Get Started: Bill would speed up contract payment process

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG Markets Associated Press

SMALL BUSINESS LEGISLATION

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Small businesses could be paid faster for work done on some federal contracts under a bill approved last week by the House Small Business Committee. The Small Business Payment for Performance Act requires federal agencies to make interim payments on contracts when a small business contractor has requested an increase in compensation.

Some agencies routinely delay the approval process for higher fees until the end of the project, postponing payment and placing a financial burden on small businesses, says committee member Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who introduced the bill. The higher fees are part of a process known as change orders, a common occurrence on contracts in the private sector as well as between businesses and the government.

The bill now goes to the full House. In recent years, small business contracting bills have become law as part of Pentagon spending bills. It's too early to tell if that will be the case with this bill.

The committee also approved and sent to the full House two bills that would make more investment money available for small businesses. One bill, the Small Business Investment Opportunity Act, increases to $175 million from $150 million the amount of money that funds known as Small Business Investment Companies can each invest in U.S. small businesses. The second bill, the Investing in Main Street Act, raises to 15 percent from 5 percent the maximum amount of a bank's capital or surplus funds that can be invested in small businesses.

GENERATIONAL DIVIDE

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Whether they're baby boomers, Generation Xers or millennials, most people tend to work more with people in their own age group than in others. That's the finding of a survey released by U.S. Trust, a wealth management company. Ninety percent of boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, worked with people their own age. Among Xers, born from the mid-1960s to the mid-'80s, nearly 80 percent are working with their own age group. And of millennials, in their 20s and 30s, 82 percent are working with their cohorts.

But nearly half of those surveyed said they work with people in at least three generations; that's partly due to the fact that many baby boomers prefer to keep working, U.S. Trust says. That apparently causes some animosity — more than half the millennials said they can't advance in their careers because older people stay longer in their jobs than they should. Nearly a third of Xers made that complaint.

HOW TO COMMUNICATE?

Small businesses can connect with their customers through a variety of digital methods, including email, text and video. How a company uses each method can determine whether it builds a relationship with a customer. SCORE, the organization that gives free counseling to small businesses, is sponsoring an online seminar about digital communication on Thursday, June 29 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can learn more and register at http://bit.ly/2pPs0Ic .

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joyce-m-rosenberg