Friday, December 8, 2006

The EDC acknowledges PRC

The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. has acknowledged -- albeit in a subtle way -- that a Florida company is bringing a 550-job call center to the city. A Dec. 7 EDC news release, which recapped the organization's 2006 successes in bringing new jobs to the area, included a mention that PRC of suburban Fort Lauderdale would open a call center in the Springs. But PRC wasn't part of an EDC ceremony a day earlier, which recognized new and expanding companies, and David White, the EDC's marketing vice president, wouldn't acknowledge PRC's expansion in the Springs. However, EDC Vice President Julie Boswell said the organization decided to include PRC in its new release that recapped new and expanding businesses after a Dec. 6 story in The Gazette outlined PRC's plans and quoted a company spokeswoman.

PRC, which operates call centers in several states and on behalf of Fortune 500 clients, announced in a Dec. 7 news release on its Web site that it would open a 400-job call center in southern Oklahoma. There's no news release yet regarding the Springs, but a PRC spokeswoman has acknowledged the company will open its Springs call center in early 2007 and lease space in the Tiffany Square office and retail building, southwest of Interstate 25 and Woodmen Road. PRC has set up an e-mail address for job inquiries: The company's Web site is

Having good credit can help you start your own business

A Small Business Administration report last month that found the introduction of credit scoring by banks for small business loans may help increase small business owners' or entrepreneurs' access to credit.

The SBA report showed that "the use of credit scoring can lead to risk-based pricing of loans which democratizes lending, meaning that riskier loans can now be made to start-ups or small business owners with little credit history," said Dr. Chad Moutray, chief economist for the Office of Advocacy with the SBA.

Still, you need to have a good credit history. Most banks in the Colorado Springs area look at a person's credit history when he/she comes to the bank for a small business loan, according to Matt Barrett, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Each bank is a little different, but someone with a credit rating of 700 and above will most likely have an easy time getting a business loan, Barrett said. Getting a loan with ratings from 700 to 680 is possible, and any person with rating below 680 would have a difficult time obtaining a small business loan.

If a business is doing well and the owner wants to take out a loan to expand, the bank will look at the books of the business and at the business owner's credit history for the past three years, according to Barrett.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Advice on Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a live Web chat on year-end tax planning for
small business owners11 a.m.-noon Dec. 14 through its Web site,

Thomas Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, will host the Web chat. Chat participants will receive information about the importance of year-end planning and steps small business owners can take to reduce their 2006 tax bills, and Ochsenschlager answers questions on year-end tax savings.

Participants can join the live Web chat by going to, and clicking “Online Business Chat.” Web chat participants should post questions for Ochsenschlager before the Dec. 14 chat by visiting

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The health of our state

The health of Colorado residents improved one notch this year, according to a national annual checkup by United Health Foundation. Colorado now ranks 16th in the nation, up from last year's 17th placement, for health.

Colorado Strengths:

Low prevalence of obesity, at 17.8 percent of the population.
Low rate of cancer deaths, at 180.6 deaths per 100,000 population.
Low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, at 274 deaths per 100,000

Limited access to adequate prenatal care, with 68.6 percent of pregnant
women receiving adequate prenatal care.
High rate of uninsured population, at 17 percent .
Low per capita public health spending, at $92 per person.

Significant changes:
In the past year, immunization coverage increased from 77.1 percent to 83.4 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations.
In the last year, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 11.7 percent to 14.7 percent of persons under age 18.
Since 1990, the prevalence of smoking decreased from 28.6 percent to 19.8 percent of the population.
Since 1990, the rate of uninsured population increased from 12.8 percent to 17 percent.

Business trivia for $200, please Alex....

Scrabble's big break came in the early 1950s, when the president of Macy's discovered it while on vacation and ordered it for his store. Within a year, clerks couldn't keep the game in stock. Macy's has two Colorado Springs stores, formerly Foley's.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Downtown shopping event to benefit CASA

Circle of Impact and a group of 18 downtown shop owners are staging a fundraising event for CASA of the Pikes Peak Region at 1-5 p.m. Dec. 10. All proceeds from a $20 shopping pass will go directly to CASA, which provides a volunteer's voice in court for children who are victims of abuse, neglect or domestic conflict. The shopping passes assure a 20 percent discount on purchases made at participating stores; restaurant discounts may vary. For more information call 365-1600.
Participating stores and restaurants:

  • Putogether
  • Kirk and Hill
  • Idoru
  • Guinea Pigg
  • William Kurtz
  • Phantom Canyon Brewery
  • SoleMates
  • Out of the Box
  • The Olive Branch
  • What's In Store
  • Novis Frame and Art
  • The Catbird Seat
  • Saboz
  • Seabel's
  • Jose Muldoons
  • Textures Gallery
  • My Jewelry Designer
  • The Ritz

Monday, December 4, 2006

Gourmet pizza chain eyes Springs' market

zpizza, a Southern California-based gourmet pizza chain (, is searching for a franchisee to develop multiple stores in the Colorado Springs territory, says company spokeswoman Katie Magers. The typical franchise agreement is between three and five units and usually the franchisee opens one store per year. The company, which is looking to open stores all over the state, has a particular interest in Colorado Springs, which was recently ranked number six in Men's Fitness magazine's annual Fittest Cities ranking. "We feel like zpizza is a perfect match for Colorado and its residents," said Chris Bright, zpizza president. "Locals in the state live healthy lifestyles and enjoy great food." zpizza currently has one franchised store open in Denver and another 60 locations open nationwide. The chain is looking to have more than 100 stores open by the end of 2007.

Workshops to help businesses grow

A Dec. 7-8 workshop on International Business Fundamentals at the Chamber of Commerce, 2 N. Cascade Ave., suite 110, is designed for the novice as well as the experienced exporter wanting to learn more about what is involved with making international shipments. Laura Pederson of First National Bank will lead discussions on documentation, export requirements, how to prepare a Proforma Invoice, foreign currency requirements and other related issues. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day with a cost of $150 for World Trade Center members and $170 for non-members. For further information contact the WTC at

... SCORE and Quest Communications are offering a free workshop 9-11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at 721 19th St., suite 246, to help business operators indentify their common telecom needs and "avoid common costly mistakes.

... Brian Maready, president of Leanbuilt and Richard Mather, vice president of operations at Current USA, will be the featured at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force, discussing the Lean Systems installation at Current. For location and details contact Dave Anderson at

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Learning about consumer rights the hard way

Gary Wood of Palmer Lake's Villa Pasta (see Springs & Co. in the Monday's Business Edge section in The Gazette) was not the only person to contact Melisa and Jim Rittenberg after they butted heads with a Best Buy store in St. Louis last week. Their experience in getting a box with pasta sauce, a phone cord and a plastic electrical outlet cover inside instead of the $1,600 Sony camcorder they had paid for, brought them calls from consumers all over the country who had suffered similar shopping mishaps and poor store response.

"This whole thing got blown out of proportion because of the way the store handled it," Melisa Rittenberg said. "The corporate headquarters was never contacted and the local store manager just said there was nothing they could do."

Sony did come through, shipping a camcorder to the Rittenbergs on Nov. 29, but the whole process was an eye-opener for the Perryville, Mo. couple. "Consumers often don't know what to do when these things happen. The most important things we learned are to open the box in the store and that there are steps you can take -- filing a police report, disputing the charges with your credit card company and contacting the state district attorney. You do have recourse."