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Category: Small Business

OPPAL Available to Help Businesses on Oct. 1

  • October 7th, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Sept. 28, 2016 — Beginning Oct. 1, Alabama businesses will be able to report equipment, tools,
machinery and other business personal property through the Optional Personal Property Assessment Link (OPPAL)
online system.

OPPAL is an optional, free, reporting-only portal. The electronically filed return will contain all information included
in the standard paper tax return. There is no charge to the taxpayer for utilizing this service. The OPPAL Web portal
will be available to accept taxpayer information from Oct. 1 of each year until the following Jan. 31.

OPPAL was designed per the requirements of Section 40-7-56, Code of Alabama, 1975, that states the Department of
Revenue will develop, maintain and administer an online business personal property tax filing system to allow any
taxpayer required to file a business personal property tax return with any county assessing official or applicable agency
the ability and option to file the return electronically.

“We are always looking for better and more efficient ways businesses can interact with state and local governments.

OPPAL provides that and I’m appreciative for the support of those who helped build it, especially the OPPAL Advisory
Council made up of representatives from county governments and the business community,” said Revenue
Commissioner Julie P. Magee.

For more information on OPPAL, visit http://oppal.alabama.gov/.

For the original ADOR press release, click here.

Federal grants could help Alabama recover from coal losses

  • August 31st, 2016

By: Kelly Poe, al.com

Alabama coal miners have recently faced mine closures, job losses and benefits reductions, and two recently awarded federal grants aim to ease some of the problems the industry decline has caused.

The federal government’s Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded two groups in Alabama grants to help the industry figure out what’s next.

Southern Research in Birmingham received a $60,202 grant to develop a strategic plan to increase entrepreneurship in Alabama’s counties that have been most impacted by the decline of coal.

“We’re going to have an energy industry in the state. What’s it going to be for the next 100 years?” Southern Research’s Director of Energy and Environment Corey Tyree said. “For the last 100 years, coal was a big part of that. I don’t see an economic driver that’s going to bring that back.”

Tyree estimates that since the industry’s peak in 1990, Alabama has lost 21,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in the coal sector throughout the entire supply chain. Tyree used Energy Information Administration data to develop that estimate.

“Coal is an important part of our historical economic base,” Tyree said. “This region, like others in the Appalachian region, was disproportionately affected by the downturn in the industry.”

The plan will focus on how to use existing research and development assets in the energy and agricultural sectors to encourage small business growth.

The Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in Florence was awarded a $997,150 grant for the “Shoals Shift” project. The funds will fund entrepreneurial programs to increase profitability of area companies and startups through more efficient use of broadband technologies.

ARC estimates the project will create or retain 110 jobs, start 20 new business, and leverage $10 million in private estimates.

Last year alone was a devastating blow to the Alabama coal industry, following a long history of decline in the coal industry. Walter Energy eliminated hundreds of jobs last year as it navigated bankruptcy, but it was far from alone. North American Coal Corporation closed its Jasper operation, and Cliffs Natural Resources laid off more than 200 workers.

Alabama is one of nine Appalachian states to receive grants totaling nearly $39 million that are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. The other eight states to receive grants are Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Appalachian Regional Commission estimates that 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs have been lost between 2011 and 2015.

For the original article, click here.

Small Business Forum Web Conference

  • August 23rd, 2016

Does your organization or association work closely with small business owners? If so, please join us September 14 at 10 a.m. as we exchange ideas, gather information, and create new partnerships within the small business community. Our Virtual Small Business Forum is free and open to those with an interest in small business or self-employment. This forum will provide your organization with helpful resources to share with your clients, members, partners, etc.

The Forum will take place via WebEx from the comfort of your own computer. Please RSVP to Regina.P.Malisham@irs.gov or call 251-341-5937. Once your RSVP has been received, you will be sent the login information for attending.

Find step-by-step instruction for accessing WebEx: Attending a WebEx Session – Participant Info

You can view the original event event invitation here: SBF Flyer – 9.14.2016

Veteran-owned business receive official letters

  • August 8th, 2016

Eugene Overstreet is the owner of Street’s Restaurant and Street’s Seafood and Meat Market in Bay Minette. He is a Vietnam veteran and a member of the two veteran service organizations in Bay Minette. He regularly supports, donates to, and sponsors veteran events, veterans, and their families and the community. ADOL’s Nicholas Bowen makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Bob Harry is a retired disabled Army veteran and the owner of Aabon Home Health Care Supply in Ozark. ADOL’s Larry Vaughn makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Wiley McWhorter is a retired disabled veteran and the owner of Wiley’s Smuteye Grill in Banks. ADOL’s Dan Perkins makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

Justin Garner is a veteran and owner of Garner Technologies in Dothan. He started the business two years ago. As of now, he has two employees and of them is also a veteran. He also plans on hiring someone with sales experience in the future. ADOL’s Larry Vaughn makes the presentation of the official VOB letter and decal.

