Here's a break down of the top news stories impacting small businesses.
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In late August, top economists and central bankers from around the world gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for the Federal Reserve's 35th annual symposium. Once again, the mood in the Grand Tetons was one of unease and at the top of the agenda was helping small businesses. The policymakers grappled with how to alleviate uncertainty in the markets to entice small businesses to start borrowing money again to grow and create jobs.
Uncertainty was a major theme in August. The latest economic report from the National Small Business Association found that 88% of small businesses are anticipating a flat or recessionary economy -- the highest percentage in two years. The report also found 64% of small business owners feel confident about the future of their business, down from 66% in December 2010. The online survey polled 400 small businesses across America.
Retirement Rules Changing
As sponsors of retirement plans, small businesses assume many responsibilities as their employees age, often acting as fiduciaries. Over the next year, employers offering such plans face new regulations from the Department of Labor. New retirement rules, known as 408(b) (2) for small businesses, were scheduled to go into effect in July, but have been postponed until April 2012. Supporters of the new regulations say they will bring greater transparency to the retirement industry by documenting the fees participants pay brokers and retirement plan contractors for managing their accounts.
Irene Deals a Blow
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Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast in the last week of August, devastating some businesses and bringing a boon to others. Initially a Category 1 hurricane and eventually a tropical storm, Irene left her mark. The short-term impact will include some businesses having to clean up from flooding and other damages while the longer-term impact will include rebuilding and making up for postponed business activity. And while no one doubts the strength of the entrepreneur community, it’s important to get small businesses back up and running, since they are responsible for 70% on new job creation.