Business across the country experienced challenges associated with extreme weather this winter. Record low temperatures and snow blanketed much of the country, while California and its $45 billion agriculture sector continued to cope with a historic drought and high temperatures. 

Last week, we asked you how this winter affected your business. Your answers paint a clear picture: 54% of you said you experienced a loss or cash disruption as a result of severe weather this winter. 

We’ve put your responses together with our own research in a new issue brief.

Here are the top-line findings:

  • This winter hurt sales as consumers stayed at home;
  • Logistics and travel networks were disrupted;
  • Cold weather, especially in Midwestern states, delayed home construction;
  • The three-year long drought in California will increase food prices across the country;
  • Losses and disruptions are real, even if economic indicators rebound.

Download our report on the business impact of extreme weather this past winter.

At Business Forward, we want to make sure you have the tools and knowledge you need to make informed opinions about issues that affect your bottom line. Our latest report is part of that effort.

Posted In: Climate Change
| Evan Brown, Digital Associate

5 Government Resources and Programs for Tech Entrepreneurs

Dozens of business leaders from across the country joined Business Forward earlier this month in Washington to brief Senior Administration officials and Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) on technology entrepreneurship and how changes to federal policy could help them grow their companies.

“It was particularly helpful to learn of some of the innovative programs that the Administration has around funding and access to data. I was also able to share some of my suggestions for ways to more effectively access capital that is critical for growth,” said Lisa Jones Johnson, president & CEO of SafeTCom, said of the event.

Here are resources for tech startups looking for support from the government:

Small Business Investment Companies – The SBA works with and regulates the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), which provides private investment funds and growth capital to small businesses. SBICs are private, profit-seeking companies and financed over 1,000 small businesses in the government’s 2013 fiscal year. Find SBICs in your state by visiting this guide. The Federal and State Technology (FAST) Program is another avenue to access competitive grants designed to strengthen the technological competitiveness of small businesses.

You can find the closest SBA district office by visiting this directory, and visit the SBA’s website for more information about the work it does.

Data.govThis website is a one-stop portal for accessing over 90,000 government data sets that can help you conduct research and develop ideas.

U.S. Patent and Trademark OfficeThe USPTO issues patents and trademarks for businesses and their inventions. Inventors can find information about how to work with the USPTO and protect their intellectual property here and can learn more about intellectual property law and policy here.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) fund – In 2012, nearly 5,000 businesses received over $1.8 billion in grants and contracts for R&D support. SBIR provides access to grants and contracts to help fund R&D and product commercialization. SBIR lists open solicitations that detail areas of R&D that agencies are interested in. More information about how the program works can be found here.

White House Business Council- The White House provides an extensive directory of  various administration programs that support small businesses and tech entrepreneurs, including programs like Start Up America. A guide to all of these resources can be found here.



| Peter Rasmussen, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Survey: Winter Weather And Your Business

As the second quarter of 2014 begins, Business Forward is gathering information about the impact this winter’s severe weather had on businesses’ bottom lines. As you may know, we hold regular programing with senior Administration officials and host monthly calls with the Treasury Department on the nation’s jobs numbers.

Please take our short survey, starting here:

Did you experience a loss or cash disruption as a result of severe weather (snow, cold, rain, drought, etc.) this winter?


We will not share your answers without your permission, but we may be in contact with you to better understand the challenges you faced as a result of severe weather.

Fill out the survey >

Posted In: Climate Change

Please join Business Forward for our monthly update about the Affordable Care Act with Sol Ross, Director of Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sol will give a report on the end of open enrollment and a preview of the next phase of implementation as it pertains to businesses.

There will be time for you to ask questions and share your advice at the end of the call. Please note this call is off-the-record and not for press purposes.