60,000 Alabama Jobs Affected by Overtime Rule

  • July 7th, 2016

Come Dec. 1, business owners across Alabama and nationwide will be paying higher labor costs as a result of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule. The DOL estimates the regulation will impact more than 60,000 workers in Alabama.

The rule will raise the threshold at which employees are exempt from earning overtime pay—from $23,660 to $47,476. The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that employees are not eligible for overtime pay if they are compensated at a minimum wage level (now $47,476), if they are paid on a salaried basis, and if they perform duties considered professional, administrative, or executive in nature. Now, under the new rule, the minimum wage level triggering overtime exemption is nearly double the old rate.

NFIB has spoken at length to the media about the harmful impact of this ruling, including decreased staff morale stemming from employment status changes, reduced hours, and falling pay rates. Rosemary Elebash, NFIB/Alabama state director, says the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule is going to hurt small businesses throughout Alabama.

“It’s going to mean higher costs for employers, and that’s going to force them to make some tough decisions when it comes to staffing,” she said. “On top of that, you’re going to see some salaried positions disappear and some workers slide back to hourly jobs. In other words, these new rules are going to hurt the very people officials say they’re trying to help.”

For businesses that operate on calendar year budgets, this unplanned mandate for increased labor costs in the final month of 2016 complicates matters. The Birmingham Business Journal spoke to several Birmingham employment law experts, who advised employers to begin planning and budgeting now, evaluating the job responsibilities and the hours worked for those who will no longer be exempt.

One small item of relief: Bonuses, incentive pay, and commissions can account for up to 10 percent of the salary threshold if the payments are made on a quarterly basis. However, the exemption level will continue to rise, tied to inflation, every three years, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, please visit NFIB.com/Overtime.

For the original article, click here.

How can Mobile help small businesses?

  • June 21st, 2016

MOBILE, AL (WALA) –
FOX10 News is committed to tracking the growth of our local economy.

The City of Mobile has started a new program where Mayor Sandy Stimpson will meet with small business owners to discuss the challenges they face.

Small business owners and others attended a Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday morning listening to the latest developments at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley.

Mayor Stimpson has announced he would like to meet with small business owners in a new initiative called Meet Mobile.

The purpose?

Laura Byrne with the City of Mobile said it’s to “find the best way to address their needs. Every small business owner has different needs, different challenges that they face every day, and we have that conversation to figure out what those are and how we can better serve them as a city.”

What would small business owners say to Mayor Stimpson?

David Calametti, who owns Alabama Coasting, said, “It’s difficult to build in this town. It’s difficult to understand what the rules are because they seem to often change when you’re opening a new restaurant or new business

The owner of Elegant Knights Limo and Party Bus and says she would discuss transportation issues.

Mary Taylor said that would be “getting around and to have more exposure.”

But not everyone has a laundry list of issues.

Sam St. John with Logical Computer Solutions said, “Things have been really going great for us. As you know, the City of Mobile is growing rapidly.”

Glenda Snodgrass with the The Net Effect said, “I think we’re definitely going in the right direction. Things are looking up.”

Byrne says there’s already been good response to the program and meeting schedules are being drawn up.

For the original article, click here.

Alabama 20th Best for Business, CEOs say

  • June 16th, 2016

Out-of-state perception of workforce quality and living environment shows room for improvement.

More than 500 CEOs across the country took part in Chief Executive magazine’s annual “Best and Worst States for Business” survey, and Alabama ranked just above the middle of the pack at No. 20. However, there were discrepancies between out-of-state CEOs and those who operate businesses located in Alabama.

Across the board, the CEOs surveyed had a generally positive view of the state’s business-friendliness, but non-Alabama CEOs tended to have a less positive impression of the workforce and living environment. Forrest Wright, president of the Economic Development Authority for the Shoals area, told the Associated Press this was a common perception that recruiters fight to overcome in discussions and that some parts of the state do better than others. But when prospective industries listen to presentations about Alabama’s business climate with an open mind, he said, it’s easier to show them that the state is a good place to locate a company.

