If you live in one of seven communities in Allegheny County and operate a business or would like to, you might qualify for a $10,000 loan to boost your entrepreneurial aspirations.
Individuals who live in Braddock, Clairton, Duquesne, Homestead, McKees Rocks, Rankin or Wilkinsburg meet the first requirement for a loan through the Sanders Microenterprise Development Initiative, a division of the Minority Enterprise Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The loans may be used to acquire, expand or start a business. Applicants must also receive technical assistance through the program.
The Sanders initiative also offers free entrepreneurial and life skills training in Wilkinsburg, Duquesne and McKees Rocks, and applications are being accepted for those sessions.
The Minority Enterprise Corp. is developing business resource centers in community libraries in the seven communities, offering research materials and demographic information. The MEC plans to offer Internet access as well.
Entrepreneurs interested in applying can visit the loan assistance office at 1601 Penn Ave. in Wilkinsburg. How to reach: MEC, www.minorityenterprise.com or (412) 434-5881
I wanted to comment on your Boy Scout editorial ["Make 'em earn it," SBN, August 2000] from the perspective of a Cub Scout den leader, a father and a company president.
I agree with your "make the Scouts earn it" fund-raising mentality, but I would suggest you worry more about what parents are teaching and less about the Scout masters.
Our Cub Scout pack recently held our annual awards dinner. All of the Scouts and their family members were invited. The cost was $1 per person for all the Joseppi's pizza they could eat. Uniformed scouts were stationed at the door to collect the money. We had approximately 230 people attend and collected $175. Yes, around 55 people stiffed the Cub Scouts out of a buck!
Of course, these same people won't participate in any fund-raisers. By the way, the dinner was held in a church.
Guess what? Our Scout master was right back at it the next week planning future events.
Cigarette, gun debates have same flaw
Good article ["Displaced aggression," SBN, June 2000]. I totally agree with you. The same logic also applies to the lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
If we held the criminal behind the gun liable for his or her actions, and not the inanimate object itself, we could restore some sanity to that debate.
Rick A. Smith
president and CEO
Applied Thermal Engineering Inc.
Every year, the Innovation in Business Conference is possible because of the dedication and support of its generous sponsors.
They choose to be a part of the event because of their commitment to innovation, not only within the general business community, but within their respective industries and, of course, their companies. Here, then, in their own words, are their reasons for their involvement and their views on the importance of innovation.
Joseph LaGuardia, vice president of Ohio sales for Anthem, encourages his employees to work innovatively, whether it be in service, sales, network marketing, management or distribution. In his mind, all aspects of a company can stand a little forward thinking.
"I believe in innovation," says LaGuardia. "And I believe in recognizing and encouraging businesses in our community."
That helps explain why the giant health insurance firm co-developed the Innovation in Business Conference with SBN magazine in 1999. In this, the conference's second year, Anthem has helped facilitate the drive for recognition of Northeast Ohio's premier innovators.
According to LaGuardia, innovation is also the Anthem philosophy.
In the health care industry, insurers and their partners face a consumer-driven industry more and more. Thus, he says, "We need to respond effectively to market conditions, government regulations and customer expectations."
Paul Schlather, managing partner of Arthur Andersen, says his firm became involved with the Innovation in Business Conference because he believes in innovation.
"We're in the infancy of what I like to call the technology revolution," says Schlather. "If we're going to be players, we have to be involved; and the earlier you get involved, the better off you're going to be in the long run. Technology drives the changes we see taking place today, so you have to be prepared."
To ensure that it remains competitive and innovative, Arthur Andersen employs what it terms the "Exceeds" model in dealing with customers to maximize customer satisfaction. The model has been used for years in the manufacturing sector, exemplified by customer surveys and questionnaires, but has largely been ignored in the service industry. Arthur Andersen strives to change that pattern.
"We never used to ask customers, 'How are we doing?' or 'What can we do better for you?'" says Schlather.
Now, he sees better communication between employees and clients and a better overall understanding on everybody's part.
Chief Operating Officer Carol Thomas says that Brouse McDowell has always fashioned itself to be an innovative law firm.
"Innovation is critical to a business' success," she says.
Thomas says she would rather a business be proactive in getting legal help than reactive. That, she says, shows people are being innovative and taking risks.
"People shouldn't wait," Thomas says. "They need to plan on a strategy now."
