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2019-08-22 00:32:47

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2019-08-22 02:15:00

If you have employees, keep reading to see if you need key person insurance.

This coverage is also known as key-man insurance. It’s not required, and often it’s not necessary. But when it is needed, it could save your business from bankruptcy.

What is key person insurance?

When we say “key person insurance” we are usually referring to a life insurance policy on a key employee. However, it can also refer to a disability policy.

In this column, I’ll talk about life insurance.

Key person insurance protects a business from financial loss in the event of the death of an employee who is critical to the economic survival of the company.

It’s probably best to explain it with a story.

Our fictional character this week is truly unique. Alligator Al wrestled alligators for a living. And he wrestled them with flair and comedy. He performed at Reptile Heaven; a well-known tourist stop.

Even though tourists strolled through the rest of the zoo to look at all of the exotic reptiles, it was Alligator Al’s show that brought them in. He was the main attraction.

But Al liked to take big risks. One day, Al bit off more than he could chew. And the alligator responded by also taking a big bite. It was grizzly, so I’ll spare you the details. But sadly, Al died.

After an appropriate time of grieving, business owner Bob was faced with a stark reality; he had to find another alligator wrestler. And it couldn’t just be any old alligator wrestler; it had to be one as exciting as Alligator Al. It was going to take a year or longer to find Al’s replacement.

Al was a key employee, and Bob had not made plans in case of Al’s death.

Business owner Bob went out of business before he found a new alligator wrestler.

What can we learn from this?

First, don’t wrestle alligators. It’s really dangerous (and probably uninsurable, but that’s another discussion).

Second, think about your business. Pause, and take a moment right now to think about your employees. Is there one person who is almost irreplaceable? Of course, everyone can be replaced… eventually.

But what’s the time factor in replacing say, a superstar salesperson who has the hearts of long-time customers?

If she or he dies, how many customers will drift away while you take months to find the right person to replace them? What is the impact to your small business in those months?

How does key person life insurance work?

The simple explanation: the company takes out a life insurance policy on a key employee.

The company owns the policy, and pays the premiums, usually with after-tax dollars. Then, the company is the beneficiary if the employee dies.

The company has what we call “an insurable interest” in the key employee. They are protecting a valuable asset, without which, they would suffer some financial loss.

You may need this coverage and not have it.

According to a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, more than 70 percent of businesses said that their success was linked to one or two key employees.

But only 22 percent had key person life insurance on those employees.

If you have employees, call your local business insurance agent, and discuss key person life insurance.

If you don’t have a trusted agent, I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Call or email me today.

Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or

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2019-08-22 02:26:15

Most people’s perception of a hacker is a kid in his parents’ basement surrounded by Twinkies, said Larry Brusso, a security expert for D.E. Web Works.

“We have large, syndicated crime networks,” Brusso said. “The bad guys out-technology us and they recruit from MIT and Brown (University).”

To learn about how they can protect their online assets from being compromised, several area business owners and administrators gathered at a UHV lecture hall Wednesday morning to hear from Brusso and David Arnold, owner of D.E. Web Works.

Arnold’s Victoria-based company provides design, information technology and web hosting services for clients.

The event where the presented, PYS: Protect Your $#!”|”, was the first such event by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce focused on cyber security.

Arnold said it was designed to help people with small businesses who don’t have the resources to invest in expensive security technologies or an in-house IT professional.

Roslyn Faust, who works for BeneficialHR, said she attended the event because her small business can’t afford expensive internet security technologies.

“There’s a lot of products out there,” Faust said.

Arnold said internet security for small businesses doesn’t have to break the bank. He compared it to taking preventative measures in car maintenance.

“I help my mechanic by doing the things that should be done,” Arnold said.

Even if a business doesn’t deal with private information like medical records and billing information, Arnold said lack of security can interfere with productivity.

For example, Arnold said, a ransomware attack that hit Jackson County in May shut down the county’s online presence for weeks. In addition to loss of records, cyber attacks can lead to potentially costly downtime if internet or email access is compromised.

Because the technologies used by hackers are advanced and rapidly changing, Brusso said there is no surefire way to prevent hackers from gaining access to online assets.

“There’s no silver bullet,” Brusso said. “The threat that’s out there is a lot more verbose and way more complex than it’s ever been in history.”

After her county was subject to a ransomware attach, Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar said she invested in online security measures to prevent future attacks. She said such measures helped prevent the county from being wrapped up in the connected ransomware attacks that hit more than 20 local governments on Friday.

For business owners seeking internet security, Arnold prescribed using enterprise-level antivirus solutions, being cautious of phishing scams and frequently changing secure passwords.

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2019-08-22 09:56:15

The Bolsonaro administration is focused on mining, logging, and farming. But for the Baniwa women, the income they’ve earned from the Jiquitaia chili peppers they cultivate has made all the difference.

