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This bank will take cheese as collateral

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Equipment. Real estate. Accounts receivable. Inventory. These are all good forms of collateral if your business is looking for a bank loan.  But if you’re finding yourself a little short of these assets maybe you can make up the difference with a little cheese.

Cheese happens to be an acceptable form of collateral if you’re seeking a loan from Credito Emiliano bank in Italy. Take Mauro Rossi, for example. His small business – Gavesetto – produces about 20,000 “wheels” of Parmigiano-Reggiano (the so-called “king of cheese”) in the Emiliano region of Italy every year. Read More…

Will driverless trucks pass these guys by?

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

It looks like “an aerodynamic white box” on wheels, according to Fast Company. That’s a fair description. But it’s really a new type of vehicle being tested by Swedish start-up Einride and it could soon disrupt the transportation industry.

It’s called the “T-Pod”. It has no seats, no windows…and no driver. It is self-driving. It can also be controlled remotely, runs entirely on electricity and can go as far as 124 miles while hauling up to 20 tons of freight before needing another charge. Oh, and it’s quiet and pollution-free. Read More…

80 Philly businesses are now accepting ‘iBuyBlack’ discount card

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Money generated in the black community doesn’t stay there very long, and some business owners in Philadelphia, a city with about 650,000 African-American residents, are trying to change that – with a unique twist on an old marketing idea: discount cards.

Late last year, I wrote about how Black Lives Matter, the activist group, had launched a website to help people easily find and patronize black-owned businesses.

Now, Michael Rashid, a former healthcare chief executive,  and several African-American community leaders and business owners in Philadelphia have come up with their own plan to increase the revenues of black-owned businesses which they hope will then keep more money in the community. Read More…

Everett, Wash., wants bikini baristas to cover up

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Washington State could arguably be called the epicenter of the modern coffee revolution. The state is chock full of coffee shops — both chains and local mom and pops. The undisputable king of coffee chains — Starbucks — is headquartered in Seattle, a city that was, not surprisingly, ranked recently as the country’s best city for coffee based on factors that included the number of highly rated coffee shops on Yelp and the number of roasting facilities in each location. I think it’s safe to say that Washington is a coffee drinking state.

But if you’re a coffee entrepreneur in Everett, Wash., a city of about 100,000 people located 25 miles north of Seattle, you may find that there’s something else brewing. The town is pushing to ban bikini baristas. Read More…

Two small business owners ‘hide’ 800 employees…and now could owe millions

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

If you’ve ever tempted to monkey around with your company’s payroll records, please…don’t. It’s really not worth it. The story of Hyok “Steven” Kwon and Woo “Stephanie” Kwon in the San Diego Union-Tribune is a very good example why.

The married couple own a firm that allegedly provided housekeeping and janitorial workers to some of the swankiest hotels in the San Diego area. Read More…

More retail stores have closed in 2017 than at the same point in 2008

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

The bad news for the retail industry is coming fast and furious these days. Big names are shuttering stores or going out of business.

Add it all up and more than 2,880 retail stores have been closed this year to date, a pace that is running ahead of the same point during 2008’s recession, according to a recent Bloomberg report. What’s worse is that the future isn’t looking any brighter. Read More…

A trade dispute threatens to put dozens of dairy farms out of business next month.

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

One of the products Grassland Diary Products, a century-old, family-owned business based in Greenwood, Wis. sells is ultra-filtered milk, a “protein concentrate used to make cheese” and it sells a lot of it to its customers in Canada. But, according to this report in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel…not for long.

Starting in May, the company’s products will no longer be allowed to enter Canada duty-free, thanks to complaints made by Canadian farmers who compete in the space. They are insisting that existing trade rules be enforced and Grassland’s milk get taxed. The governments in Ontario and other provinces have agreed. Read More…