Innovation has been Brouse McDowell's hallmark, says Thomas, "because not only has it made everyone more effective, but it has reduced clients costs."
Clients save money in travel fees and phone call charges with Brouse McDowell's "E-room" service, a collaborative work environment that allows clients and lawyers to work together in real time on documents. Now, clients and lawyers can sit at their respective computers working together virtually.
Soon clients will be able to go a step further and log in securely at Brouse McDowell's Web site to view their billing status, see documents their lawyers have prepared for them and leave messages for lawyers.
"Innovation keeps the firm competitive and allows it to attract good employees," says Thomas. "It allows them to go home and be with their families because they can access their documents and information at all times."
Mary Rose Daugherty, area sales manager of Sarcom/Frontway, has seen a definite need for innovation in today's changing marketplace.
"Customers are demanding change to happen at a rapid speed," she says. "Consulting firms need to adapt to the demand for such rapid change."
To answer these demands, Sarcom/Frontway has created what Daugherty calls a "custom engagement model" to custom design the process of dealing with each individual client. Under the model, employees are empowered to solve customer problems and handle issues immediately that under other circumstances could have taken longer to address. Satisfying customers at the point of contact helps develop a more loyal client base, Daugherty says.
This is Sarcom/Frontway's second year of involvement with the Innovation for Business Conference, and Daugherty says the company got involved because "it's a good way to help support the Cleveland community."
Matt Wajda, ICG director of sales, says innovation is a must.
"As a provider of business communication, ICG recognizes the need to continually innovate in order to meet customer demand and remain a leader in a very competitive industry," he says.
According to Wajda, customers constantly develop new ideas for how they buy and sell products and services.
"Our customers are innovative, and therefore, we must be as well," he says.
In the telecommunications industry, the "two Cs" drive innovation: competition and customers. Says Wajda, "To maintain and grow its customer base, a company must stay in touch with not only its customers' needs but predict and address future needs as well."
This is ICG's second year of involvement in the conference.
According to Kevin Kolman, CEO of Product Imagineers, businesses are responsible for reinventing ideas to stay ahead in today's competitive market.
"Ideas are tomorrow's hot ticket items," says Kolman. "Innovation means trusting in oneself for others to follow."
As a creator of promotional marketing solutions, Product Imagineers puts emphasis on the customer's needs.
"Being able to focus on customers with new product campaigns to help get their name in the lights is critical," says Kolman. "We strive to create unique and innovative marketing programs that help focus on the positive."
Because competition and innovation go hand in hand, Kolman notes that being innovative is "like being tapped into the biggest universal search engine there is."
Product Imagineers is in its second year of involvement in the conference, and supplies the awards to conference honorees.
In the pharmaceutical industry, staying one step ahead of your competitors is not only the key to success, but the key to long-term survival. Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical manufacturer, takes innovation as seriously as the next guy.
"Innovation is the key to improving health, and advances in research technologies and genomics," says Celeste Torello, manager of pharmaceutical communications for Pfizer.
Forward thinking aids Pfizer because it aids consumers -- those who benefit directly from medical advancements and who drive business and competition.
Innovation leads to "increasingly empowered consumers, new tools to help us work smarter," says Torello. "All signs point to a new era of opportunity in health and well-being."
For most of the 20th century, the telephone industry was dominated by one company, the Bell System, also known as AT&T.
Designated as a natural monopoly by the federal government, Ma Bell enjoyed control over local and long distance telephone operations, as well as the manufacture and sale of all telephone-related equipment and technology. Naturally, the company thrived without even the threat of competition from outside sources.
But the Golden Era ended for the Bell System in 1982, when the Department of Justice decided to break up the monopoly by filing an antitrust lawsuit against the telecommunications giant. The resulting settlement saw the divestiture of the Bell System into a long distance entity (AT&T) and seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) which served the local market.
Judge Harold Green split the country into 160 local access and transport areas and decreed that local companies could not provide long distance services and long distance companies could not provide local services. While the settlement opened up competition in the long distance market, it allowed the RBOCs to maintain monopolies in their local markets.
It wasn't until the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that the Baby Bell companies lost their monopolies over local services. The law not only enabled long distance providers to enter the local market (and vice versa), but also struck down barriers that had previously kept new companies from entering the RBOCs' territory. The newcomers, called Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) have helped create, for the first time, a free and open local telecommunications market, driving the development of new technology and services and giving local customers a choice.
