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Category: Small Business

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


  • 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.


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

SURVEY: Record number of shoppers gearing up for Small Business Saturday

  • November 23rd, 2015

CONTACT: Rosemary Elebash, 334-264-2261, or Todd Pack, 615-872-5897

MONTGOMERY, Nov. 18, 2015—Black Friday might be the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but a survey released today by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express shows that a record number of shoppers plan to shop local on Small Business Saturday.

The survey said a record 55 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, while 83 percent say Small Business Saturday makes them want to shop local and shop small all year long.

“That’s really encouraging,” said Rosemary Elebash, Alabama state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your community. When you shop at a chain store, most of the money goes back to some corporate office somewhere else, but when you support small, most of that money stays here at home.”

According to the fourth-annual Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey:

  • 80% of consumers are willing to pay slightly more for an item if it is purchased from a small, independently-owned retailer as opposed to online or at a large retailer
  • On average, consumers are planning to do 35% of their holiday shopping at small businesses
  • 45% of consumers who expect to shop on the day plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of consumers who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday are motivated by the contributions that small businesses make to their community

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for most of the jobs in this country, and small businesses create most of America’s net new jobs.

“You probably don’t know the owner of a big department store, but there’s a good chance you know a few small-business owners,” Elebash said. “They’re your friends and neighbors. They’re some of the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity. They’re what make our communities strong.”

What’s more, small businesses often sell merchandise—and provide a level of service—that you simply can’t find at a chain store, she said. “Instead of dealing with temporary workers who don’t know the merchandise, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing directly with the owner who cares very much about making you happy so you’ll come back time and again throughout the year.”

The Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,847 males and females 18 years of age or older. The sample was collected using an email invitation and an online survey. The study was conducted anonymously by independent marketing performance specialist Ebiquity on October 19-27, 2015. The survey has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.3%, at the 95% level of confidence. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/1MBv1QC

To learn more about what NFIB is doing to help small businesses promote the sales event, visit www.NFIB.com/smallbusinesssaturday.


NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.


Contest offers Alabama businesses a shot at ‘game-changing’ exposure at UA & AU games

  • November 20th, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has released a video detailing the ways their “Small Business Game Changer” could genuinely change the game an Alabama small business.

A first-of-its-kind opportunity, the BCA is awarding a complimentary 2016 football sponsorship package for both the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Season football sponsorships offer enormous exposure for companies fortunate enough to land one, and BCA aims to“proudly recognize the importance and impact of small businesses on our state.”

“This contest is truly unprecedented and will be a game changer,” said BCA Presdient and CEO William J. Canary.

Corporate sponsor benefits will include hospitality, game tickets, in-stadium logo exposure, radio time and more.

University of Alabama Corporate Sponsorship Benefits:
• One 15-second pre-game and one 15-second post-game radio commercial on the Crimson Tide Sports Radio Network for the 2016 regular season (24 total commercials)
• LED recognition in Bryant-Denny Stadium for all seven home football games
• 300,000 impressions on RollTide.com during the regular 2016 schedule
• One half-page program ad
• Two season tickets, two corporate hospitality passes and one parking pass

Auburn University Corporate Sponsorship Benefits:
• One (1) 2016 half-page color advertisement in Auburn Football Illustrated
• One (1) Auburn Football Pre-Game Show radio spot before each 2016 regular season game
• 300,000 banner advertisement impressions on AuburnTigers.com during the 2016 football regular season
• Pro-Ad LED Ribbonboard exposure inside Jordan-Hare Stadium during 2016 football regular season home games
• Two (2) football season tickets and two (2) IMG Pre-Game hospitality passes for the 2016 regular season

Small businesses can apply by going online to BCA’s contest website and share in 150 words or less why a 2016 Alabama or Auburn football sponsorship would be a game changer for their small business by the application deadline on Jan. 29, 2016.

