NEW YORK (
) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. Amazon embraces state sales tax.
After years of resistance,
(AMZN - Get Report)
will double the number of states it collects sales tax in over the next 18 months, according to
Starting July 1, Texas will be the first of eight states, followed by Pennsylvania and California in September.
The risk Amazon takes is whether customers will continue to shop on the retail giant's website as its lack-of-sales-tax advantage over bricks and mortar retailers vanishes.
Amazon is making the changes under duress, according to
. As states face budget shortfalls, they are looking for ways to increase revenue and Amazon seemed to be an obvious target.
The online retailer has been able to avoid charging state sales tax because it does not have offices or warehouses in most states. Amazon has only collected sales tax in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington. The
requires that only companies with a physical presence in a state may collect sales tax, which offline merchants have criticized for years.
Recently the retailer began to compromise its position with states by agreeing to begin collecting sales tax, but at a later date, extended by months or, in some cases, years. The company has also agreed to open warehouses and create jobs in most of the deals.
2. Agriculture technology start-up raises $17 million.
Technology innovation has traditionally been lackluster in the agriculture industry, but tech start-up Solum is looking to change that pattern, according to
The company's technology "obtains high-level soil nutrient information through hardware and software solutions previously unavailable to the agricultural community," the article says.
Solum just completed a $17 million series B round of financing led by Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, which might put Solum in pole position to shake up the "ag-tech space,"
Andreessen Horowitz typically makes investments in social media companies, so the shift could mean that Solum is on to something.
"We're creating data that improves the livelihood of farmers and is really good for the environment," Solum CEO Nick Koshnick tells
3. Some furniture retailers are breathing a sigh of relief.
After the housing crisis forced many furniture stores to close, furniture sales in the Baltimore area appear to be rebounding, according to the
Several local and national furniture merchants are seeing opportunity in the area, including HomeGoods, the home furnishings and décor chain owned by
The TJX Cos.
(TJX - Get Report)
, which plans to open a store in August. Ashley Furniture and
(HVT - Get Report)
recently opened locations there, while smaller outlets also say demand is rising.
The article notes that the housing market crash led to new ideas and new retail concepts, as customers look for affordable ways to customize furniture, which may not be for new homes, but to refresh what they already have.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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