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Holiday Season Preparations for Small Business Owners in the US


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The holidays are approaching; is your small business ready for the Christmas season? As a business owner, you have much to consider during the holiday season. For some businesses, December is time to slow down and wrap up the end of the year; for other companies, the month of December puts the business under very high pressure to meet customer expectations and reach sales goals. Whichever type of business yours is, here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your business for the holiday season.

Start Early

Long before the holiday season begins, you should be thinking of the concrete and specific steps you will need to take to prepare for the holidays. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Will you need to hire more staff for production?
  • More staff for packaging and shipping?
  • Will you need to downsize your staff?
  • Will you need to increase overtime hours?
  • Will you be giving gifts to clients? To employees?
  • Will you be hosting holiday events for clients or employees?

Some of these answers will indicate that your business needs to begin preparing for Christmas as early as June or July, while other answers will have you planning as late as the week of Christmas. Make lists, itemize, step by step, the things you need to do to prepare. A successful holiday season is often reliant on successful planning.



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What Businesses in the UK Need To Know About Preparing For Christmas


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Christmas is a busy time of the year, and particularly so for business owners. This article covers a few important considerations that will help you plan ahead and make this time of the year less stressful and much more enjoyable -just as it should be.

Christmas 2016: Important dates to keep in mind
This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, with the 27th substituting as a Bank holiday. New Years Day falls on a Sunday, with Monday the 2nd of January substituting as the bank holiday.

Other important dates to keep in mind are the Post Office’s recommended last posting dates. Letters and / or packages sent via 1st class mail within the UK should be posted by Wednesday the 21st of December if they are to arrive before Christmas Day. Items send via 2nd class mail should be posted by Tuesday the 20th December. The last posting dates for international mail or packages vary depending on the country of destination. Bear in mind that some destinations have a last posting date as early as 4th December.



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Top Cities to Start a Business: Shreveport, LA


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A number of factors make a location an ideal place for a start-up, including the local cost of living and taxes. Access to resources like financing and talent are also important variables. Shreveport has been recognized as a city with many of these key elements to making a successful start for a new company. In WalletHub’s 2015 ranking of the best and worst places to start a business in the United States, Shreveport came on top (1). In 2016, Shreveport ranked eighteenth in WalletHub’s list of the best large cities to start a business (2). The same study found that Shreveport has the fifth highest rate of growth for small businesses.

Shreveport is Louisiana’s third largest city. The city is a major commercial center in the Ark-La-Tex region where Louisiana meets with Arkansas and Texas. Interstates 20 and 49 link the city to nearby states, while Shreveport Regional Airport offers direct flights to major economic centers in the South including Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. Founded in 1836, Shreveport is home to nearly 200,000 people (3). A major business hub for the oil industry until the 1980s, the city is now home to a strong service-based economy. Major commercial developments include the Louisiana Boardwalk, a large shopping and entertainment complex in neighboring Bossier City. Downtown is the home of the 350,000 square foot Shreveport Convention Center.

Businesses in Shreveport benefit from several tax incentive programs at the local and state level. Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone Program provides tax credits and sales and use tax refunds for businesses hiring from targeted groups, while the local Caddo-Bossier Foreign Trade Zone allows for the import of materials and components without paying duties until they enter the U.S. market. With the Louisiana Quality Jobs Program, an annual rebate is available for up to ten years for employers that meet minimum hourly wage rates and offer a basic health plan. Motion picture and television production companies also benefit from refunds on sales and use taxes.



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Regeneration Projects: Northern Ireland, Wales & Scotland


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Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast are all continuing to see significant investment in regeneration projects. Projects range from the redevelopment of city centre brownfield sites to massive waterfront regeneration projects that will span decades. Thanks to new investments in renewing the urban landscape of these regional economic centres, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from new employment and business opportunities in a number of sectors.

Scotland

Outside of London, Glasgow is the most important financial hub in the United Kingdom. It is also a top shopping destination and has seen an investment of over £6 billion since 2011 in infrastructure, offices, hotels, leisure, education, health, housing and retail according to the Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO). With a gross development value of £2.7 billion, the Clyde Gateway in Glasgow is one of Scotland’s flagship regeneration projects. In addition to adding modern commercial and industrial spaces, the project features new leisure and residential development.



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Regeneration Projects: Southern England


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London is the South of England’s largest and most important economic driver. The international financial hub is also a major European and global business destination. In the coming years, several regeneration projects will continue to reinforce the capital’s position as an economic powerhouse.