The “Small Business Game Changer” contest is open only to small businesses located in the state of Alabama that are BCA members in good standing.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expose a deserving Alabama small business to fans and the campus community through association with Alabama football,” said Jim Carabin, general manager for Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. “We’re grateful to the Business Council of Alabama for graciously extending this offer and working closely with us to bring it to life. It will bring huge visibility to one company, and we encourage all applicable small businesses to register.”

For more information on the “Small Business Game Changer” contest, visit www.bcatoday.org/football.


For the original article click here.

Small town Alabama business is a top 10 finalist to win an ad during Super Bowl 50

  • November 3rd, 2015

SELMA, Ala. — Robert Armstrong is owner of G Mommas Cookies, and one of 10 finalists competing in the Small Business Big Game competition by Intuit QuickBooks. The national competition could provide this small southern cookie business the chance to appear in a prime time commercial during NFL Super Bowl 50 next year.

To vote for G Mommas Cookies before Nov. 3, visit smallbusinessbiggame.com.

The commercial for the winning entry, valued at $4.5 million is set to air during the “Big Game” on Feb 7, 2016. Last season’s Super Bowl audience averaged 114.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in U.S. history.

Armstrong has already said business has picked up since the announcement.

“I’ve gotten a lot of PR just regionally and state-wide just because of the competition,” Armstrong said. “It’s just such a big opportunity, people have really grabbed on to what this would mean for my business and what kind of big deal it is. From that I’ve really seen a sales pickup. It’s been crazy.”

With Armstrong getting the message out to go vote online for his business, other local businesses have come to aide Armstrong promote his store. Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin sponsored a cookies and cream social on Oct. 26 at Sweet Advantages, a local ice cream shop.

“We wanted to promote G Mommas Cookies, so we thought cookies and cream,” said storeowner Towanda Friday. “Ice cream and cookies go good together. They are good cookies, and Robert is a good guy.”

Armstrong will be flown out to California to find out the winner of the competition on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“It really probably hasn’t hit me yet,” Armstrong said. “When I get to California, I’m going to be a nervous wreck, because if I get it — it will change my life.”

Though he understands the potential effects of winning such a national competition, Armstrong still remembers his hometown and reasons why he started his business in the first place.

“The reason I started this business is to make an impact on my hometown not only tangibly, but also intangibly by showing people that you don’t have to live in a big city to start a business and be successful on a national scale,” said Armstrong. “My roots are in Selma and it is apart of who I am, and one of my passions is to see it revived and improve economically.”

To vote for G Mommas Cookies before Nov. 3, visit smallbusinessbiggame.com.

Find the original story here.

Alabama listed among the most tax-friendly states

  • October 2nd, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Washington, D.C-based finance and business magazine Kiplinger recently named Alabama among the most tax friendly states in the nation.
Though the state has been embroiled in its own battle over whether or not to raise taxes to increase revenue, it still remains one of the lowest-tax states on net.

Coming in at #5, Kiplinger noted Alabama’s low income, sales, and property taxes, but also mentioned the relatively uncommon practice of taxing groceries.

State income tax: 2% (on income up to $500/individual, $1,000/joint) – 5% (on income of more than $3,000/individual, $6,000/joint)

State sales tax: 4%

Gas taxes and fees: 21 cents per gallon

Alabama’s property taxes are the second-lowest in the U.S. (Hawaii has the lowest on a percentage basis, helped by the sky-high value of property there.) Median tax on the state’s median home value of $122,700 is just $532.

It doesn’t take much income to find yourself in the state’s top income tax bracket, where a 5% rate kicks in for those making as little as $3,000 for single filers and $6,000 for married couples. However, the Yellowhammer State allows residents to deduct all federal income tax from state taxable income.

While the state sales tax rate is a modest 4%, additional levies from state and local jurisdictions boost the average combined rate to 8.9%, among the highest in the U.S. And unlike most states, Alabama doesn’t exempt food from its sales tax. Prescription drugs and insulin-related items are exempt.

Here are the top 10 most tax-friendly states, according to Kiplinger:

New Mexico
South Carolina

Article by Elizabeth Beshears, original link here.