NYC Training Guide
The New York City Department of Small Business Services unveiled its NYC Training Guide, an online directory at www.nyc.gov/trainingguide  that allows New Yorkers using the city’s Individual Training Grant vouchers for vocational training to make course selections. The guide includes information on nearly 400 training providers and 4,000 occupational-skills training courses. It is funded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Opportunity.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Navy signed a memorandum of agreement to improve federal contracting opportunities for small disadvantaged firms participating in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. Under the five-year agreement, the Naval Sea Systems Command will use its Seaport-e Web-based services to award federal contracts directly to minority firms. Opportunities for the socially and economically disadvantaged businesses will include 22 types of services, as well as research and development support, engineering and acquisition logistics support. SBA will no longer be an intermediary between the two parties, allowing the Navy to directly request bids and award contracts.
SBA Funding Increase
The SBA received an additional $107 million in funding, after the U.S. Senate’s Appropriations Committee passed the Financial Services Appropriations Bill. The bill increases funding for Small Business Develop-ment Centers by 24 percent to $108 million; for Women’s Business Centers to $13.4 million from $11.9 million; for microloans to $2.5 million from zero funding and microloan technical assistance, which President Bush’s budget sought to eliminate, to $20 million; veterans programs to $1.2 million from $743,000; for HUBZones to $2.2 million from $1 million; and for the 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program to $2.4 million from $1.5 million. The additional funding increases President Bush’s 2009 request approximately by 45 percent.
The Internal Revenue Service increased the optional standard mileage rates for the final six months of 2008 to 58.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven from July 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2008. The increase, up 8 cents from the 50.5-cent rate in effect for the first six months of the year, is a response to the increase in gasoline prices, the IRS said. Taxpayers may use the optional standard rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. The IRS normally updates the mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year. The IRS also increased the new six-month rate for computing deductible medical or moving expenses by 8 cents to 27 cents a mile, up from 19 cents for the first six months of 2008.
Coping in Bad Times
A midyear economic trends report from the National Federation of Independent Business shows the Index of Small Business Optimism at recession-level readings. In June, small-business owners’ expectations for real sales gains and improvements in business conditions were as bad as in 1980 to 1982, the worst recession in recent years, the report says. Twenty percent of small-business employers had reduced, postponed or cancelled a planned investment or reinvestment in the previous six months; a net negative 11 percent reported gains in inventory stocks; 44 percent were spending more time at their businesses than in the previous six months; and all were highly likely to become more attentive to their cash flow and inventory status.
Vintage Black Cinema Stamps
Movie posters highlighting various facets of the African-American cultural experience as represented in early film have been captured on 42-cent commemorative first-class postage stamps. The Vintage Black Cinema souvenir sheet includes 20 stamps in four rows with five different commemorative stamps featuring posters advertising movies produced for Black audiences prior to 1950. The movies include the 1929 film Black and Tan, featuring songs by Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra; the 1921 silent film The Sport of the Gods, based on a novel by Paul Laurence Dunbar; Prinsesse Tam-Tam, starring Josephine Baker and released in France in 1935; and Hallelujah, released in 1929 as one of the first major-studio films to feature an all-Black cast.
Jurors Racial Disparity
A Washington, D.C., Superior Court judge rejected arguments that the city’s Black residents are less likely to be called for jury service than white residents.
The D.C. Public Defender Service has complained for years about racial disparity at the courthouse, but Judge James E. Boasberg upheld the system’s legality, saying Blacks could be over-represented in the group of potential candidates summoned for service. Over a two-year period ending in November, experts recruited by the Public Defender Service found that in a city that was 60 percent Black during that period, 36 percent of Superior Court jurors were Black. Boasberg called the findings misleading, citing a separate analysis done for the U.S. attorney’s office that found a much closer match.
GLOBAL NEWS - Namibia Uranium
Namibia, Africa’s second largest producer of uranium after Niger, licensed its third uranium mine to French nuclear reactor builder Areva. Areva started producing at Trekkopje Uranium Project, owned 100 percent by its subsidiary UraMin Inc., on July 1, and is expected to produce 5 million to 8 million pounds of uranium oxide a year over nine years, starting in early 2009. The mine is expected to create 800 jobs and Areva will offer scholarships for mining personnel. Trekkopje, about 40 miles northeast of the coastal town of Swakopmund, will cost $920 million to develop. Namibia supplies 10 percent of the world’s uranium demand.