“With the income that comes in from the sale of the peppers, the women are, of course, benefited directly, and others in the surrounding communities are also benefited indirectly,” said André Baniwa, a Baniwa leader who also works with the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), an NGO in support of indigenous rights that helped the Baniwa women and several other indigenous groups get their sustainable economic projects off the ground, and supports a community tourism program run by indigenous groups in the wider Rio Negro region. “Goods that the women are able to buy with that income are also traded with those who don’t have that type of income in their own communities. It ends up helping all the Baniwa people, no matter which community they live in.”

Indigenous and traditional peoples in the Amazon are also supported by organizations like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a U.S.-based NGO that works in environmental preservation and human rights. It offers small grants of $5,000 to $10,000 as a part of its Protect-an-Acre program, which funds projects headed by indigenous and traditional peoples that are meant to keep rainforests like the Amazon standing.

The program depends on donations to be able to help grantees like the Munduruku people, who are trying to monitor the last large area of un-demarcated territory (i.e. longtime living area for which the government has not yet formally given them titles to) they have in the Tapajós Basin, which is threatened by plans to build three major dams. RAN believes that strengthening indigenous land rights will lead to better managed forests—a position echoed in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in August.

“We know that protecting tropical rainforests is one of the most important ways to mitigate the global impacts of climate change,” Ginger Cassady, RAN’s forest program director, told me. “What happens in the Amazon is affecting us all over the world. It’s a global emergency.”

Another initiative involves reforestation combined with shade-grown coffee farms as a profitable and sustainable way for small-scale Amazonian farmers to work the land. Café em Agrofloresta, a project run by the Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development (IDESAM), produces the only sustainably shade-grown coffee in the Amazon. Sold across Brazil, Café Apuí Agroflorestal, named for the municipality where the project is run, is getting ready to send its first shipment of coffee to the Netherlands.

Of the 30 farmers it works with, 18 are already certified organic and twelve are awaiting certification. At first, Mariano Cenamo, a senior researcher and director of business development at IDESAM, told me, it was difficult to convince them that planting more trees would be beneficial to growing crops. But coffee is a species that naturally grows in the shade, and the nutrients the shade-giving trees provide to the soil keep soil-amending costs down. It’s worked so well that there’s now a waiting list to participate in Café em Agrofloresta. Last year alone they sold 300 bags at 300 reais each (roughly $75 at the current exchange rate). IDESAM hopes to expand the reach of the project soon.

These kinds of initiatives have special significance at a time when the international community seems to feel increasingly helpless in the face of growing deforestation. American foreign policy experts have wondered whether Brazil could be intimidated into preserving the Amazon or even invaded—a problematic proposal, given its whiff of Brazil’s colonial past, and the Brazilian military’s subsequent sensitivity on the subject of sovereignty. Shade-grown coffee and chili powder aren’t what Bolsonaro means when he insists on the importance of extracting wealth from the rainforest. But the potential in these initiatives, those working on them say, is to offer an alternative, more sustainable route to commercialization—one benefiting vulnerable populations instead of displacing them. “Whenever we buy a product like Café Apuí Agroflorestal,” Cenamo told me, “when we prioritize any product that was produced sustainably in the Amazon, we’re giving value to what the forest gives us and we’re giving back by protecting the forest itself and the people who live in it.”

For the international community, giving back might mean taking a back seat to those who live and know the Amazon, exchanging international conservation’s traditionally top-down focus for initiatives focused on sustainable small businesses. Supporting local people and projects could be far more productive for preserving the rainforest than any attempt to take it over.

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2019-08-22 04:18:45

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Chamber of Commerce hosts a Small Business Expo from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today on the corner of Third Street and Texas


There will be 35 vendor booths, food trucks, police and fire vehicles for kids to see, a “Chill Out Zone” and a bounce house. The Chill Out Zone will have fans and free water.

“Our goal for the Small Business Expo is to connect businesses with each other and the community in a fun environment,” said Mike Malone, Chamber of Commerce


“The main focus of the chamber is to be a driver of growth, a trusted source and a place to network,” continued Malone. “Without our small and medium-sized businesses, our community is not the same. We have to support each other and the Small Business Expo is the perfect place to do


Everyone is welcome to join the fun at the Small Business Expo.

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2019-08-22 02:37:30

The application window for Niagara Falls’ second round of federally funded small business grants has opened, Community Development Director Seth A. Piccirillo announced this week.

Applications to the Small Business Support Fund are due by Sept. 17. The grants cover up to 50% of the cost of a project.

Interior and exterior renovations are the favored types of projects, according to the fund’s website, where the initial letter of intent may be submitted.

