A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.
Obama lauds small businesses: During his State of the Union address, President Obama reaffirmed his faith in and reliance on small employers to lead the economic recovery, praising them for creating most of the nation’s new jobs and outlining steps his administration hopes to take this year to help them increase sales and add jobs. However, after the speech, some small business owners questioned whether some of the items on the president’s agenda would actually help their companies. (WP)
Small business scores Super Bowl commercial: On Sunday, GoldieBlox, an small business in Oakland, Calif., watched as its commercial appeared alongside those of the world’s largest corporations during the Super Bowl. The company, which produces toys designed to teach early engineering skills to young girls, won a nationwide contest hosted and financed by business software company Intuit. (WP)
CMS expects Obamacare enrollment by small firms to be “modest”: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials reportedly expect small-business enrollment in the new health care plans to be “modest” until the federal government’s online exployer exchange is fully launched later this year. In November, the administration pushed back the launch date for the second time, this time to November 2014. (HILL)
Maryland OKs health care offerings for small businesses: State officials in Maryland last week signed off on a plan to allow small businesses to offer new small business health plans under the health care law’s guidelines and access new federal tax credits in the law. However, the state once again pushed back the launch of its small-business insurance exchange Web site, this time to January of 2015, meaning small employers will have to buy plans directly from carriers, administrators or brokers until next year. (BS)
HSBC ups international business loan commitment: Citing higher-than-expected demand, HSBC has announced that it will double the size of an international business loan program for small businesses the bank launched in July. Originally, the company committed $1 billion to the program, which targets firms looking to export, import or simply expand operations overseas. Having already run through those funds, HSBC is adding another $1 billion to the program. (BB)
SBA lifts ban on local small-business contractor: The Small Business Administration has removed a federal contracting ban on Tysons Corner-based MicroTechnologies LLC after the company’s top executive agreed to temporarily give up day-to-day control of the company. The executive, Anthony R. Jimenez, is under investigation for allegedly lying about the large firm’s ownership and operations in order to win contracts reserved for small businesses. (WP)
Are Illinois business owners perfectly content? Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn plans to create a new position for a “small business advocate” who will work to address regulatory complaints from the state’s small employers. Only one problem — they don’t appear to have any complaints. A new report shows that the states’s business development agency has received zero complaints from small firms about state regulations. (PG)
What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.