In an abandoned grocery store in a formerly abandoned St. Louis neighborhood, Habitata Building Products, LLC, makers of Halcyon Shades, has brought American jobs back from Mexico and in the process transformed a neighborhood.
And folks have noticed. Habitata has won a 2013 MO SBTDC Excellence in Business Award, a St. Louis business of the year award, a state small employer partnership award and the 2012 Flag of Freedom Award for helping veterans secure meaningful careers.
Not too long ago, Habitata's neighborhood, McRee Town, was one of the worst in the St. Louis metro area. Crime was rampant, and buildings were either vacant or falling down. The city of St. Louis decided on a draconian solution — level it and start over.
Halcyon Shades chose to put its manufacturing facility in McRee Town because the owners believed in the city and its people. They found an empty grocery store and repurposed it into a factory, storage facility and offices. As a result of their efforts and those of others, McRee Town is now called Botanical Heights and is a national model of urban renewal.
But it almost didn't happen.
Kemper Military School, Boonville, Mo., was founded in 1844. The "West Point of the West" boasts humorist Will Rogers; James Stowers, founder of American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research; Donald Tyson, former CEO of Tyson Foods; congressmen, senators and governors; and brigadier, major and lieutenant generals as alumni. It survived the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam War.
But it didn't survive the 21st century.
Declining enrollments brought about Kemper’s closure in 2002. Ten beautiful, neocolonial buildings, including red-brick academic halls, a gracious president's home and large residence halls, sat vacant.
The 46-acre campus had played a large role in the city's identity as a popular 19th century Missouri river town destination. (The town has more than 400 antebellum and other architectural sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including Kemper). Boonville, already hit hard by plant closings, had lost its sole institution of higher education and hundreds of cadets as well as positions for instructors and administrative support staff. The city's population had to commute to Fayette, Marshall, Sedalia or Columbia for higher education.
The city did not want to see the campus abandoned, so it purchased Kemper in 2003. But over time, the buildings fell into disrepair, roofs sagged and portions of the campus were surrounded by high wire fencing. Worse, a large tower atop the administrative building collapsed in 2010.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and the Supreme Court's upholding of its constitutionality in 2012 have caused small business owners a great deal of apprehension and confusion. Yes, the act aims for universal healthcare, and no one really knows its ultimate cost.
But here's the good news: if you employ 50 or fewer individuals, you are exempt from the employer mandate of the ACA. No one is exempt from the law's requirement that all individuals carry health insurance, however.
Here are four things you should know about the act and how it affects your bottom line.
- Exemption. One of the most common misconceptions about the ACA is that all employers are required to provide coverage to their employees.
This is simply not true. If you employ 50 or fewer individuals, you are not required to provide coverage to employees.
Beginning in 2014, however, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (or full-time equivalents, defined as working 30 or more hours per week) that don't offer a minimum level of coverage to full-time employees and their dependents may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment.
Beginning with this issue, we are honored to profile the members of the MU Business Development Program statewide advisory board. These highly experienced individuals help guide the activities and decisions of the MO SBTDC and its sister programs, offer input from their respective industries and advocate for the programs at the national, state and regional levels. The entire state benefits from the wealth of knowledge these board members bring to the organization.Rob Herhold
Rob Herhold, a 13-year member of the board, is president of The Institute for Strategic Management Practices (ISMP), which provides international consulting and education to all industry sectors, both public and private. ISMP also assists organizations in their applications for the Missouri Quality Award and Malcolm Baldrige Award, a national competition.
Herhold is a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award examiner alum and former chairperson for the Ishikawa Medal Committee. He has also been a member of the Consortium for Supply Chain Management Steering Committee at St. Louis University, Epworth Children and Family Services, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Performance Management Association, International Society of Six Sigma Professionals and Customer Satisfaction Measurement Association, among other organizations.
Prior to forming ISMP, Herhold was vice president of the Excellence in Missouri Foundation, administering the Missouri and Team Quality Award and consulting, educating and providing Baldrige Criteria education and assessments to the health care, manufacturing, service, education and public sectors. Over his career, Herhold has consulted for virtually every leading institution in Missouri and hundreds of firms around the world from aerospace (Boeing, Rockwell Collins) and government (Belgium, Finland and Canada) to utilities (Carolina and Florida Power & Light, Hydro Quebec and Tennessee Valley Authority).
Herhold was with Boeing St. Louis for nearly 20 years, helping develop, among other initiatives, the Boeing Balanced Scorecard. He has also worked for TRW in one of the first Fortune 500 company efforts to employ Japanese lean manufacturing techniques.
