Archive for the ‘Business Resources’ Category

International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE)

10/29/2015 Comments off

IMAGE grants are back for another year of funding. The Ohio International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE), funded by the state of Ohio and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is designed to increase exports and create jobs. The IMAGE grant offers financial assistance for small businesses to promote their products and services in international markets.

If you have any interest in the IMAGE grant program, please take the time to apply and get the process started. It will be very competitive this year, so don’t wait until the end and miss the opportunity.

WHAT does IMAGE cover?

IMAGE funds will reimburse companies a maximum of $10,000 (50 percent on expenditures up to $20,000) for participation in the following activities:

International Tradeshow Exhibition

  • Booth space rental and construction
  • Freight costs to ship booth and materials
  • Trade show registration fees
  • Travel expenses and domestic trade shows are not eligible

Approved Trade Missions

Individual Market Visit supported by the state of Ohio in-country support, USCS Gold Key Service or Food Export Market Builder

  • View supported market research assistance through the state of Ohio in-country support, the US Dept. of Commerce Gold Key service and Food Export Market Builder.
  • Economy-class airfare in accordance with the Fly America Act
  • Lodging rate as set by the U.S Department of State
  • Interpreter fees, ground transportation, meals and incidentals are not eligible
  • Travel expenses limited to two people

International Advertising

  • Cost of production and placement of advertisements in magazines, newspapers, posters, billboards, direct mail, on TV, radio and international websites
  • Printing costs are not eligible
  • Website Development
  • Website translation into foreign language, search engine optimization and localization services ($3,000 reimbursement maximum in this category)

Translation Services

  • Marketing material translations and localizations
  • Label, packaging and technical manual translations
  • Printing costs are not eligible

COMPANY Eligibility

The IMAGE program requires the application to be signed by a corporate officer, certifying that certain eligibility criteria will be met. Guidelines for eligibility include: the company operates a licensed business in Ohio to manufacture, assemble and/or distribute a product or provide an exportable service; company certifies that the products to be promoted contain a majority of U.S. content. U.S. content is valued at export-works price minus the aggregate value contributed by foreign suppliers, including labor and material; and nonprofits are not eligible.. There are other eligibility criteria listed at

HOW to Apply?

For application guidelines and tips, visit The application can be found at:

If you have questions concerning your company’s eligible reimbursements, contact Thien Bui at or 614.466.4996.

The SBDC, International Trade Program can assist you with determining the events and activities that support your export marketing plans. Call Kathy Marshalek for an appointment or suggestions at 937.775.3524.

Small Business Exporter of the Year 2016

10/29/2015 Comments off

The SBA will make Small Business Exporter of the Year awards to eligible small businesses at the State level (from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam) and the National level to small business owners who represent the nation’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and rich diversity. In those states served by more than one SBA district office, each district office will select a district level winner and the State winner will be selected at the regional level. The National Small Business Exporter of the Year will be selected from the regional level winners.

Who is eligible to be nominated for this award?

Any individual who owns and operates or who bears principal responsibility for operating a small business that is engaged in exporting may be nominated. Partners who jointly own and operate a small business may be nominated as a “team,” so long as the number of individuals in the team nomination does not exceed four. A nominee for Small Business Exporter of the Year must own or operate a business defined as “small” for its primary industry under the applicable SBA size standards. Individuals who have received the Small Business Person Award or Exporter Award at the State level within the past five years are not eligible. Elected officials are not eligible. Nominees must also be residents of the United States or its territories. Nominees will be subject to background checks. Small businesses owned and operated by nominees must comply with federal civil rights laws. While receipt of SBA assistance is not required, it is preferred. Consult your nearest SBA district office if you have questions.

Who may submit nominations for this award?

Any individual or organization dedicated to the support of the small business community in the United States, including, but not limited to, trade and professional associations and business organizations, may submit nominations for the Small Business Exporter of the Year award. Individuals may also self-nominate. Individuals may not be nominated for more than one National Small Business Week 2016 award category. SBA employees may help to solicit nominations, but they cannot submit nominations on behalf of the nominee.

Where are the nominations to be sent?

Nominations must be submitted in one of two ways:

1) Nominations may be submitted to the U.S. Small Business Administration district office in the state or territory where the nominee is located; or 2) Nominations may be submitted via the online nominations portal on

What is the deadline for nominations?

All nominations for Small Business Exporter of the Year submitted to the U.S. Small Business Administration district office in the state or territory where the nominee is located must be postmarked or hand delivered to the appropriate SBA District Office no later than 3:00pm ET, January 11, 2016. All nominations submitted through the online nominations portal must be uploaded and submitted no later than 3:00pm ET, January 11, 2016.

What information must the nomination package contain?

Nominations must contain the information required below. Incomplete nomination packages will not be considered. All evaluation/selection criteria must be specifically addressed.