But how do customers choose between a continually growing number of local telephone service providers? Today, consumers rely on local networks not only for making local voice calls but also for a vast array of data exchange needs, such as Internet access, faxing, local area networks and more. Speed, capacity and reliability are of particular importance to businesses, and thus among the key marketing points stressed by local providers.
Other factors that differentiate competition include:
B>Technology. Fiber optic networks are by far superior to the old, copper wire telecommunications systems they are rapidly replacing. Local dial tone companies which utilize fiber optics can provide greater clarity, capacity and speed than their copper-bound competitors and are better able to expand with the growing telecommunications needs of their customers. Consumers will also experience less signal interference or loss and fewer transmission errors on fiber optic networks, enabling business to continue as usual, without interruption.
B>Customer service. When there is a problem with the phone lines or just questions that need quick answers, customers need to know they can depend on the accessibility and responsiveness of their local provider.
Calling features. To meet the needs of growing businesses and organizations -- and even busy residences -- phone companies offer a vast array of calling features, including call waiting, call forwarding, voice mail, caller ID, repeat dialing, conference calling, automatic callback and speed dialing.
Convenience. Telephone companies that can provide both local and long distance services, as well as advanced data services or access needs a business or organization may require, promote the convenience of having all your telecommunication needs met by a single provider. One company to deal with, one bill to pay.
Cost. The best result of the competition spurred by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been the reduction in price of local phone services. By bundling local with long distance and advanced data services, some phone companies are able to offer consumers lower-than-average costs to fill all their telecommunications needs. Or, consumers can buy certain pieces here and certain pieces there, allowing them to shop around for the price and service options that best meet their individual needs. Source:Adelphia Business Solutions
Gonzalez Funeral Home has opened, offering Hispanic families in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties care designed specifically for their culture. The home is located at 4334 Pearl Road.
Gateway Title Agency received the EDI 2000 Innovation Award at a dinner given by Enterprise Development Inc.
In a Bind Bookstore has opened at 13347 Madison Ave. in Lakewood.
The Cleveland Neighborhood Development Corp. has awarded Thermagon Inc. the George S. Dively Award for Leadership in Neighborhood Development.
Hilty Moore & Associates will direct a marketing strategy campaign for Graphic Laminating Inc.
Lyons Insurance Group has announced the acquisition of the property and casualty insurance business of Phoenix Circle Insurance Agency Inc.
Grant Thornton LLP has relocated to The Halle Building, Suite 800, 1228 Euclid Ave.
KeyCorp and its online banking Web site, Key.com, ranked among the top five financial services companies doing business on the Internet, according to a survey conducted by Speer & Associates Inc., based in Atlanta.
Cuyahoga Community College received a Commitment to Excellence award from the Ohio Award of Excellence Inc.
Ira Thomas Associates Inc. and Marcus Advertising have merged to form Marcus Thomas LLC.
The Nock Refractories Co. has announced new cast refractory shapes that can be custom-made for a variety of applications.
Garick Division of Fairmount Minerals will test eWinWin's Demand Aggregation Software.
Medical Mutual of Ohio has unveiled a new Internet-based application that allows hospitals to submit patient information and receive authorization electronically.
The James J. Roop Co. won a Bronze Anvil Certificate of Commendation from the Public Relations Society of America and three Vision Awards from the Cleveland Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
The Ohio Award for Excellence Inc. has named Applewood Centers Inc. a Tier 3 winner of Achievement in Excellence for 1999-2000.
HTG Thermal Treatment Center, a HI TecMetal Group facility, maintained QS-9000 registration by NSF International.
The Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland has been honored with Successful Meetings magazine's Pinnacle Award for outstanding meeting destination support.
Nagy Service Co. now offers "Nagy Total Plumbing Service," on-call plumbing services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mark Freeman Associates garnered six Tower Awards in the recent Business Marketing Association competition.
Duke-Weeks Realty Corp. has announced three lease agreements, along with plans to develop a 162,000-square-foot industrial building at its Park 82 business park.
Manpower Inc. has relocated to a new office at 20220 Center Ridge Road in Rocky River.
Western Reserve Internet Services Inc. has relocated to 23550 Commerce Park in Beachwood.
