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Welcome to Main Street Morning, The Washington Post’s daily collection of news affecting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses, with a special focus on policy and government.

Here’s what’s affecting my small business, my clients and other entrepreneurs today.

Washington

•  The Federal Reserve may raise interest rates before inflation picks up.

•  A Republican bill to change how the Affordable Care Act defines a full work-week would raise the deficit by $53.2 billion over the next decade and leave more Americans uninsured, according to one analysis.

•  President Obama wants to slash the fees the federal government charges to guarantee mortgages.

•  The House approves new legislation that would exempt smaller companies from providing health coverage to some veterans.

•  Republicans have given themselves a new tax-cutting magic wand.

•  A record 43 percent of U.S. voters call themselves independent.

Red Tape

•  The meat industry’s worst nightmare could soon become a reality.

The Economy

•  Small businesses added more than a million workers in 2014, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. 

•  The U.S. trade deficit reached an 11-month low.

Franchises

•  The International Franchise Association says it expects franchises to add 247,000 jobs this year, a growth rate of 2.9 percent, which would be the fifth consecutive year that the franchise model outperformed other industries.

People

•  A welder with a two year degree and special skills earns $140,000 per year.

•  Worker productivity can jump 30 percent when it’s for a good cause, according to a study.

•  A Washington state company is fined $199,000 for 16 safety violations related to the death of a worker last July.

•  Customers surprise a beloved bagel shop worker with a car.

Start-up

•  A new service maps start-ups, accelerators and co-working spaces around the globe.

Finance

•  The Lending Club and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce form a partnership to aid women-owned businesses.

Retail

•  A once-popular teen fashion retailer is going out of business.

•  J.C. Penney proves its skeptics wrong with a holiday sales surprise.

Marketing

•  A marketing professor chooses the five best ads of 2014 (and two of the worst).

•  Here are some things that you can cut from your marketing in 2015.

Online

•  Web.com will sponsor 60 plus free Internet marketing seminars for small business owners in 2015.

•  A digital marketing expert concludes that search engine optimization is still relevant because “…when everyone is creating content, somehow you’re going to need to get that content seen, and search optimization (organic or paid) is perhaps still the best way to do so.”

Entrepreneurs

•  An entrepreneur debuts her new exercise pants.

Social Media

•  A teen tweets his need for toilet paper while on a train…and gets it delivered.

Opportunities

•  Amazon reportedly plans a new platform for inventors.

•  Scientists have found a new class of antibiotics in soil bacteria.

•  Recent drone campaigns on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have blown fundraising goals out of the water.

•  3D printing-as-a-service may be the future of the growing 3D printing industry, according to a Staples executive.

Technology

•  BlackBerry unveils a cloud-based internet of things platform.

•  A little company in Utah makes a “beast” of a smartphone.

•  Apple’s new MacBook Air may come with no ports.

•  Small business owners looking to ditch traditional credit card readers have more options than ever.

Around the Country

•  The price of recreational marijuana has dropped 40 percent in the state of Washington.

•  Boston boasts the top ranking of healthiest places in America, according to a survey.

•  New York City suspends Uber bases until they hand over trip records.

•  A Missouri business owner comes to the rescue of a kitten stuck in a tree.

•  A Raleigh inn owner wants Airbnb rentals to be regulated and taxed.

•  Some business owners in Phoenix are complaining about the city’s smoking ban.

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. Follow Gene Marks and On Small Business on Twitter. 

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