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Deborah Edmondson
Deborah Edmondson, Central Desktop
Partner, VP Marketing
Tel: 843-368-2483

Worthless Check Unit

 

We at the Mission Resources Group constantly look for good ideas that will help Lowcountry businesses improve their operations. So, I’m glad to report that I recently learned about the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Worthless Check Unit at the Bluffton Networking Group forum conducted monthly by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. This valuable program provides a great example of how government can play a useful role assisting business without becoming overly intrusive. The program works. It’s free and self-sustaining via costs recovered by offenders.

 

Solicitor Duffie Stone spoke and did a nice job introducing and explaining the free program, which helps businesses and individuals collect bad checks and prosecutes the check kiters. 

 

Businesses will find the program very easy to use. When a bank returns a check for NSF, the business fills out a very basic form and sends the form with the attached bad check to the Worthless Check Unit, and they take it from there. The Unit contacts the check writer and collects and disburses restitution to the business that accepted the check. It takes about 60 days and has about an 80% success rate. If the Unit can’t get restitution, they prosecute. They’ve recovered more than $350,000 in the two years that the program has operated in the 14th Circuit counties.

 

Because the Unit handles all the dirty work, the business doesn’t have to chase down and confront the check writer, wasting valuable time and taking the chance of alienating a customer.

 

One critical point that Solicitor Stone several times reinforced… Business owners should NEVER accept partial payment when collecting on a bad check, because that will make it impossible for the Unit to pursue collection and restitution. In fact, once the business submits a check to the Unit, the business should refer all contacts with the check writer to the Unit.

 

It’s nice to see our local government effectively working with and for small business. And, it’s nice to see the Chamber working with the Solicitor’s Office to get the word out to local businesses.

 

Contact the Worthless Check Unit at (843) 255-5880 for more information, a useful brochure that explains the program and to get the submission form that starts the process.

 

Submitted by:

Paul Jacobson, President

Mission Resources Group

info@mrgroup.biz  

Category: Productivity
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Grantseeking Activities Start to Stabilize, According to New Report

 Fairbanks, AK and Washington, DC – Grantseeking and related activities in the U.S. are on the rise, though not increasing enough to return to pre-recession levels, according to the findings of a recent survey on the state of grantseeking recently conducted by GrantStation and PhilanTech.

The State of Grantseeking 2011 is the second semi-annual informal survey of nonprofits conducted by GrantStation and PhilanTech. Between mid-January and early March 2011, GrantStation and PhilanTech invited nonprofit organizations throughout the country to participate in an online survey to help determine the present state of grantseeking.

 

“With well over 800 respondents representing nonprofits of different sizes and issue areas nationwide, these survey results provide a sense of the current trends in grantseeking and begin to shed light on the challenges nonprofit organizations face as we move into the second quarter of 2011,” said Cynthia Adams, CEO of GrantStation.

“There were a number of other interesting findings from the survey,” said Dahna Goldstein, Founder of PhilanTech, “but the issue that really stands out to me is that many nonprofits are starting to see their grantseeking activities – and the results of those activities – stabilize.”

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Mid-sized organizations relied the most on grant awards as a steady source of revenue.
  • Government grants make up the bulk of the funds awarded, but private funders continue to play a significant role.
  • Grant writing consumes an inordinate amount of staff time, with many organizations using word processing and spreadsheet programs for these often repetitive tasks.

The survey was open from January 17, 2011 until March 2, 2011, and received 867 complete responses. While nonprofit organizations of all sizes responded to the survey, the majority could be considered small to mid-sized organizations:

  • One third (34%) had one to five staff members.
  • Over half (59%) had budgets under $1,000,000.


“This survey and the corresponding report were intended to present a ground level look at the state of grantseeking,” said Ms. Adams. “Dahna and I are hosting a webinar on May 18th to discuss the findings of the survey and how GrantStation and PhilanTech’s tools can help address one of the key issues uncovered in the survey – the amount of staff time spent on grantseeking activities. We invite those who are interested in learning a little more about the state of grantseeking in the U.S. to join us.”

To download the full State of Grantseeking report click here.

Category: Grants
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We’ve been meeting with “businesses who serve businesses”… attorneys, bankers, accountants and senior Chamber of Commerce officials, as well as community leaders. 

 

We’ve asked two simple questions:

  • How’s business?
  • What do you hear from the businesses that you work with?

 

We’ve gotten two basic answers:

  • Business has definitely picked up and we’re almost back to where we were before everything crashed in 2008.
  • We’re cautiously optimistic that things will soon get back to “normal”, but we’re still hunkered down and don’t plan any major expansions.

 

So, is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Here’s what makes me cautiously optimistic…

The Lowcountry businesses that have survived have clearly learned to deliver their value proposition at a high level of efficiency. They’ve shaved their expenses, especially variable expenses, refinanced their capital assets and have “right-sized” their work forces and physical space, in other words, their capacity.

 

Lowcountry businesses are lean and mean, which means that they’re poised to optimize profitability for their level of business volume, and maybe a bit more.

 

We keep hearing about growing traffic, inquires and sales. So, the business food chain growth appears good and it looks like at least slow growth could sustain for the medium-term (1-3 years).

 

Here’s what troubles me…

The bankers tell us that they have money to lend, but are reluctant to lend it because bank management and the regulators currently put a higher value on “preservation of assets” (which means cash) than they do on profitability (which requires risk). So, most business loans remain very low risk- refinances to lower interest costs and small expansions of existing lines of business to reach the limits of existing capacity.

 

What we’re not seeing is financing of innovative ideas or new businesses, especially small start-ups, unless they’re new franchise locations or otherwise low-risk proven enterprises. The exceptions are relatively large ventures with great business plans that will create many jobs.

 

We’re also hearing a lot of “We just need to get back to where we were in 2007.” Not much ambition for new opportunities or growth, even from successful survivors.

 

I understand the reluctance to risk getting burned, but I’m worried that the extremely risk-adverse attitude from both businesses and banks could unduly constrain Lowcountry business growth.

 

As always, you can find exceptions. We’re working with two businesses, helping to develop and then execute their growth plans. Both have strong entrepreneur leadership and both have figured out strategies to fund their growth without conventional borrowing. Not surprising that creative strategic planning can perhaps provide the crucial difference between a stagnant business and a growing enterprise.

 

So…

  • What will it take for the banks to take reasonable risk and lend money on innovative ideas and small start-ups?
  • What will it take for already successful business people to regain the ambition, confidence and creativity to grow and expand into complimentary business areas?

 

What do you think? Please share your thoughts.

 

And, if you’re a creative Lowcountry entrepreneur wanting to grow an existing business, we want to hear from you. Please call 540-3759 or email info@mrgroup.biz.

 

Submitted by:  Paul Jacobson

                      President, Mission Resources Group

Copyright Mission Resources Group, 2011, All Rights Reserved

 

Category: MRG Editorials
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