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TheStreet Open House

Obamacare and the Next Tech Boom, Plus Two Other Things to Know About Small Business Today

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Obamacare could spark next tech boom. As states sign on to begin the process of building out their own health-care exchanges, opportunities are growing for technology firms, according to CNBC.

Beyond the establishment of the exchanges, states will spend the next five years upgrading infrastructure "that links to the payment and data systems of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, or CMS (content management system)," the CNBC article says.

Since no one company can provide infrastructure and services, big tech firms like IBM have been acquiring or partnering with specialized firms.

2. Some businesses are already feeling the pain from the fiscal cliff. Marie DeNicola, owner of Mainstream Boutique, a Minneapolis-based women's clothing chain with 23 franchised stores, says she's already had one potential franchisee change her mind about opening a store because of the uncertainty of the economic and political climate.

"It was like a punch in the stomach," DeNicola told Fosters.com "It's a little scary -- because of the unknown, small businesses aren't waiting until January or February to see what happens. People are reacting now."

Businesses are also concerned about tightened consumer spending as a result of the pending expiration of payroll tax cut.

Greg Jones, CEO of Bookkeeping Express and owner of three Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises in Florida, wonders if customers who normally stop in three times a week will cut that back to once or resort to cheaper options like McDonald's.

Jones wants to open two more stores but says if existing restaurants aren't profitable enough, he won't get the money he needs to expand, according to the article.

Business owner Edna Abernathy worries about the payroll tax cut impact to her staff, who will be essentially taking a pay cut from it. She hopes to make up the lost money by bringing in more business, which means going after new market share.

"It's disheartening. Normally we look at the new year with a lot of enthusiasm," she says.

3. A partnership between the Small Business Administration and private investors has gotten millions into the hands of New Jersey small firms. According to an article on NJBIZ.com, the SBA's program that approves privately owned investment firms under its SBIC (small business investment companies) program made 120 investments totaling $150 million in New Jersey businesses between October 2011 and September 2012.

Nationwide, SBICs provided $3 billion in capital to more than 1,000 small businesses, NJBIZ.com said, citing the SBA.

The program licensed 30 new SBIC funds over the past year, increasing the program's total investment by 17% over 2011 and 83% over 2010 to report its third consecutive record-breaking year, the article says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

>To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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