New Covent Garden Market

One such project is the New Covent Garden Market. In addition to developing up to 2,800 new homes, the £2 billion project will redevelop an estimated 115,000 square feet of commercial space. Construction on New Covent Garden began in 1971 and it opened in 1974 as the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK. Forty years later, the site is now being developed to provide a better experience for businesses and visitors. Once complete, the redeveloped New Covent Garden Market will serve as a gateway to Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea and the project will help transform the area as an exciting place to do business and live. Nearby developments include the new Embassy of the United States and the redevelopment of Battersea Power Generation. For more information go to brand.newcoventgardenmarket.com.

Silvertown

In East London, the Silvertown regeneration project at the Royal Docks area has the potential to add more than four million square feet of commercial spaces. The site could also see the addition of almost 3,000 new homes. Silverton is planned as a multi-phase project and the 25-hectare (62-acre) site has the potential development cost of £3.5 billion. It is already connected to leading commercial developments such as London City Airport and the Excel Centre and will be a five minute walk from the Custom House Crossrail station, which is scheduled to open in 2018. Silvertown includes Millennium Mills, a new home for 150 innovative businesses with flexible workspaces. For more information go to www.silvertownlondon.com.



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Top Cities to Start a Business: Tulsa, Oklahoma


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For much of the twentieth century, Tulsa was known as the Oil Capital of the World. The city played an important role in the American oil industry until the decline of the industry led to a more diversified economy. Today, Tulsa’s economy is based on a number of sectors including energy, finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology. The city sits on the banks of the Arkansas River in the Green Country region at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. A major regional hub for art and culture, Tulsa is home to 403,505 people and is the second largest city in Oklahoma.

When looking at good locations to start a business, a number of factors come into play. These include access to resources such as financing and talent. Other factors include labor costs, standard of living, and affordability of office spaces. Tulsa benefits from many of these factors, making it one of the best places to do business in the country. In 2016, Tulsa ranked ninth in WalletHub’s annual ranking of the best large cities to start a business in the United States. The same study ranked the city fourth in terms of business costs, recognizing the city’s relatively low start-up, operating and labor costs. The city was also ranked among the top 50 cities by BusinessWeek in 2012.

Business and Infrastructure in Tulsa

Tulsa benefits from excellent infrastructure that supports new and established businesses alike. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa sits at the head of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. It is the most inland river port in the United States and provides access to international waterways, making it a vital connection to global markets. Tulsa International Airport also connects the area with major markets across the U.S., including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston and other cities. Tulsa is also home to the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University, two top colleges that offer businesses a strong skilled talent and other resources. Approximately 67,540 college students live within 50 miles of Tulsa, which also has branches of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.



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Regeneration Projects: Northern England


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Northern England’s economy has been transforming from its industrial roots to a more diversified business base. To attract investment and revitalise the region, several development projects are helping to add office space while renewing lands once used by industry for manufacturing and other activities.

Liverpool Waters

Liverpool Waters is a 30-year regeneration project that will transform the city’s northern docks and include infrastructure improvements. It is within the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone, which also includes the peel International Trade Centre and the Wirral Waters redevelopment project. As part of the zone, businesses locating on the sprawling Liverpool Waters site will benefit from potential business rate discounts for five years. The new quarter in central Liverpool is also part of the £75-billion Atlantic Gateway, a massive project will create a 40-mile strategic corridor from the Port of Liverpool to Manchester.

Once completed in 2024-25, Liverpool Waters will create up to 7,500 temporary jobs and an estimated 33,000 permanent jobs according to the UK government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO). With a value estimated at £5.5 billion, the site covers an area of 60 hectares and will feature a blend of commercial, hotel, leisure and mixed use spaces as well as residential development. The large scale project’s master plan calls for more than 3.4 million square feet of business space spread across 88 plots. Buildings will range from 21,500 square feet and allow for bespoke designs. The site will complement development at Princes Dock, which already offers more than 225,000 square feet of office space.

