Looking for ways to perform community service? Now you can find outlets on the Web. A joint venture between Business Volunteers Unlimited (www.businessvolunteers.org) and Cleveland Live (www.cleveland.com) offers volunteer matching services for those in the Northeast Ohio area.
People seeking volunteer opportunities can log onto one of two sites -- www.businessvolunteers.org/involved.htm or www.cleveland.com/volunteer -- and find specific information that matches personal interests with volunteer needs. Nonprofit organizations can also use the service to list opportunities.
Would-be entrepreneurs in search of start-up funds can set their sights on the Working for Empowerment through Community Organizing Microloan Fund. WECO is accepting applications for the loans from those looking to launch start-up businesses or expand current ones. Eligible applicants are:
- Residents of Cuyahoga County;
- In business with 10 or fewer employees;
- At a low to moderate income level;
- Requesting up to $7,500.
For more information, contact WECO at (216) 881-9650.
Walking for charity
Put on your walking shoes. On Oct. 22, the Northeast Ohio chapter of the ALS Association will hold the Walk To D'Feet ALS to raise funds for local patient services. The 5K walk will begin at 9 a.m. on the Cuyahoga Valley Tow Path near Boston Mills.
Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS occurs when motor nerve cells in the nervous system cease functioning and die. Although the mind remains unaffected, muscle control is completely lost and total paralysis sets in. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years. For more information on the walk, contact the ALSA office at (216) 592-2572.
State of the printed word
It doesn't seem that long ago that doomsayers predicted the Internet would spell the end of the printed word. Downloadable news, books and magazines would make paperbacks, magazines and newspapers obsolete. Well, if you're reading this, the doomsayers were undoubtedly wrong.
But, for those who still retain concerns, there's an online forum, www.espeakonline.com, for people who still move headfirst toward the digital future with reservations. The site is focused on being a resource for people concerned about the Internet, its impact on writing, publishing, information marketing and communication -- in print and on the Web. Just one quick reminder: you have to write your questions in virtual ink.
60 seconds to savings
How can taking a one-minute quiz help your business obtain a federal tax deduction that might have otherwise go unclaimed? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my company have excess, nonmoving inventory?
- Do we have return, cancelled orders, seconds, slow sellers or discontinued models, styles or colors?
If the answer is yes to either of the above, your company can earn a federal income tax deduction by donating those items to charity. In some cases, the deduction can be as much as twice cost. For more information on how this can apply to your business, contact the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources at (880) 289-4551.
There's a direct correlation between the economy and benefits offered by employers, according to a survey by RewardsPlus. It's no coincidence that health coverage has improved among most companies as the economy has remained robust in recent years. The survey found:
- 82 percent of small business employers offer medical coverage to their employees;
- 40 percent offer a dental plan;
- 10 percent offer a vision plan.
What's that mean for your firm? If you're among the thousands of smaller business owners, you should know what your competitors are up to ... and realize in a tight labor market that it's no longer just about salaries. Benefits often dictate whether you'll land that prospect or not.
Singing the blues
Forget Napster and other digital music dilemmas of this new century. Nashville-based Broadcast Music Inc. -- a professional association for musicians -- is trying to spread the word that piping background music into your place of business may be a violation of copyright law.
"Many people know that buying a copy of a movie doesn't give them the legal right to open up a movie theater or play a movie in their business," explains Tom Annastas, BMI vice president of general licensing. "Similarly, music is an intellectual property, and various uses of that property entitle the creator to additional compensation."
Enforcement of the law was not addressed in a recent BMI press release, although the organization mentioned a single licensing deal with BMI would allow businesses access to "millions" of songs. Nevertheless, we don't expect business owners to start mailing checks to Nashville any time soon.
Thought you had your company's Web image protected by snatching up the .com, .net and .org domain names? Think again. CentralNic Ltd. recently launched .us.com and .eu.com, two new domain name registry options available through the British company.