The first round of awards in March included $75,000 to DiCamillo Bakery for expansion of its Linwood Avenue headquarters; $50,000 to Garibaldi Square, on Pine Avenue, to create leasable commercial space; and $30,000 to LoxStock & Barrel Saloon, on Niagara Street, for a new kitchen and interior remodeling.

Most of the city is eligible, except for the downtown core.

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2019-08-21 21:27:05

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2019-08-22 00:03:49

6 Alternative Lending Options for Small-Business Owners

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No two businesses are exactly the same, and yet there are a few things that every business needs in order to function. At the top of the list is capital. Sooner or later, most companies need access to financing so they can buy equipment, acquire new office space or make some other important capital investment.

But where will that financing come from? Traditionally, the options have been fairly limited to banks and credit unions. Today, however, business owners have a number of options to choose from, including those traditional lending sources but also several alternatives.

What if a traditional lender won’t work with you?

Some small businesses may have little choice about the kind of financing they seek, specifically if traditional lenders all turn them down.

Most banks and credit unions are going to be fairly risk-averse, as they don’t want to work with any small business that hasn’t proven itself at least somewhat dependable. As such, traditional lenders will usually require business owners to have a strong credit history and perhaps some collateral they can put up as well. If your company is just starting out, it can be challenging to meet these requirements, and you may be approved for little or no financing.

Alternative lenders, meanwhile, are usually a little more willing to assume some of the risk. Many have loan options specifically geared toward businesses that have truncated (or subpar) credit histories. The long and short of it is: If you have bad credit, you can still get a business loan, but not necessarily through a traditional lender.

A related issue is turnaround time. Because traditional lenders do a lot of due diligence, it can take weeks or even months for a loan to be approved. Alternative lenders can often be a little nimbler, sometimes approving a loan in 24 to 48 hours. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need a loan quickly, this is an important factor to weigh.

Alternative business loans to consider

As for where you seek an alternative loan, there are a number of options out there.

  1. Line of credit (LOC). You can get this from a traditional bank, but you may have better luck being approved for an online LOC. OnDeck Capital’s “instant funding” option is one resource worth checking out. Credibly is also a platform for merchants who don’t qualify for OnDeck’s products.
  2. Online loans. A website called Lendio has a number of online loans for which small-business owners can apply, and the eligibility requirements are a little laxer than what you’d find at a credit union.
  3. Short-term loans. LoanBuilder, which is affiliated with PayPal, provides short-term small-business loans in as little as 24 hours’ time. Additionally, PayPal offers another funding option through its Working Capital platform, which allows a borrower an advance against their future PayPal invoices.
  4. Personal loans. If you have decent credit and want to explore personal loan opportunities online, LendingClub is one site you’ll want to check out.
  5. Credit card. Of course, a business credit card provides a simple solution to your financing problems. Chase Ink Business Cash is one of several cards that come highly reviewed.
  6. Invoice financing. This is a form of alternate lending that allows a business to borrow amounts equivalent to the value of its outstanding invoices — with the invoices serving as collateral for the loan. MarketInvoice is one platform you may want to learn more about.

Remember, there’s more than one way to acquire funding for your business. If you don’t have any luck with traditional lenders, there’s still a world of alternative possibilities for you to choose from.

About the author: Amanda Clark is president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she’s currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at

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2019-08-21 23:03:45

“I actually like working with them,” she said. “I don’t know if they agree with it, but I like bringing them to work with me because they’re kind of fun.”

It’s still up for debate if they think it’s fun.   

“You know, it’s very labor-intensive but it’s not hard work. So there’s worse things they could be doing,” Wygal joked.

This is Wygal’s fourth harvest. She started Cobblestone Hop Yard in 2015 and now has 14 different hop varieties growing on eight acres.

Being harvested on this day were Centennial hops.

“So that yellow stuff, that’s what the brewers are after…the lupulin,” she said, breaking open one of the cone-shaped hop blooms. “That’s got all the hop oils and flavorings.”

It’s the hops that put the bitterness and aroma in beer. With an exploding local craft beer movement afoot and state incentives for breweries to use local ingredients, these are in high demand.

So, for the next few weeks, Wygal and her children will be working overtime to process this year’s crop.

Once cut, the vines are run through a harvesting machine, which strips the cones from the plants and sorts them. The hops come out on a conveyer and are put into bins to dry. Fans help with the drying process.

“That’ll blow air through them and gently dry them,” she explained. “The only time I use heat is if it’s super high moisture and I have to lower the relative humidity.”

Once dried, the hops will be sent out to be processed. They’ll sell for about $12-14 per pound.

Cobblestone Hop Yard now has about two dozen customers from mostly New York breweries.

The hop vines are rough and can draw blood, but for Wygal, the harvest is her favorite time of year.