The survey focused on three factors—taxes and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment—all of which incorporated several variables:

  • Taxes and regulation included state income tax, corporate tax rates, perceived attitude government has toward business, employment rates, environmental compliance regulations, and tax incentives.
  • Workforce quality included employee-management relationships, work ethic, education level, wage rates, and availability of workers with specialized experience and education.
  • Living environment included crime rate, quality of education and healthcare, cost of real estate, transportation access, and arts and cultural institutions.

Alabama ranked No. 17 in taxes and regulation, No. 33 in workforce quality, and No. 33 in living environment. Its overall No. 20 ranking was up from last year’s ranking of No. 24, but down from No. 17 in 2014 and No. 16 in 2013.

Click here for the original article.

Two leading Alabama business owners named champions

  • May 23rd, 2016

A leading state businessman and businesswoman are being recognized as America’s Retail Champions.

The National Retail Federation has announced it is recognizing Alabama Retail Association Chairman Ricky Bromberg, president of Bromberg and Co. in Birmingham, and retail association board member Terry Shea, co-owner of Wrapsody in Hoover and Auburn, for their contributions to advocacy.

Bromberg and Shea will be in Washington, D.C., next week to take part in NRF’s Retail Advocate’s Summit.

“Through the America’s Retail Champions program, the National Retail Federation is proud to host hardworking small business owners in Washington, D.C., to recognize our industry’s most engaged retail advocates,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “These men and women truly personify the American Dream, and it is important that Washington lawmakers hear first hand from retail job and opportunity creators in towns large and small across the country.

Bromberg and Shea are among 41 small business retailers throughout the country to be named as a 2016 Champion, and are in the running to be named as a finalist and honored as the America’s Retail Champion of the Year.

In 2015, Alabama Retail Immediate Past Chairman George Wilder was named a Top 5 finalist for America’s Retail Champion of the Year.

View the original article here.

Work Based Learning Success Story

  • February 29th, 2016

JoMorris Law and his sister, Virginia Law, were visiting the Jackson Career Center in Clarke County when they were interviewed by Career Center staff to determine if they met the requirements for the Work Based Learning (WBL) program. Both were food stamp recipients lacking work history living in a poor rural area (Coffeeville).

JoMorris had taken some night welding courses at Alabama Southern Community College, but was not interested in enrolling full-time in the welding program (Industrial Training Authority). His goal was to gain employment in the welding field. Virginia also was interested in gaining employment in a position working with others.

Both were scheduled to take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). TABE results indicated JoMorris was basic skills proficient, but Virginia was basic skills deficient. JoMorris was referred to Sheila Thompson, Business Services Representative, for possible WBL placement and Virginia was referred to the Alabama Southern Community College Adult Education Program. Since Alabama Southern Community College (ASCC) Adult Education, Coffeeville site, was closed for the Christmas holidays, staff gave Virginia math and reading remediation information for her to study on her own and then re take the TABE.

Ms. Thompson had been conducting meetings with several employers regarding WBL, with positive responses. Jackson Metalworks, Inc., a metal machine shop in Jackson, AL, was one of those employers, and the ideal worksite in light of JoMorris’s desire to enter the welding profession. Jackson Metalworks has been an excellent employer in the On the Job Training (OJT) program, and has trained and subsequently employed eight Machinists and Welders over the past two years. Several of these OJT participants have either been promoted to supervisory positions or offered jobs elsewhere making in excess of $25.00 per hour. Jackson Metalworks trains these participants and gives the work experience required by most industrial employers.

Ms. Thompson called Ricky Milstead, the owner of Jackson Metalworks, and asked if he would be interested in JoMorris for WBL. Jackson Metalworks already had one WBL participant. Mr. Milstead interviewed JoMorris and was impressed with his humble attitude and courteous nature. Mr. Milstead offered a WBL Internship to JoMorris in the position of a Machine Shop Attendant, and said if JoMorris showed interest, dependability and a good work ethic, he would then like to offer him OJT in the position of a Welder. JoMorris began his internship on November 19, 2015.

On December 4, 2015, Mr. Milstead told Ms. Thompson during a phone conversation that, in his opinion, JoMorris was a SUPERSTAR! Mr. Milstead said he was very pleased with JoMorris’s performance thus far and that he wished he had a dozen more like him. Throughout the internship, all follow-ups with the employer were positive in regards to JoMorris. Ms. Thompson relayed this to JoMorris and encouraged him to keep up the good work. She continued to remind him that performance during the internship would be the deciding factor in being offered an OJT contract upon completion of the 390 hours.