"The MO SBDTC brings a solid core of business knowledge and education to those individuals who aspire to be successful business owners," says Herhold, "thereby stimulating creativity, innovation, job creation and the overall economic development in the state of Missouri. I think the future of the MO SBDTC is bright as it continues to evolve to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and support the economic health of our state."
From October 2012 through January 2013, SBA loans totaled nearly $72 million in eastern Missouri, a district that includes St. Louis, Columbia, Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau.
The SBA reports 51 lenders made 159 loans totaling $71.9 million in the district, up from 130 loans and $40 million at the same time last year. That's 80 percent more than this time last year, a reliable indicator of increased economic activity.
Midwest Regional Bank topped all lenders in dollar amount with eight SBA-guaranteed loans totaling $17.2 million; Bank of Washington was second, with six loans totaling $6.8 million; and Commerce Bank was third, with 10 loans worth $3.7 million. U.S. Bank made the highest number of loans at 16 loans worth $787,000.
Final data was not available for the Kansas City District, but an SBA official indicated loan volume appears to be up. This district includes 61 counties in western Missouri, including Kansas City, Springfield and 28 counties in eastern Kansas.
Keith McLaughlin, senior vice president and manager of the SBA-dedicated lending program at the Columbia branch of the Bank of Missouri, has been a member of the advisory board since 1995. The Bank of Missouri ranks first among community banks in the number of SBA loans originated in the SBA St. Louis District, which includes St. Louis and eastern Missouri.
In 2008 the SBA selected McLaughlin from 80 candidates nationwide as its National Small Business Financial Services Champion.
In his long and distinguished banking career, McLaughlin has also founded America's Business Brokers, an organization to help small business entrepreneurs buy and sell their businesses; had his own business recognized by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce with its distinguished Small Business of the Year Award and by the Columbia Business Times with a Titan Award; received the 2006 University Extension Community Resource Development Association Award; and managed the mid-Missouri SBA lending program for Union Planters Bank. In 2006, McLaughlin was also named to the SBA's National Advisory Council Executive Committee to advise the SBA, Congress and the White House on small business issues.
"I find it personally rewarding to share my experience and ideas with a group of creative and like-minded people whose common purpose is to grow Missouri's economy," says McLaughlin of his board membership. "It is through my membership on the advisory board that I can contribute to this important endeavor and witness the economic value the SBTDC brings to our state."
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings waste an average of 20 percent of the energy they pay for. Over a year, these costs can add up to thousands of dollars.
An energy audit can quickly identify inefficiencies and calculate the cost of wasted energy for your business, provide options and costs for upgrading energy performance and help you make informed and effective energy decisions. However, not all audits or auditors provide the same services, and selecting the right one requires some basic knowledge. The following five steps can help you choose the right type of energy audit and auditor for your business.
Energy assessment. A number of technical assistance providers, including many utility companies, can review your utility bills and compare your building, equipment and energy use using a standardized assessment tool. Sometimes called a "clipboard audit," these assessments are no- or low-cost, but that doesn't mean they are not valuable. An energy assessment can pinpoint common and basic savings opportunities and identify areas for further investigation. You can also complete your own energy assessment at energyguide.com, or contact your local utility provider to see if they offer assessments and financial incentives for energy efficiency.
Contractor audit. A contracted auditor should provide a more in-depth audit, including analysis of two to five years of utility bills. Monitoring equipment, such as data loggers and submetering, might be used to measure energy consumption or to observe use patterns for equipment suspected of contributing to high energy use or peak demand loads. The auditor will also examine your building envelope and roof and crawl spaces and will probably use blower doors and thermal imaging cameras to identify energy loss throughout the building. If a contractor performs a lighting audit, they should not just recommend replacing lighting fixtures with more energy efficient ones but first use light meters to determine actual lighting needs. Any lighting upgrade should also comply with lighting levels recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
If you're like most business users, it's probably a bit of both.
Fortunately you can tip the scales in favor of saving time with online tools for your business and personal use. Some are free, while others charge a monthly fee; many have a free basic version with upgraded features for a modest charge.
Project management/file sharing
- Basecamp, a project management and collaboration program that lets you share files, messages and calendars.
- Google Docs allows you to create, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
- Box.com is a cloud-based file-sharing solution that lets you access, manage and share content from any location on any device.
- DropBox, another cloud-based solution, stores documents, photos and videos and allows individuals or teams to access or share them.
- Bill.com automates business bill payment and invoices, keeps track of cash flow and is compatible with many popular business accounting software suites.
- Catch the Best helps you find the best candidates for open positions by creating a database of job applicants and tracking which job boards and ads are most effective.
