A look back at some of the biggest small business and start-up stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.

SEC lifts advertising ban for start-ups:The Securities and Exchange Commission last week voted to allow start-ups to start advertising their securities offerings directly to potential investors, a major step forward in the implementation of last year’s JOBS Act.

Small business hiring stuck in summer doldrums: Small firms slimmed down for the second straight month in June as employment fell by an average of 0.09 workers per firm, even as the economy expanded, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Retail sales surge: In June, retail stores posted their greatest sales gain since the first month of the year, up 3.9 percent over the same month last year, according to a national survey of retailers that have been in business for more than a year.

Hopes for immigration deal fade in the House: House Republicans last week met to discuss the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate. Coming out of the meeting, they denounced the legislation and announced plans to continue working on immigration piece-by-piece.

Federal government shorts small contractors: Only 22.25 percent of federal contracting dollars went to small firms last year, short of the 23 percent goal set by Congress, according to the Small Business Administration — the12th straight year officials have missed the mark.

Senate rookie pushing startup investments: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) last week introduced her first piece of legislation in the chamber, the Small Business Innovation Act, which would create a new fund intended to provide more capital to new and young businesses.

Middle East leading the way for female entrepreneurs: More than a third of Internet entrepreneurs in the Middle East are female, markedly higher than the global average of 10 percent, according to data from research and software firm Startup Compass.

Most states moving forward with multi-choice option: Though the federal government will not offer the option on its small business health care exchange next year, most states setting up their own exchanges are planning to allow employers to choose a variety of plans for their firms.

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

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