The Northgate Scheme

The Northgate Scheme in nearby Chester is another mixed use development project that will bring new commercial space to the region. The development is part of Chester’s One City Plan, a development strategy that sets out a long-term vision for the city. With a gross development value of more than £350 million, the project will play an important role in driving the city’s revitalisation efforts. It will also help boost the local economy thanks to new flexible retail units that will help attract new businesses to Chester. The Northgate Scheme will complement other improvements to the city’s infrastructure, including the development of a new Central Business Quarter adjacent to Chester’s rail station. Northgate will be an important new base for businesses in retail and commercial sectors. Plans call for an anchor department store and five major store units. The site will also accommodate up to 50 shop units and 20 food and beverage units once it is complete in 2019-20. Plans also include the construction of the new Chester Market Hall, a multiplex cinema, and a cultural centre with an 800-seat theatre, studio spaces, conference facilities and a library. Just steps from Chester Cathedral and Abbey Square, Northgate will also incorporate the Chester’s Town Hall and includes the existing Crowne Plaza hotel.

Media City UK

In Manchester, Media City UK will develop Salford Quays on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal. The 200-acre development has already seen more than £650 million in development over 36 acres. The second phase of the project will see an addition 110 acres developed, including an estimated 2.3 million square feet of office space. There will also be new residential units, a hotel, up to 87,000 square feet in retail space, and 27,000 square feet in leisure space. In total, four phases of development will span over 20 years.



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Top Cities to Start a Business: Springfield, Missouri


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Founded in 1833, Springfield is home to more than 166,810 people. Along with nearby Branson, the surrounding metropolitan area has a population of nearly half a million. Known as the Queen City of the Ozarks, Springfield is Missouri’s third largest city and is a thriving regional economic hub. It ranks consistently as one of the top places to start a new business. A study ranking the U.S. cities by WalletHub in 2016 ranked Springfield as the eighth best city to start a business in the country, down slightly from its third place finish in 2015.

A number of factors contribute to making a city a great place to start a business. Variables range from affordable commercial properties and cost of living to easy access to resources like skills and financing. In terms of the cost of doing business, Springfield came on top in WalletHub’s 2016 ranking. Several state and city incentives also help new businesses in Springfield grow and succeed, including the City of Springfield’s Small Business Loan Program. The programme provides financing for business to buy and redevelop commercial properties. Loans also help businesses obtain working capital, inventory and equipment.

Businesses in Springfield benefit from easy access to essential resources needed to start a successful company, including skills, mentoring and financing. The city has a large talent pool thanks to three local universities – Missouri State University, Drury University and Evangel University. Universities offer new businesses a range of services and supports, including a seed capital fund and accelerator program based at Missouri State University’s eFactory. Drury University’s Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship also provides training for new entrepreneurs, while the Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups program offers start-ups opportunities to share their ideas with mentors and advisors



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What UK Government Grants are Available to New Businesses?


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Government Start Up Grants

Government-funded start up grants are available to prospective business owners who are ordinarily resident in the UK. The levels of funding available vary, but often start at £4,000. Below is an overview of the main grant schemes available.

The Start Up Loans scheme

The Start Up Loans scheme is available to all UK residents aged 18 and above who require funding to set up a business. This is one of the most popular grant schemes available to UK-based entrepreneurs, and in 2015 alone it helped fund more than 13,000 companies. The scheme is administered by the Start Up Loans Company, although this is a government-backed programme that also receives support from The Business Bank. Funds are provided through unsecured loans, which have a maximum repayment term of 5 years. Loans cannot exceed £25,000 and interest rates are fixed at 6 per cent.

In addition to funding, the Start Up Loans scheme offers a support package that includes mentoring and a range of discounted business products, such as reduced PayPal rates, free website hosting, free business banking, free access to accounting software, and more. You can learn more about all the benefits available here.

Once the application is sent, prospective business owners will be matched to a delivery partner / business advisor, whose role is to offer support and advice when creating a business plan. This document will then be used by the Start Up Loans Company to evaluate whether funding will be granted or not. For detailed information, please visit the Start Up Loans scheme (www.startuploans.co.uk)



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Bizwiki.com Announces Major Expansion across the USA


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Bizwiki, publishers of the popular national free business-listing website, are pleased to announce that the Bizwiki.com site is undergoing a major expansion.

While demonstrating the site, Bizwiki director Matt Aird said, “For the last few months we have been working on a major expansion of the content on the website. Combining submissions from our users with data collected by our webspider, we are now able to offer visitors more information about businesses and companies in the US than ever.”

The expanded Bizwiki.com website has broadened the content available to users to include enhanced information regarding over one million new businesses, and organized them into easily accessible categories.

Information about companies includes user-edited content, maps and directions, vital contact and address information, messages from the individual companies, text from site’s websites, important links, competitor links and online contact details, all provided free of charge to the site’s visitors in a new streamlined front-end design



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