Business Takes Center Stage as LouFest Cancels and Community Support is in the Spotlight

Financial issues and a wet weekend weather forecast are two of the reasons the producers of LouFest gave for leaving music fans and local businesses high and dry with just three days notice.

Just hours after the cancellation announcement, the Saint Louis community began organizing to minimize the impact on music lovers, entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by the LouFest cancellation.les_paul_guitar

Front Gate Tickets, the festival’s ticketing agent is set to refund music fans for their tickets. A two day pass for the event started at $105.00 and went up to $360.00 plus fees.

The artists and businesses taking part as vendors are not as lucky. Most have paid thousands of dollars in vending fees to be part of the festival and invested even more money in extra inventory to be ready for the fans in what was touted as the biggest festival ever with more than 40 acts.

A lot of extra food was ready to feed hungry fans. Local restaurants are working together with cross promotions and special events this week to minimize the impact.

Saint Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is urging people to get out and support area restaurants and music venues. She posted lists of the local artists, restaurants, brewers and craftspeople who are a part of the LouFest vending list on social media.

The St. Louis Brewers Guild also went to social media to appeal for support for the local hospitality community: “We are devastated to learn news that LouFest Music Festival has been cancelled just days before the event. We loved supporting this event and were thrilled to be working with their team to help create a local beer-focused footprint for the event this year with “BrewFest”. Our local breweries and restaurants have invested so much in terms of time, planning, sponsorship fees, brewing and packaging tons of beer, food ordering, promotion, and staffing and this is a huge blow. Please take a look at the lineups for both BrewFest and the Nosh Pit and go out of your way to show these folks some extra love if you can. Thank you for supporting our local beer and food scene.”

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Schlafly Beer designed a special commemorative can exclusively for the festival along with a special run of that beer. It is a big investment for the brewery.

Schlafly is also reaching out to LouFest attendees with a special offer; “We’re inviting all Loufest ticket-holders to join us Saturday, September 15 at the Schlafly Tap Room. Doors open at 11 a.m. with the tasting from noon to 4 pm. We will be offering 10% off tasting tickets starting today at 10 a.m. through this weekend for Loufest ticket holders here with the code ‘LOUFEST18’. Loufest ticketholders can also pick up a free commemorative can by showing their ticket stub, wristband, or receipt at either one of our brewpub location starting on Friday at 5 p.m. While supplies last and limit of one per ticket-holding customer.”

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Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters who were supposed to headline at LouFest will perform at The Pageant Sunday night. rock-concert-crowd_925x

Other alternative LouFest performances include two stages at the Grandel Theater in Grand Center from 2-10pm Sunday with more than a dozen bands scheduled to play. The event will be free and local vendors are invited to take part.

Retailers who invested money in LouFest are also a part of a pop up experience all weekend on Cherokee Street.

Arch Apparel, a Saint Louis based clothing manufacturer that created special LouFest branded merchandise is offering an alternative weekend event for fun and to support businesses. The ArchFest is an indoor event scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Arch Apparel’s showroom and warehouse at Watson Industrial Park in Crestwood. The warehouse block party will feature music and many of the vendors who were planning to be a LouFest. Want more information on #ArchFest? Check out Arch Apparel’s Event Page.

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To read the entire LouFest cancellation statement and view more of the participating vendors visit http://loufest.com/

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Small Business Tip: Green Videos & Free Going Green to Save Green Guide

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are driving innovation today…..literally! recycleSmall business owners and self-employed professionals are taking part in a two year test of hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles. Click here to hear from one of the test-drivers and see what the hydrogen fuel test cars look like.

Small business owners are also starting from the ground up in going green in business. Government incentives and energy savings are two reasons small business owners are choosing to build green. Click here to learn more about green building initiatives and incentives on the small business level.

Small business owners don’t have to remodel or redesign their facility to go green. Small changes can add up to big savings and impact in daily business procedures. Reduce, recycle and reuse can make a big difference for the environment and a small business budget. An added benefit of going green in business is your customers and community may note your efforts. One way to increase community awareness is featuring neat and well placed recycling bins to promote environmental awareness in your enterprise.

You may also consider teaming up with neighboring firms to reduce collection service costs and space needed for recycling and dumpsters. In many cases it can reduce the costs of your trash pick-up.