“It’s the most exciting part of the work because although it’s a lot of work, it smells great and once it’s done, you know it’s over.”

If you know of a small business we should feature, email us at

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2019-08-22 00:22:30

city council mmv sbs bishop

(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)

When shops and restaurants that you love and depend on close it can be heartbreaking; I know from personal experience. My Upper West Side neighborhood has been seen as the epicenter of what some call a “small business crisis” in New York City, and we have certainly seen our share of lost community icons and long-shuttered storefronts, but a new report shows there is no citywide crisis and lawmakers should be very careful as they consider remedies to what problems do exist.

Earlier this month the New York City Department of City Planning issued a comprehensive, well-designed study of vacancies on commercial business strips in 24 neighborhoods across the city. It shows that retail storefront vacancies are not unusually high in most neighborhoods (the industry standard is 5-10%) and, where they do exist, are due to a number of causes, which differ from place to place and storefront to storefront.

Just last month, a package of bills was adopted by the City Council that will provide even more information about retail vacancies by requiring that landlords report periodically to the Department of Finance on the number and status of their retail spaces.

Yet elected officials continue to refer to a “crisis” of retail vacancies. Just a few days after the City Planning report was released, Council Speaker Corey Johnson bemoaned the “blight” of retail vacancies “all across the city.” 

Examples of long-standing merchants priced out by rising rents are more compelling news stories than data that shows the localized nature of the problem. So, despite the fact there is no citywide crisis and the Council’s new legislation will provide additional data on vacant storefronts, support is strong for a proposal to require sweeping protections for retail tenants to help assure lease renewals, including mandatory 10-year terms and arbitration when landlord and tenant cannot agree on rent increases. The number of Council sponsors of the “Small Business Justice and Stability Act” (SBJSA) has grown to 30 (of 51 members) since a hearing was held on it this past December.

Concern about retail storefront vacancies and turnover in New York City is not new. It has been labeled as a “crisis” as far back as the 1970s and was a focus of intense scrutiny during the Koch administration in the mid-’80s when the mayor responded by forming a commission to study the topic. Then-Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger championed a rent arbitration proposal back then.

Several of my favorite restaurants, diners, and clothing stores on the three blocks of Amsterdam closest to my apartment have closed over the last ten years. There are many vacancies in my neighborhood for a number of reasons.

Some are due to the creation of new, unrented retail space on the ground floor of brand new high-end residential buildings that have sprouted up along the corridors; some are because proprietors decided to retire, or because a new enterprise misjudged how much business it would attract in the area, or because the landlord — sometimes a residential rental or co-op building — is holding out for a chain store type of tenant that can pay a high rent to help offset increasing costs like property taxes. This is all part of life in an upscale neighborhood like the Upper West Side. It may be unsettling and even sad, but it is not a crisis. 

Also, while some of us may miss our favorite places, the new stores and restaurants that replace them are serving the people that live here, albeit in different ways.

An example is a large new restaurant/juice bar that has opened around the corner from my apartment. A beloved diner used to be there, and when the lease was not renewed nine years ago, it remained vacant for more than two years. The two small stores next to it were also vacated, while the rental apartment building owner held out for a larger tenant to take over the entire space. A slick new place arrived that lasted five years but didn’t seem to me to have been able to generate enough business to sustain the large space. (There were protests when the spaces were combined and when the new restaurant opened.) After another six months, Tacombi, which has several other branches in the city, opened. With a menu of reasonably-priced Latin-American food and drinks it appears to be thriving and is filled with neighborhood families.

It is understandable that elected officials feel compelled to “do something” when their constituents feel impacted in such a direct and personal way, which explains why my City Council representative, Helen Rosenthal, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, are two of the most vocal advocates for the SBJSA. But as the City Planning report shows, there is simply no basis for citywide legislation. Time will tell, but I expect that the newly-mandated reports from landlords will bear out that conclusion. 

Moreover, the SBJSA will do nothing to bring back beloved stores that have already closed and could make it even harder to bring in new tenants since landlords, with less flexibility to respond to the market, will be more selective and want only those with a proven record of financial viability.

A more targeted approach would focus on strengthening retail storefront presence in those areas that City Planning calls “Underperforming Corridors” – in Coney Island, Brownsville, Richmond Hill, and Longwood — which suffer from long-term historic disinvestment. Incentives and/or modest tenant protections would help these areas without interfering with business decisions in high-income areas that don’t need help. 

We are not suffering from a shortage of places to shop or eat on the Upper West Side. The market will work here: if stores remain vacant for too long, landlords will lower the rents. That appears to be starting to happen.

The Council should not forge ahead with sweeping legislation that will impose real burdens on landlords in the majority of neighborhoods. 

Carol Kellermann was president of Citizens Budget Commission from 2008 through 2018.


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