Market.al has acquired Wireless Internet Solutions Providers Inc. as a client.
The Rogers Co. will develop a display for the International Mass Retailers Association show in Nashville, Tenn.
BeanDance.com has unveiled the comprehensive "e-Learning Information Center."
The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced six new online courses to help small businesses enter or expand into the e-commerce market.
Today's Business Products Inc. has announced a plan to open its 40,000-square-foot corporate headquarters at 12985 Snow Road this fall.
Ohio EPA has launched a new online system to enable citizens and businesses to find information about permit applications under review for sources of air pollution at www.epa.state.oh.us/dapc/pti/ptimain.html.
The Gordian Organization has formed an alliance with Key Consulting.
Ampersand International Inc. has joined the partner program of Dialogic, an Intel company.
St. Ives Cleveland is the first commercial printer in Ohio to achieve ISO 9002 registration.
Medical Mutual of Ohio Charitable Foundation has donated a total of $50,543 to be divided between the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association Inc. and the Kidney Foundation of Ohio Inc.
Expert System Applications Inc. has created the Practice Partner Clinical Benchmarking service, which provides quality-of-care indicators for individual physicians and group practices benchmarked against a national database.
Unicorn Corp. has acquired Reliance Mechanical Corp.
HyperText Communication Inc. has become Dataworx Technologies, now offering networking, cabling, help desk support, enterprise and PC hardware solutions, and Web site design and development.
"Woody Guthrie -- Hard Travelin'," a radio documentary produced by WCPN 90.3 and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a Gabriel Award.
Media II has acquired WeldersMall.com as a client.
This site is full of information for entrepreneurs, with feature articles, links to other sites and a free e-mail newsletter. The Biz Info Center helps you find people and businesses, office equipment, aids with making travel plans and offers tips on locating top-notch employees.
This is AT&T's online guide to telecommuting. It includes an introduction to telecommuting and sections for companies, managers and employees. The section for companies has sample teleworker agreements and a description of how to put together a pilot program.
The site has a library of articles about telecommuting that cover topics from how to design the home office to types of Internet connections. It also offers examples of how AT&T telecommuting projects work and a calculator to figure out how much air pollution can be eliminated by telecommuting.
Claritas is a provider of marketing information and solutions to companies in the media, telecommunications, retail, financial services, restaurant and automotive industries. While most of the information is geared toward selling Claritas services, the site also includes a feature that allows the user to analyze individual ZIP codes for demographic characteristics.
Built with 1990 U.S. Census data, current-year demographics and data from millions of consumer purchase records, the PRIZM ZIP Code Look-up Program contains 62 clusters across 15 social groups -- from the affluent executives of "Blue Blood Estates" to the remote rural families of "Blue Highways." Each query reveals the top five groups within a ZIP code.
Despite its name, www.dismal.com is an engaging site that provides a wide variety of economic information and insight. It includes articles that cite slowing recreational vehicle sales as a harbinger of a slowing of the economy and articles that warn political leaders of the need to counter antitrade tendencies.
It offers a bevy of calculators that measure everything from capital equipment costs to future inflation. Get GDPs for the major economies or detailed economic information for individual states and metropolitan statistical areas. You'll also find a glossary of economic terms and up-to-date key economic indicators, such as consumer confidence, employment cost index and factory orders.
China and the other Pacific Rim countries receive a lot of attention as markets ripe for U.S. companies' products, services and technology, but you may want to consider another region that offers excellent opportunities for entrepreneurs in the States. And it's a lot closer to home.
That's why the World Trade Center Pittsburgh is sponsoring a trade mission to Argentina, Brazil and Chile from Nov. 26 to Dec. 6.
Latin America has the highest Internet growth, according to Jupiter Communications, with deregulation of state-owned operations creating numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs. The number of Internet users is expected to grow about fourfold by 2003.
The electric industry also offers considerable opportunities, with demand for energy driving the demand for upgrades in generation, transmission and distribution facilities. Other hot markets are medical and environmental products and services.
The participation fee is $1,500 for the three countries.
If that's not enough to get your attention, while it will be fall and winter in Pittsburgh, it will be late spring and early summer there. How to Reach: World Trade Center Pittsburgh, www.wtcpa.org or (412) 227-3189
Stuck in Pittsburgh International at 3 a.m. with nothing to read? No problem.
