Tag: businesses

UK government warns businesses to ‘act now’ on transition preparation

Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives for a cabinet meeting at the FCO in London, Britain September 22, 2020. Photo: Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters
Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives for a cabinet meeting at the FCO in London, Britain September 22, 2020. Photo: Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters

As the Brexit transition period countdown hits 81 days, the UK’s business secretary Alok Sharma has called on companies to take action now to prepare.

Sharma is due to write to 600,000 businesses on Monday 12 October, emphasising that there is no time to waste to get ready for the UK’s “new start.”

Boris Johnson has said the transition period, due to end at the end of the year, will not be extended.

The EU and UK have been negotiating for months on the finer points of the exit agreement.

Johnson said the country is committed to “exploring every avenue” to reach an agreement on Brexit talks, in a phone call to France’s president Macron yesterday, in which he also urged the need for progress to be made in the coming days.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson: UK ready to ‘explore every avenue’ for Brexit talks

“Businesses must act now to ensure they are ready for the UK’s new start come January. There will be no extension to the transition period, so there is no time to waste,” said Sharma.

“I urge all businesses across the country to check gov.uk to see what action they need to take, sign up for updates, or attend one of our sector-specific webinars.

“Businesses have a crucial role to play in ensuring a smooth transition, and we will be there to support them through this change every step of the way.”

The government is to host a range of sector-specific webinars on the topic, covering what needs to be done on permits, visas and tariffs.

The vast majority of preparation for the end of the transition period will have to be completed regardless of the outcome of negotiations, the government said.

Those things include ensuring staff register for residency rights and preparing for customs procedures when trading with the EU.

Watch: What happens if no Brexit trade deal is struck?

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Crowdfunding Success Indicates Small Businesses And Startups Worthy Of Government Matching Program

Community-focused investing has funded local small businesses and startups across the US. Since 2016, half a billion dollars has been raised from investment crowdfunding, generating $2 billion in economic activity and supporting 100,000 jobs.

According to Regulation Crowdfunding by Congressional District: A Report Card by Crowdfund Capital Advisors, Congress can encourage this more by creating the Main Street Recovery Co-Investment Fund. The United Kingdom has already done this to great success. It worked so well that Fund was re-upped twice, including to support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

A critical lesson from the 2007-2009 financial crisis was that access to capital for small businesses matters. Small businesses were hit harder than large companies by the Great Recession. During and for a period after the financial crisis (2009-2013), big banks reduced lending to small businesses by 20%. Still, they increased loans to larger companies by 4%. During the Covid-19 crisis, access to financing for small businesses is more critical than ever before.

A new category of financing—crowdfunding—was created to meet some of this need. This article is focused on investment crowdfunding and its three forms enacted by the JOBS Act, which allow businesses to raise money via online platforms:

  • Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) enables companies to raise about $1 million per year from both average and wealthy (accredited) investors.
  • Rule 506 of Regulation D enables issuers to raise money from wealthy investors.
  • Regulation A+ (Reg A+) enables issuers to raise up to $50 million from both average and wealthy investors provided that the offering is qualified by the SEC.

Due to the Covid-19 Crisis, the SEC has announced an update of some Reg CF rules, including lifting the cap on how much a company can raise from $1 million to $5 million. Separately, it has recommended making this permanent along with other rules. 

Even in 2012, Congress agreed on little, but getting capital to small businesses and startups was something they did. A bipartisan, overwhelming majority passed the JOBS Act. It was intended to encourage funding of small businesses by easing many of the country’s securities regulations. It took four years to phase-in the laws for all three forms of investment.

Sherwood Neiss and his partner, Jason Best, of Crowdfund Capital Advisors, are leading the charge for Reg CF. Neiss is a co-founder of FlavorRX, which offers flavored medicine that kids are more likely to take. “Our phone rang off the hook from mothers and fathers asking to invest in the company,” said Neiss. If you weren’t rich, there was no way, as an average Jane or Joe, to invest in a private company. He sold the company in 2007. 

When small businesses struggled to get financing during and after the Great Recession, Neiss asked himself, “What if there was a way to turn customers into investors?” This would require changes to SEC investor laws.

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How businesses, government agencies work together to update pollution-spewing older cars



a group of people posing for the camera: From left, Bill Droessler and Gillian Greenberg of Environmental Initiative; Cathy Heying, founder of the Lift Garage in Minneapolis, and JoHanna Smrcina, Lift Garage operations director, are in the vanguard of a private-public partnership to reduce auto emissions from older vehicles and help the working poor. Photo: Neal.St.Anthony@startribune.com


© Star Tribune/Star Tribune/NeaL St. Anthony • Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS
From left, Bill Droessler and Gillian Greenberg of Environmental Initiative; Cathy Heying, founder of the Lift Garage in Minneapolis, and JoHanna Smrcina, Lift Garage operations director, are in the vanguard of a private-public partnership to reduce auto emissions from older vehicles and help the working poor. Photo: [email protected]

Environmental Initiative, along with some partnering organizations, is expanding its work to make Minnesota’s vehicles cleaner, safer and more energy efficient.

This latest work comes 15 years after the same partners retrofitted the first of 4,500 diesel school buses, trucks and off-road equipment as part of what Environmental Initiative called Project Green Fleet.

Environmental Initiative, or EI, is financed by Flint Hills Resources with support from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the city of Minneapolis. The group has now launched Project CAR (Clean Air Repairs) with designs on fixing older passenger cars, trucks and vans that cause 90% of vehicle emissions.

Last week, technicians worked on several vehicles of working-poor customers of the Lift Garage on E. Lake Street in Minneapolis that need tires, batteries, fluid changes and the like. The owners were cleared based on financial need to get additional pollution-control work through Project CAR.

“Our customers will pay $500 on average for tires, brakes, batteries or other critical repairs so they can get to work,” said JoHanna Smrcina, operations director at the Lift. “Now we can say, you also need a catalytic converter or oxygen sensor and Project CAR will pay.”

Only about 70 cars have gotten the Project CAR pollution-remediation treatment so far this year in a slow ramp-up. If past is precedent, this matters.

Project Green Fleet, which similarly started small, has retrofitted 3,200 school buses with emissions-depleting equipment, said Gillian Greenberg, a project coordinator at EI. That has allowed 300,000 school kids to breathe cleaner air and reduced asthma and other illnesses.

What’s more, 1,400 heavy-duty diesel engines in trucks, buses and off-road equipment were retrofitted. That equals removing 750,000 cars from state roads.

“Project CAR [will] help our environment, energize our economy and improve health for vulnerable citizens,” said Bill Droessler, director of clean air programs at Environmental Initiative. “We find practical things … that make sense economically and environmentally. We’re also trying for … greater outcomes in overburdened communities [of] lower-income people of color who cope with more pollution.”

The Minnesota Department of Health and MPCA say studies prove poor air quality disproportionately affects people living in poverty. Project CAR funds repairs to four priority emission-control systems: catalytic converters, evaporative emission control (EVAP) systems, oxygen sensors and exhaust gas recirculation valves. Repairs initially are provided through the Lift and Newgate School in Minneapolis; Cars for Neighbors in Blaine, and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Small Vehicle Garage in Cass Lake.

“Cost is the No. 1 barrier for low-income Minnesotans considering car repairs,” Smrcina said. “Project CAR allows them to improve the safety and efficiency of their vehicles at little or no

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