1. A completed background form (SBA Form 3300, Award Nominee Background Form) which is available through SBA district offices and the online nominations portal. For “team” nominations, a background form is required for each team member;

2. A completed nomination form (SBA Form 3302, Small Business Exporter of the Year) which is available through SBA district offices and the online nominations portal;

3. An original 8” x 10” or 5” x 7” photo of the nominee or a digital photo – at least 300 dpi is required; photocopies are not acceptable. For “team” nominations, a photo of each nominee or group photo is acceptable;

4. Additional supporting documentation deemed significant by the nominator, including news clips, letters of recommendation, nomination letter (if not self-nominated) and other evidence of the appropriateness of the nomination (supporting documentation must not exceed 10 pages). Videos will not be considered.

What are the evaluation/selection criteria for the Exporter of the Year award?

In evaluating the nomination packages for the Exporter of the Year award, the judges will use the following criteria:

1) Increased sales, profits and/or growth of employment because of exporting.

2) Creative overseas marketing strategies.

3) Effective solutions to export-related problems, including trade financing, payment, and currency issues; market-entry and logistical challenges; cultural differences, etc.

4) Demonstrated encouragement of other small businesses to export.

5) Volunteer assistance to other small businesses entering the export market.

6) Cooperation with other businesses in the creation of export trading companies and/or introduction of unique trading relationships, products or services.

What are the selection procedures for this award?

SBA will make Small Business Exporter of the Year awards to eligible small businesses at the District, Regional, and National levels.

Winners at each level will be selected by a panel of judges that may be comprised of both SBA employees and non-Federal employees. The National Exporter of the Year will be selected by the SBA Administrator based on, but not restricted to, the recommendations of the panel of judges of federal employees. Non-federal employees serving as judges must sign a conflict of interest/non-disclosure certification.

Other SBA Awards

SBA is currently seeking nominations from the public for exceptional entrepreneurs. You can use this online portal to submit your nomination for the following awards:

  • * Small Business Person of the Year Awards
  • * Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • * Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
  • * Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery
  • * Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
  • * Veteran Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award
  • * Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award
  • * Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award
  • * Federal Procurement Award- Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence
  • * 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award
  • * Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award


What small business owners should know about employment “at-will”

03/31/2015 Comments off

While discussing the ins and outs of employing people in their small businesses, we find that many business owners feel that the “at-will” laws fully protect them in their decisions to let employees go. This is not necessarily true; if the termination is challenged, you will need to show documentation that shows it was not discriminatory.  Here is a link to a great article on the subject by Karolynn St-Pierre that all employers should read.

IRS Video Library to help you AND your business

03/19/2015 Comments off

The IRS has created an online archive of web content ready to help answer your questions.  Webinars, live chat sessions, and various other formats are just a click away.  Check out the site.

Categories: Business Resources Tags: ,

Want Free Money to Help Grow Your Small Business?

09/05/2014 Comments off


Starting this month, Chase and Google just kicked-off the 2014 MISSION MAIN STREET GRANTS PROGRAM, giving away $3 million to 20 small business in the United States. To promote small business development, each winner will receive:

  • $150K Grant to help grow the business
  • Trip to Google Headquarters for a marketing workshop with industry experts
  • Google Chromebook Laptop
  • $2,000 coupon toward one market research study with Google Consumer Surveys

All applicants will not leave empty-handed, however. Each participant will receive a marketing toolkit to help grow their business and a $150 coupon toward one market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.

To qualify, your business must be a U.S. based, for-profit entity, employ less than 100 employees, and have been in business for two consecutive years.

How to apply:

Applicants need to complete a grant questionnaire which includes answering five (5) short essay questions explaining their business; what inspired them to start a business; a description of their community involvement; what they would do with the grant; and their short-term and long-term business growth plans. Deadline for applying is October 3rd.

Furthermore, applicants need 250 Facebook votes for their business through the contest’s website. For more information, or to vote, click here.

But don’t worry. Deadline for the counted votes is October 17th.

Winners will be determined by a panel of expert judges from a selection of business organizations who promote economic development. Winners will be announced in January, 2015.

To learn more about the 2014 MISSION MAIN STREET GRANTS PROGRAM, register or vote please visit Chase’s website.

Good Luck!


Supported by:

2014 Chase Mission Main St Grant Sponsor_logos

Cleveland Business Matchmaker Event Announcement

08/07/2014 Comments off

The ninth annual Cleveland Matchmaker Event is a unique small business contracting
event, which presents a great opportunity for small businesses to gain access to buyers
that represent millions of dollars in purchasing. The goal of the event is to create future
contract opportunities for your small business through one-on-one sessions between
buyers and sellers.

Date: August 20 and 21, 2014
Time: 8 am – 4 pm
Location: The Terrace Club at Progressive Field
Cost: $159 per small business attendee
Registration: Register online at
For additional information, contact Angela Presutti
at (216) 592-2385 or |

100 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs according to Forbes Magazine

02/05/2014 Comments off

Trying to find internet resources to help you on your entrepreneurial journey? Forbes has searched high and low to bring you the top 100 list of Best Websites for Entrepreneurs. Save yourself some much needed time and check out the list here.

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