September 16, 2014

Tips and trends: Advice for small businesses in Florida

From social media to hiring and cloud computing, some pointers for business owners.

Cynthia Barnett | 2/2/2012

Credit Unions vs. Banks
Lending Limits

James Wilcox
Professor James Wilcox found credit unions stepped up their small-business lending during the recession.
Credit union loans to small companies — defined as business loans of less than $1 million — rose substantially over the past decade, providing extra lending in response to tightening by banks, even during the financial crisis. James Wilcox, professor of financial institutions at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, found that small-business loans rose relative to total loans and assets at credit unions, relative to small-business loans at community banks, and relative to small-business loans at all banks.

Wilcox says credit unions have still greater capacity to speed up the nation's economic recovery and that their operations would strengthen if they could expand small-business lending. Credit unions can lend only 12.25% of total assets to businesses. Small-business and credit union advocates are pushing Congress this year to pass the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, which would increase that to 27.5%.

The American Bankers Association is fighting the legislation on grounds that credit unions already have an unfair tax advantage over banks. ABA Chairman-elect Albert C. Kelly Jr. testified in October that the result would not be an overall increase in lending, but a shift in business loans from taxable financial institutions to credit unions.

The bills to watch are Senate Bill 509 and House Bill 1418.

Government Work
Bid Protests

Kevin Fowler
Kevin Fowler, a partner at Foley & Lardner in Orlando who practices construction law and business-dispute resolution, says the economic downturn has led more small businesses to seek government work. One consequence: More protests after bids are awarded.

With or without an attorney, Fowler says, firms considering a protest must analyze their position and prepare documents quickly: Often, bid protests must be filed within a few days of the notice of the award, and firms must follow the agency's protest procedures strictly.

Fowler's list of the documents needed:

» Solicitation documents issued by the agency

» Responses to the solicitation submitted by you and the other bidders

» The bid tabulation

» Minutes or transcripts of any prebid meetings

» Minutes or transcripts of any evaluators' meetings

» Any letters, e-mails and other communications to or from the agency

» Bid protest procedures and deadlines

» An outline of your own analysis of why your protest has merit

Tags: Florida Small Business

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