These are a few of the energy saving efforts around my office:

  • Minimize use of phantom-power devices with timers, unplug them when not in use, or plug such appliances and chargers into power strips and turn them off when not in use.
  • Switch to energy-saving compact fluorescent or LED lighting products.
  • Eliminate energy waste – locate leaks around windows, doors and other building features and install weatherization products.
  • Explore LED and other innovative energy-saving lighting options.
  • Maximize daylight in your business.
  • Install a water-filtration device on your drinking faucets instead of using bottled water – or just drink the tap water.
  • Purchase used or reconditioned office furniture or store fixtures.

There are also some great tips, techniques and initiatives in a new whitepaper for small business owners, titled, “How to Be Green and Stay Lean: How Being Sustainable Can Save Your Business Money.” The new report is the first in a multi-topic whitepaper series produced especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners by Sam’s Club. You can access the green whitepaper by clicking here.

Please follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events to give you a competitive edge in business at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood.

Fall Deadlines Near for Some Federal Stimulus Programs for Small Business

There is still time for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get their share of the federal economic stimulus money.  The government’s stimulus measures allow firms that incurred net operating losses in 2008 to carry them back five years instead of the standard two years.  This allows businesses to apply those losses against taxes paid in the past and obtain refunds. Companies that got extensions of the filing deadlines can still take advantage of this tax break.  You can find interviews and updates on this tax provision of the stimulus at http://www.sbtv.com/IRS. Eligible calendar year corporations have until September 15, 2009 and eligible individuals have until October 15, 2009 to choose the expanded carry-back option.

Another stimulus benefit for small business is an expanded Section 179 deduction, which allows small enterprises to deduct up-front rather than depreciate the cost of equipment such as computers, furniture, manufacturing machines and vehicles, up to $250,000.  You will find much more detailed information at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/index.html

Another part of the federal stimulus effort is an online training course to increase small business participation in federal contracting.  The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering the free instruction after small business contracting fell short again.  The free course, “Recovery Act Opportunities: How to Win Federal Contracts,” is available at www.sba.gov/fedcontractingtraining.

Looking for small business news and tips?  Please consider following me on Twitter to learn more about small business issues and events to give you a competitive edge.  Just go to http://twitter.com/danitablackwood and click the “follow” button.

Want to Be Your Own Boss and Own Your Own Business? Start-Up Help & Money for Veterans

Are you a U.S. military veteran? An ever-growing number of U-S military veterans are returning home and joining the ranks of entrepreneurship.

In fact, veterans account for 14 percent of small businesses nationally, according to recent research from the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee. More than five million veteran entrepreneurs continue to serve the nation, their community and neighbors as job creators and innovators.  Military service helps prepare these business owners for owning their own firms by providing them valuable training and experience.

Military vets are traditionally a good fit in small business because:

  • Vets are often self-starters with a demonstrated solid work ethic
  • Vets are leaders with experience in managing others
  • Vets military experience has trained them to be results-oriented and operate within a set of rules that translates well to a business model

Now the Army is helping with the start-up funds to buy a small business or franchise too with an innovative benefit for many veterans.  The Army Advantage Fund will provide up to $40,000 after completing military service to start a business.  The amount a veteran receives depends on length of service.  To learn more about buying a business with the Army Advantage Fund click here.

Many military veterans choose to invest in a franchise to become a business owner.  The International Franchise Association or IFA has a program to help military veterans; “The Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative” or “VetFran” program. Due to the wide variety and size of franchised-small businesses, the financial incentives offered are determined by the companies to allow maximum flexibility.  Most offer reduced initial franchise fees.  The IFA does not receive government funding for the initiative. More than 1,200 vets have become business owners through the program.

A current list of participating companies and the discounts is available at the IFA website, http://www.franchise.org, under “VetFran Directory.  The IFA also offers a veterans’ scholarship program to encourage a qualified veteran to pursue his or her education focused on entrepreneurial studies.  To learn more about the IFA Educational Foundation offerings for veterans click here.

The U.S. Military and the IFA both participate in a variety of outreach and support events around the United States every year to help military veterans become small business owners.  Click here to see a short video from SBTV.com on what services are available.