Airport Airmall retailer WHSmith has just the ticket: a book vending machine.
Book.machine, a bank of vending machines on the outside of the WHSmith store, dispenses bestsellers like candy bars. The store offers touch screens inside as well that provide business and travel information, travel reservations, maps and directional information, and e-mail access.
Not to be outdone, Staples has opened its fourth location in the airport, offering traditional retail, a kiosk linked to Staples.com and direct phone lines. The hot items are hand-held organizers, built-to-order computers and precharged phone replacement batteries.
Not nearly as high-tech but offering products that can be just as high-priority, the Bath and Body Works has opened in the center core of the AirMall to offer travelers last-minute access to soaps and lotions in travel or full-size packages.
If you don't think that classic car you've had your eye on for years can be a legitimate business expense, Ronald Wesley is out to prove you wrong.
Wesley, who owns Select Leasing in Hudson, just arranged a lease for a local business owner who had been searching for the perfect 1967 Corvette. After Wesley located the car, he leased it to the business owner, who now writes the car off as a business marketing expense.
The catch? He drives it for business purposes, and included a picture of it on his business card to help promote his company as a "classic business."
Wesley says the leases he arranges are designed so that the lessee can write off up to 100 percent of the use of the auto. He says that 80 percent of his customers are business owners who are looking for cars for themselves and fleets for their companies.
For companies, leasing makes more sense than purchasing, he says. For one, there's no recordkeeping for the IRS: If you use the car 80 percent of the time for business, you can write off 80 percent of your monthly payment.
He says that's why larger companies like Kinkos and IBM, for instance, lease their fleets. Wesley should know: He's not only a car enthusiast, he's also an accountant.
"You don't have to prove depreciation, as with a purchase," he says. "You have an instrument that shows exactly what your depreciation is. And you don't have to monitor fleet usage."
In addition, you don't have to tie up capital on the front end, because you're paying as you go, only for what you use. With the average cost of a new car today at $21,000, companies that need fleets of 20 or 40 cars can be looking at a huge up-front expense.
Wesley says that 79 percent of all cars costing more than $28,000 are leased. This year, Mercedes-Benz is leasing 88 percent of its cars; Cadillac is leasing 96 percent.
But even with the growing popularity of leasing, Wesley cautions against getting trapped into a vehicle you really can't afford.
"Everybody's using it as a catch-all, low payments to get people in. But that's not what it's all about," he says.
He advises that before you negotiate a lease, you should know how much you'll be driving and the amount of wear and tear you normally put on your vehicles. He says the ideal lease arrangement has no down payment and no end-of-lease charges, so the lessee is literally paying month by month for exactly what he or she is using.
But if you find you can't afford the payments on your dream car, there's still hope, he says. Try looking into a lease on a used vehicle. Wesley says he recently arranged leases on several year-old Cadillacs for one company, at about $250 less than the monthly cost of leasing a new Cadillac.
That's because most cars depreciate about 25 percent in the first year, and another 15 percent in the second, he says.
"Some cars, after two or three years, almost don't depreciate," he adds.
"As an independent leasing company, my interest is in assuring that my customers are driving the car they want or need at a price they can afford with the service they deserve," he says. "Obviously, a satisfied customer continues to lease and is the single greatest source of new business.
"Customer referrals account for nearly 75 percent of all of our business." How to reach: Select Leasing (330) 650-9900
Canton-based Innis Maggiore Group has acquired HUB Communications, an agency in Uniontown. HUB's founder, Linda Hubbard, will be an account supervisor in IMG's public relations group. IMG has also hired Megan Hartong as account coordinator.
The Canton office of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs has merged with law firm Richard J. Lolli Co. Richard Lolli will join the firm as a shareholder in the Business and Real Estate and Construction Practice Groups.
Robert J. Blackburn has been promoted to senior vice president, information systems, of United National Bank & Trust Co. in Canton.
Hall, Kistler & Co. of Canton has promoted John J. Skakun to manager, Karen M. Moss to supervisor and Scott E. Bonvechio to senior accountant.
The American Door Co. of Canton has been purchased by Zen Industries of Cleveland.
The employees of Schumacher Homes Inc., Canton, are building a home for Habitat for Humanity this month. They hope to dedicate the home Oct. 6.