CentralNic hopes these options will help level the domain name playing field by allowing companies and Web geeks alike to register favorite domain names, which may already be taken when it comes to popular top-level domain names with .com and .net. Since the new names come with a price tag of $99 for a two-year registration, get ready to hand over another $200 to keep others from running away with your company's Web identity.
What's luck got to do with it?
As Congress and the president negotiate how best to spend the seemingly ever-expanding federal budget surplus, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Vice President and Economist David Altig warns that economic policy successes since the mid-1990s are more a matter of luck than anything else. He also believes they could evaporate as quickly as they arrived.
In an article titled "Fiscal Policy and Fickle Fortune: What's Luck Got to Do with It?" Altig argues that the Bush budget legislation of 1991, largely thought to be a failure, and the much-lauded Clinton proposal were nearly identical. Instead, he argues it was unforeseen forces that have led to today's rosy federal budget picture or, in other words, simple luck.
It may be time for Congress to cross its fingers before figuring out how to spend future fiscal surpluses before they hatch.
Where the Web meets the road
Cuyahoga Falls-based RCS Management Group Inc., in conjunction with Data Direct Inc., is offering a new service to make your clicks and mortar dreams come true. A new subscription-based "Locator Service" allows Web surfers a chance to enter their address and receive a map to a company's nearest physical location, along with its hours, phone numbers, special offers and even turn-by-turn driving directions.
The biggest advantage of the service, however, is that subscribers can capture their Web visitors' physical addresses for demographic profiling and future marketing campaigns.
If online investing leaves you feeling a bit stressed with all the surfing, clicking and bookmarking needed to make smart investment decisions, a Columbus-based company hopes to melt all those worries away. Adriane Berg's InvsetmentSpy -- designed by software development firm Quantam Axcess -- helps beginner, intermediate and even seasoned investing pros track, manage and research stocks online.
The utility, which was awarded the coveted five-star rating by ZDNet last March, has been dubbed the "Swiss army knife of online investor software" and claims to merge all the information you'll need for smart investing into one easy-to-read interface. The program runs just under $40 and can be downloaded from www.investmentspy.com.
Solon-based Keithley Instruments Inc. was recently added to the Russell 2000 Index of small capitalization stocks following the Frank Russell Co.'s annual adjustment of its U.S. stock indices.
"Recognition on the Russell 2000 Index is further testament to Keithley's growth and acceptance of its long-term strategy," said Chairman, President and CEO Joseph P. Keithley in a prepared statement on the day of the announcement.
It has been a high-flying year for Keithley Instruments, which has generated a lot of Wall Street ink and been a top performer on the New York Stock Exchange, having increased from just more than $4 a share to more than $107 at its highest point during the past year.
Like any business, America's fastest growing companies are not immune to operational breakdowns or failures that can bring commerce to a halt. However, a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests not many are doing enough to prepare for trouble before it happens.
Although 61 percent of executives polled in a recent survey favored having a predisaster program that evaluates threats to their businesses beyond those covered by insurance, only about 30 percent actually had such a program in place. More than half of those polled said they had a plan to deal with disaster only after it occurs.
What slowing economy?
The need for mid-to-upper-level managers, high-level executives and professionals is as intense as ever, according to executives faced with the challenge of finding and hiring of them. However, the Midwest does not have it as bad as some other parts of the country when it comes to the labor crunch. A hiring survey conducted by Management Recruiters International Inc. found 53 percent of executives reported they had plans to increase their mid-to-upper-level management and professional staffs during the second half of the year.
"If recent rumblings that the economy is slowing are true, it is certainly not reflected in the job market," says MRI President and CEO Allen Salikof. Forty-seven percent of Midwest executives expect to hire during the second half of the year, but that figure is expected to fall 5 percent a year from now. Meanwhile, New England seems to be the hardest hit. Nearly 70 percent of executives plan to hire more people this year, while that figure is expected to climb to 86 percent one year from now.