Click here to register for the conference call on Wednesday, 16 April

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When: Wednesday, April 16 from 4:00–4:30 p.m. EDT

Where: A teleconference dial-in and password will be sent to you when you register 

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Sol Ross: Director of Private Sector Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Sol Ross currently serves as the Director of Business Outreach in the Intergovernmental and External Affairs Office in the Department of Health and Human Services. He serves as a liaison between the business community and the department on Affordable Care Act, strategic initiatives including the White House Business and Jobs & Competitiveness Councils, and as a direct point of contact for businesses.

Previously he spent two years in state and local government consulting, working with Fortune 500 clients on various dynamic campaigns. Prior to those endeavors, Mr. Ross was the Manager of Government Relations for BearingPoint, Inc. in McLean VA, where he oversaw State and Local Government Affairs for the Public Sector. Upon arrival, Sol helped to reduce to overall budget spent on state consultants, and served to create the Hurricane Katrina Taskforce, which contributed over $1M in pro bono assistance to the affected region.

While working at BearingPoint, Sol also helped establish the Government Affairs Committee for TechAmerica, and served as Vice Chair on the committee in its inaugural year. The committee identified key legislators and decision makers regarding government contracting and tech issues.

Prior to BearingPoint, Sol served as the State-Federal Relations Director for the State of Illinois. He managed the Federal Appropriations process, and devised the outreach strategy for State Agency Directors and Secretaries to the Illinois Delegation and Federal Government. In addition, Mr. Ross helped create the Chairman's Agenda for the Midwestern Governors Association in 2005, and served as the staff lead for the Democratic Governors Federal Liaison from 2004-2005.

Sol received his BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.



Jobs Report Recap: Private Employment Reaches Pre-Recession High

On Friday, the Department of Labor announced that the economy gained 192,000 jobs in March, bringing the U.S. back to the recent trend of modest but persistent job gains.

Dr. Jennifer Hunt, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Microeconomic Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, offered an in-depth analysis of these figures on Monday in a webinar hosted by Business Forward.

Highlights from the March Jobs Report

  • U.S. employment pass its pre-recession peak, but at the current pace will not return to full employment until 2017.
  • More temporary workers and longer hours could signal an increase in hiring in the near future or could reflect a new normal.
  • Retail and construction employment growth continues to lag behind other sectors.

* * * * *

Businesses added 192,000 workers to their payrolls in March, and the January and February estimates were revised up by 37,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, though this partly reflects an increase in the number of Americans looking for work. Dr. Hunt said that the data suggests that most businesses were less affected by the harsh winter weather this month as the average hours worked by employees rose to a record high.

After last month’s gain, private sector employment has now surpassed its pre-recession peak. However, total employment is still below its previous high with fewer government employees than in 2008. While this is a notable milestone. Dr. Hunt estimated that if the current pace of job growth continues at around 200,000 new jobs per month, the country will not return to full employment until 2017.

Not all sectors have recovered equally. For example, the construction industry experienced more job growth than in recent months but has only regained one-third of the jobs lost during the recession. Last month, Dr. Hunt suggested listeners watch retail trade, which experienced losses in January and February. The retail industry’s gain of 21,000 jobs in March was a positive sign but not enough to inspire confidence in the sector.

Similar to last month, professional and business services led jobs growth in March with 57,000 new employees. Of those new employees, 29,000 were temporary workers, which are always included in the professional and business services sector regardless of what industry employs them. Dr. Hunt noted that the combination of a significant increase in temporary workers and the hours worked by employees would usually indicate the recovery is about to take off, but it could also reflect a new normal. Will employers choose to rely more on temporary workers instead of hiring permanent staff?

Sector Breakdown

One listener asked Dr. Hunt why the recovery has been so much slower than in previous recessions. Economists are divided on this issue, but the decline in government jobs stood out to Dr. Hunt as a key difference between this recovery and previous ones. Some economists have argued that financial crises cause longer-lasting damage than other types of recessions, which may suggest the trend of moderate job growth will continue. The weakness in Europe over the past few years may have spilled over to the U.S. market, as well, which could indicate a faster recovery in 2014 if that region begins to stabilize. 

For more information, Dr. Hunt's slides are posted below: