Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chambers set luncheon schedules

* The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce meets Tuesday at noon at Froso's. For more information, call 262-9814.

* The Kenai Chamber of Commerce meets Wednesday at noon at the Kenai Merit Inn. John Torgerson of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District will discuss GAP survey results. For more information, call 283-7989.

Zak appointed examiner for 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Bryan Zak, Regional Director for the South West Alaska Small Business Development Center located on the Kenai Peninsula, has been appointed by Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Director of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to the 2010 Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The award, created by public law in 1987, is the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive.

As an examiner, Zak is responsible for reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for the award. The board is composed of approximately 500 leading experts selected from industry, professional and trade organizations, education and health care organizations, and nonprofits (including government).

Those selected meet the highest standards of qualification and peer recognition. All members of the board must take part in a preparation course based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the scoring and evaluation processes for the Baldrige Award.

USDA Rural Development increases housing loan limit

The limit for the maximum value of homes financed through the 502 Rural Housing Loan Program has been raised to $213,000.00 on the Kenai Peninsula. Through this program, eligible low income applicants may qualify for a direct, subsidized loan to purchase a new or existing home which meets program standards. Home loans for purchase do not require a down payment or mortgage insurance. The current interest rate is 4.875 percent before subsidy.

Rural Development also has a program available to provide needed home repairs and fund energy efficiency improvements for current home owners. Income eligible homeowners may qualify for long term home repair loans up to $20,000 at a 1 percent interest rate. Grants up to $7,500 are available for senior home owners, age 62 and up to complete repairs for weatherization; to improve health and safety standards; or improve accessibility.

Interested applicants may contact the USDA Rural Development Office at 110 Trading Bay Road, Suite 160, Kenai, AK, 99611; or call 907-283-6640, ext. 4 to find out if you qualify to purchase a home.

IRS accepting applications for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic grants

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the opening of the 2011 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) grant application process. Applications must be submitted no later than July 16.

The LITC grant program is a federal program administered by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, led by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson. The LITC program serves individuals who have problems with the IRS and whose incomes do not exceed 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The LITC program also provides outreach and education to taxpayers who speak English as a second language (ESL). LITCs are independent from the IRS. Most LITCs can provide representation before the IRS or in court on audits, tax collection disputes and other issues for free or for a nominal fee. Many clinics provide multilingual information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities.

Under the LITC grant program, the IRS awards matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to develop, expand or maintain low income taxpayer clinics. The program is in its twelfth year and continues to expand. To date, the LITC Program Office has awarded grants to 160 organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Examples of qualifying organizations include:

* Clinical programs at accredited law, business or accounting schools whose students represent low-income taxpayers in tax disputes with the IRS, and

* Organizations exempt from tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(a) that represent low-income taxpayers in tax disputes with the IRS or refer those taxpayers to qualified representatives.

The grant will cover the 2011 grant cycle, from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011. Applications must be electronically filed, postmarked, sent by private delivery service or hand-delivered to the LITC Program Office in Washington, D.C. by July 16.

Copies of the 2011 Grant Application Package and Guidelines, IRS Publication 3319 (Rev. 5-2010), are available at www.irs.gov/advocate. Applicants may also order application packages from the IRS Distribution Center by calling 1-800-829-3676. Applicants may file electronically at www.grants.gov. Those applying electronically should use the Funding Number TREAS-GRANTS-052011-001.

Free document shred event comes to the Kenai Peninsula

The Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington will host a Secure Your ID Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo in Soldotna on July 17. Consumers will be the first line of defense against identity theft as they shred sensitive, personal documents for free and take home scam and identity theft prevention tips.

In 2009, over 278,000 people filed identity theft complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel Network report. Victims of identity theft usually spend an average of 44 hours and $500 repairing damage, according to FTC reports. Taking the time to destroy personal documents now can help prevent hassle and cost later.

Drive up and drop off up to three grocery bags or file boxes of unwanted documents (no cardboard or three-ring binders). Items will be securely shredded on-the-spot by Shred Alaska for free. Any unwanted or outdated documents that contain personal information should be shredded when disposing, including: credit card applications, insurance paperwork, health forms and financial statements. To learn how long to keep specific personal records, go to http://www.protectyouridnow.org/RecordsRetention.cfm.

For details visit www.alaska.bbb.org/secure-your-id.

Small business development center plans business fair

A Small Biz Fair is planned to help business owners revitalize and expand business opportunities.

Bryan Zak of Alaska SBDC and local businesses and experts will devote June 25 to give you tips to grow your marketing proficiency by learning new ideas and to network. Especially with so much competition that surrounds us, find answers to gain more marketing skills, such as: Do you know what your customer wants? Do you know who will buy your product? Do you know why they will? Are you marketing techniques working? Are there affordable venues?

Sign in at 8:30 a.m. at the Alaska Christian College; the first presentations start at 9 a.m. To register online by June 18 deadline, go to http://aksbdc.ecenterdirect.com to get all the details or email Bunny for more info inblk@uaa.alaska.edu.

After lunch, our community businesses will share their methods with you and later, attendees will be able to visit their table to ask questions or buy their product or services. Only those who are registered will be allowed to participate in the Biz Fair.

Submit business briefs to news@peninsulaclarion.com



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