end of May.

The best books for business owners

Forbes magazine writers have been asking successful entrepreneurs worldwide to reveal what's on their reading lists. "As they will tell you," the publication points out on its must-reads top 30, "many of their ideas were born out of science fiction novels, not finance classes. Reading is the best investment anyone can make in their future. College costs $150,000, but life changing books can cost $10." Readers also have the opportunity to suggest books they think were missed.


Start your Weekend off right

Leap into Startup Weekend is the ticket sale launch party for those interested in attending the next Startup Weekend event in Hamilton, Ont., where ideas are pitched on a Friday night, teams form to work on the business model and build prototypes, and by Sunday night the teams presenting their creations in front of a panel of experts. Organizers and veterans of last October's Startup Weekend event will be at Leap into Startup Weekend to explain what it's about, how it works and what it's like to be a part of one. Leap into Startup Weekend will kick off with a keynote by Yuriy Blokhin of Kik Messenger, followed by networking with snacks and coffee, and some special discount priced tickets. It takes place Feb. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Twitter chat tweets merits of LinkedIn

It takes planning and thought to understand how best to use social-media platforms to their full potential. LinkedIn can connect entrepreneurs, business partners and co-workers, but can it help grow your business? Join contributors from Bank of Montreal on Feb. 23, from noon to 1 p.m. ET, as they discuss the following questions on a Twitter chat: Do you think LinkedIn can be used effectively by a local small business? How does LinkedIn help your business in ways that differ from Facebook? How have you successfully used LinkedIn for business? Log on to Twitter to join the conversation by following @BMOsmb or searching for the #BMOSMBchat hashtag.


Doing business to do good

Since a group of students from the University of Alberta introduced the CeraMaji water filter with the Kenya Ceramics Project in 2007, the effort has led to a factory in Kiminini that employs 10 Kenyans and is producing 400 filters a month to sell to the people of Kenya and Uganda. “That’s my proudest moment – when I see somebody in town just going to a supermarket, picking up one of my filters and then walking out with it,” said Kenyan Ceramics co-founder Abdullah Saleh. “The real challenge is 'how do you motivate somebody to invest in something like that?' That’s the real success, that you make people want to buy it instead of giving it to them.”


What to do when illness strikes

On April 1 of last year, we provided advice from experts on how to keep a small business running smoothly when employees call in sick.

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