Small business weekly: Minimum wage, maximizing loans and expensive limes


The lime has skyrocketed in price in recent weeks, quadrupling or, in some areas, going even higher — and that’s bad news for bar owners. (AP/AP)

A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a special focus on Washington.

SBA slammed: During a hearing last week, Democrats and Republicans on the House Small Business Committee ripped into the Small Business Administration for creating several new entre­pre­neur­ship training programs that have not been approved by Congress while pulling back on some of its long-standing counseling programs. (OSB)

Nation’s job engine? While employers as a whole posted strong job gains last month, small businesses are still struggling to pick up the pace. Hiring by small companies was flat in April, according to the latest readings by ADP, while their share of the nation’s total job gains declined for the fourth consecutive month. (OSB)

Mimimum wage splits businesses: Senate Republicans last week blocked legislation from moving forward that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.00 per hour. Some small business owners say the legislation would cripple their companies by driving up labor costs, while others strongly favor raising the floor on wages. (OSB)

Cranking up the pace: American manufacturing grew faster in April than in March as exports picked up and factories accelerated hiring. That’s a good sign after what was a dismal start to the year for that sector — and really, for the economy as a whole, which ground to a halt during the first quarter. (AP)

Fed moves forward: Despite that rough start to the year, the Federal Reserve last week announced plans last week to scale back its support for the economy by another $10 billion, reaffirming its confidence in the recovery as the central bank looks to wind down its trillion-dollar stimulus program. (WP)

Boomer business down: The percentage of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 who are self-employed has declined from18 percent in 1994 to 14 percent in 2012, according to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. Researchers say the trend is partly due to baby boomers transitioning out of self-employment to take new jobs. (WBJ)

A big promise to small firms: Wells Fargo last week announced a goal of lending at least $100 billion to small businesses over the next five years, hoping to capitalize on an uptick in confidence on Main Street. The bank is also expanding its financial guidance offerings for employers on topics like regulatory compliance. (AP)

Virginia looking to lend, too: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced last week that the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority has secured an additional $5.9 million from the U.S. Treasury Department, which the state will use to support banks that lend to and invest in small businesses. (WP)

Helping hand: Some unlikely parternerships between large and small companies are making a big difference for small businesses, which often struggle with a lack of funding and experience. Here’s a look at how one lingerie business got a lift from one of the country’ biggest retail companies. (AP)

Hitting their bottom lime: A citrus disease that struck Florida more than a decade ago and recent drug cartel activity in Mexico are making business a little more expensive for bar owners in the United States. (WP)

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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