Self-Certification
The U.S. Small Business Admin-istration issued an interim final rule on accepting “self-certification” for small disadvantaged business (SDB) status for purposes of federal prime contracts and subcontracts. The rule allows firms to self-represent their status for subcontracting purposes without first receiving any SDB certification by the SBA. The National Black Chamber of Commerce says the change will allow a flood of fraud and misrepresentation to the detriment of bona fide minority businesses seeking to compete on federal contracts. “It appears the SBA wants to do this so they can pad their minority and small-business figures with this expected surge of misrepresentation. This will negatively and directly affect us all,” the chamber says.

Peebles in Queens
The Peebles Corporation, a leading African-American real estate development company, is a partner in Aqueduct Gaming L.L.C., which was chosen to create and operate a gaming and entertainment destination at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City’s borough of Queens. The project consists of 328,000 square feet of world-class gaming and entertainment, with subsequent components such as a hotel, conference center, retail, restaurants and spa. The complex is expected to generate about $10.3 billion for education over the next 30 years. Aqueduct Gaming will pay $370 million up front to the state and will spend at least $250 million on the gaming and entertainment facility, plus $170 million over the term of the agreement to ensure consistent high quality? Another $200 million is anticipated for the hotel and other components. A small-business development center and job center will be established in Queens to provide job training, host job fairs and provide access to opportunities for local service providers. 

Bowman Videos
Wall Street-based E.G. Bowman Co. (www.egbowman.com.), America’s largest minority-owned insurance broker and loss-control consulting firm, launched Citi Communications to help organizations cut workers’ compensation and general liability claims by educating employees through organization-specific videos. Tailored for national or regional use, the videos will be available on employees’ computers to continually reinforce safety messages and procedures. In business for more than 55 years and licensed in all 50 states, E.G. Bowman’s clients are Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. 

Forbes and UnityFirst

Forbes magazine partnered with UnityFirst.com to distribute the diversity- focused special advertising sections produced by Forbes Custom Solutions and to share other diversity and business news generated by UnityFirst.com. The Forbes special sections and other business news about diversity will be shared throughout the UnityFirst.com network, including its quarterly e-magazine and weekly Business World Index. Beginning Dec. 1, 2008, select articles will be posted on ForbesDiversity.com. Janine Fondon, president and CEO of UnityFirst.com, is a Network Journal  “25 Influential Black Women in Business” honoree.

Entrepreneurship Center

The Urban League of Philadelphia launched an Entrepreneurship Center to help small businesses grow and enable minority entrepreneurs to take advantage of new business opportunities and qualify for financing that will lead to a high level of business growth through proper management skills. Entrepreneurs will receive individualized management assistance and group training services designed to increase their market share and offer living-wage employment opportunities to area residents. The Entrepreneurship Center is funded by a grant from the UPS Foundation. 

Wal-Mart’s Philanthropy
The Wal-Mart Foundation announced a $4.2 million grant to the Institute for Higher Education Policy to support programs to increase first-generation student success at minority-serving institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. Thirty colleges will receive grants of $100,000 each to improve student retention and academic success. Selected institutions will also receive staff and consultant support and will participate in IHEP’s Summer Academy to share their progress and program evaluation.

Courts in the U.S.
Courts Caribbean, the largest Caribbean furniture, electronics and appliance retailer, entered the North American market with an 8,000-square-foot store in Brooklyn, N.Y., located at 2822 Church Ave. Courts Caribbean is a division of The Unicomer Group, which operates more than 90 stores in 11 Caribbean countries and in Central America. In the United States, its holdings include Los Angeles-based La Curacao Courts and the Radio Shack franchise. The Brooklyn store offers customers the option to have orders delivered without charge to Caribbean destinations. Courts’ former U.K. parent company, Courts P.L.C., went into receivership in November 2004.


GLOBAL NEWS

Beyond Iraq
Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms are joining the battle against pirates plaguing one of the world’s most important shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia. The growing interest among merchant fleets to hire their own firepower is encouraged by the U.S. Navy and represents a new and potential lucrative market for security firms scaling back operations in Iraq. Some maritime organizations warn that armed guards may increase the danger to ships’ crews or that overzealous contractors might accidentally fire on fishermen. 

The Business of Education
British publisher Pearson PLC, which puts out the Financial Times and Penguin books, said it will take majority ownership in South African educational publisher Maskew Miller Longman. Pearson already owns 50 percent of Maskew Miller Longman and will spend $74 million to buy 35 percent more from South African media company Caxton and CTP Publishers and Printers Ltd. It plans to combine Maskew with its other regional publishers to create Pearson Southern Africa. Caxton will own 15 percent of the new company. Pearson has been expanding its education business internationally, citing high growth potential.

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