On January 21, 2016, at the request of the employer, a request was made and approval was given for Jackson Metalworks to train JoMorris in the positon of Welder. JoMorris was scheduled to complete the 390 hours of WBL on February 3, 2016. Ms. Thompson received a phone call from JoMorris at the end of his work day. “Ms. Sheila! I got the job! I just wanted to call and say thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.” JoMorris will be trained as a Welder at the hourly rate of $11.00.
JoMorris’s sister Virginia was retested, but still needed remediation. Because of the success of her brother JoMorris, a request was made to allow Virginia to be referred to Ms. Thompson for possible WBL placement.

Ms. Thompson contacted The Arc of Clarke County (TARCC), which is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to providing services and advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities in Clarke County, who had an open job order for a Life Coach. Virginia had expressed an interest in working with and helping people. Ms. Thompson contacted TARCC, who interviewed Virginia. Virginia began her work experience at TARCC Monday, January 25, 2016. At the end of her first day at work, Virginia came to the Career Center and reported that she loved it! Ms. Thompson met with Virginia’s supervisor following Virginia’s second day of work, who said Virginia that was doing a wonderful job and that she thought she was going to work out great!

Since placing Virginia at The ARC as a Life Coach, ASCC has opened an Adult Education site at the Career Center. Virginia has been referred and will work on her math and reading skills after she gets off of work on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The WBL program has been life changing for this family. JoMorris has gained full-time employment going from $7.25 per hour to $11.00 per hour with benefits. Virginia is still working as a WBL participant, and if things continue to go well, TARCC will employ Virginia full-time as a Life Coach making $8.00 an hour.

Read the WBL Press Release

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR ALABAMA’S SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS THIS YEAR

  • January 5th, 2016

Legislative session expected to address new tax credits, infrastructure problems.

The Alabama Legislative Session begins on Feb. 2, and there are several issues likely to be debated that will impact small business owners. Here’s a look at them.

HSA Tax Deduction

Legislation seeking to align Alabama’s income tax law to federal law with regard to health savings accounts—SB 9, HB 70 and HB 215—failed in the 2015 session, but is expected to resurface this year. These bills would give a state income tax deduction to those who make contributions to their HSAs to pay for healthcare costs.

Tax Rate Notification

Legislation on this topic—SB 322—also failed in the 2015 session, but we expect to see it again in the 2016 session. Under this bill, taxpayers would not be liable for collection and charge of incorrect tax rates based on the rate published by the Alabama Department of Revenue website. Local governments would have procedures with which to notify ADOR of rate changes, and these changes wouldn’t take effect until the first day of the third month following the notification. This would allow business owners time to update their bookkeeping for local and state changes and relieve them of penalties or interest for use of outdated rates.

Tax Credits

Two bills, which would give business owners tax credits for hiring veterans and for establishing an apprenticeship training program, are currently in draft form. “A trained and ready-to-work workforce is a priority for Alabama business owners,” says Rosemary Elebash, NFIB’s Alabama state director.

General Fund Cuts

Alabama legislators have stayed opposed to tax increases in the face of the state’s budget woes, and as a result of this and rising costs, cuts to the General Fund are expected this year, the Montgomery Advertiser reported last month.

The chairs of the Legislature’s General Fund committees, Representative Steve Clouse and Senator Trip Pittman, told the Advertiser that level funding in the budget was an optimistic best-case scenario.

In the current budget, Medicaid, Corrections, Mental Health, Human Resources and Pardons and Paroles were shielded from cuts, but Sen. Pittman says he doesn’t think any agency would get protection this year. Budget committees will hold budget hearings this month in preparation for the beginning of session.

Infrastructure

Alabama earned a C- for its infrastructure system of roads, bridges, ports, railroads, airports and more, according to an assessment recently conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

ASCE studied 11 infrastructure categories, grading each individually:

Aviation (B-)

Bridges (C-)

Dams (N/A—Alabama has no dam safety program)

Drinking water (C+)

Energy (B)

Inland waterways (D+)

Ports (B-)

Rail (B-)

Roads (D+)

Transit (D)

Wastewater (C-)

“Whether you’re driving across roads and bridges, taking a shower, or charging your cell phone, infrastructure affects everyone in Alabama,” the study says. “Infrastructure also impacts our businesses and helps move our economy, taking freight from ports to store shelves and taking workers to their jobs.”

Proposals to solve this growing problem are expected to be debated in session, starting next month.

For the original article from NFIB click here