Expecting your banker to know you personally and know your business inside out may be wishful thinking. So, here are six tips to prepare for a successful meeting with your banker:
- Bring your financials. Always make sure your banker has your most recent financial data. These will give her or him a good idea of your business and show you are on top of day-to-day management.
- Show what you've done to control costs. Bring your banker a list of decisions you've made in the past year or since your last meeting to control expenses, too. This, again, shows good management.
- Talk strategy! Indicate what you've done to increase revenue and how that fits with your capital needs for the next year or two. And a strategy is not just good for meeting with your banker, it's imperative for any business to know where it's going.
The MO SBTDC and MO PTAC offer a variety of outstanding educational opportunities throughout the year. Here are highlights of upcoming events.
Learn how to incorporate social media strategies into your marketing campaigns in this intensive seminar to be held March 21 at Missouri State University's Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise & Business Development, 405 N. Jefferson Ave., Springfield, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The seminar is the first in a series of four that will help you understand the positives and negatives of social sites, the importance of monitoring your site, the best monitoring tools and the secrets of writing for social media. Seminar fee is $119. For more information or to register, visit https://ws.missouristate.edu/sbdc/seminar.asp?seminarID=76&seriesID=1.
Join Missouri Senator Mike Parson and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce for a free forum on developing your business and exporting opportunities at the Cowan Civic Center, Lebanon, March 22, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guest speakers include a CenturyLink representative speaking on rural broadband; Randy Allen, president of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce; Katie Steele Danner, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism; Jackie Rasmussen, business specialist with the Camden County MU Extension SBTDC; and Ann Pardalos, manager of International Trade & Investment, Missouri Department of Economic Development. For more information, Jacqueline Rasmussen at RasmussenJ@missouri.edu or 573-346-2644.
ProductCamp St. Louis, a free "unconference" to be held March 23 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Louis Community College, 3221 McKelvey Road, Bridgeton, is a user-driven event focused on physical and digital product development, management and marketing. The conference will help you discover best practices in different industries and state-of-the-art methods to build and market world-class products; exchange knowledge and insights with fellow brand, marketing and product professionals; and connect with fellow leaders for ideas and solutions to your daily challenges.
The theme of this year's event is "Innovation Makes." ProductCamp has held hundreds of events since 2008 in locations as far-flung as Kiev, Ukraine, St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Silicon Valley. ProductCamp St. Louis is facilitated through the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College's Corporate College. For more information, visit productcampstl.eventbrite.com or register at eventbrite.com/org/3054138356?s=11642294.
This business conference on the crucial issues facing small business will be held 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 27 at Tan-Tar-A Resort's Salon A, 494 Tan-Tar-A Drive in Osage Beach. Session break-outs will focus on new human resource and employee healthcare regulations, the latest Lake area demographic trends and effective networking and communications. Registration deadline is March 20. For more information, contact Jacqueline Rasmussen at RasmussenJ@missouri.edu or 573-346-2644. The agenda is online at lakebusinessconference.com. To register, visit missouribusiness.net/calendar/date.asp?EventID=209776&
Date=3/27/2013&SessionID=1. Fee is $40.
This forum, free to veterans or current service members, to be held from noon to 4 p.m. in Cornell Auditorium and in Plaster Hall, Room 104, Missouri State Southern University (MSSU), 3950 Newman Rd., Joplin, will provide information about educational, business, financial and governmental programs and services available to veterans or to those currently serving. The program will include information regarding Patriot Loans for veterans, VA home loans, MSSU educational and financial aid opportunities, marketing products and services to the government, MO SBTDC services and workshops and business opportunities for veterans. A free lunch is included. For more information, contact Karen Bradshaw at email@example.com or 417-625-9520 or visit mssutraining.com/workshops.
Learn how to expand sales and create jobs by entering the international marketplace at this export training session to be held April 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, 213 Adams Street, Jefferson City. Admission is free, and lunch will be provided. Learn more about the Missouri International Trade Assistance Network, core global trade concepts, global business management and marketing, supply chain management and trade finance. Case studies of successful Missouri new-to-export companies will also be presented. This event is sponsored by the MO SBTDC and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Office of International Trade & Investment. To learn more, contact Larry Dill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-241-1511.
Save the date: Don't miss the 25th annual Procurement Conference, sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers and the MO SBTDC. This is one of the country's premier conferences on procuring government contracting; past speakers have included the secretary of the navy, generals, rear admirals and small business owners who have succeeded in securing government contracts. Details will be coming to the MO PTAC website.
Accredited Member of the ASBDC
Association of Small Business Development Centers.
Representing America's SBDC Network
Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
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