3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Nov. 20

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

1. More consumers plan to shop "small" on Small Business Saturday. Consumers will be out in force this Saturday for American Express' ( AXP) Small Business Saturday.

The Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, conducted by American Express OPEN and the National Federation of Independent Business, polled 1,000 consumers between Nov. 7-12 of their shopping plans.

Two-thirds of those surveyed plan to buy from local businesses on Nov. 24, the day designated for Small Business Saturday. (Forty-four percent said they shopped at a small business for last year's event.)

>>>Small Business Saturday Set to Catapult Local Shops

The survey found that a majority plan to spend more money than they did last year, averaging about $100 each on Small Business Saturday.

In response, thousands of small businesses around the country are planning special offers, partnering with neighboring businesses and hosting events to support the small-business shopping day.

The survey also found: ¿
The top five places that consumers plan to shop on Small Business Saturday are restaurants (52%), bakeries (35%), clothing stores (34%), gift shops (31%) and book shops (29%). ¿
The No. 1 reason that consumers plan to support small businesses is because they value their contributions to the community (76%). The No. 2 reason was better customer service (59%). ¿
Half of those planning to shop on Small Business Saturday will bring a friend. ¿
Two-thirds plan to eat out at small, independently owned restaurants. ¿
Word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers find small, independently owned shops and restaurants in their communities (79%).

Small-business owners can go to a section on the NFIB's website to submit information about their business and why shoppers should visit on Nov. 24, which will be promoted by the NFIB on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Now in its third year, the movement is gaining steam. More than 200 advocacy groups, 60 public officials and 70 corporate partners have signed on to endorse the campaign, according to the Shop Small website.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, will organize Small Business Saturday events through their local member chambers. To date, nearly 50 member chambers have rallied businesses in their communities and will host local activities leading up to and on Nov. 24, where attendees will have the opportunity to pick up tote bags, and to get American Express Shop Small gift cards as part of a community-activation program.

2. Small Business Administration looking for tech innovators to provide a "non-electric heating solution" in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The SBA has an urgent call for innovation. According to an email notice sent by the SBA on Tuesday, the agency has asked Defense Alliance, a company that has been awarded an SBA grant, to help small businesses get government contracting jobs through the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and others "to put out a call to our membership for an urgent technology need in the wake of Hurricane Sandy."

The SBA is looking for technology that is a single-room heater (not a hand-warmer or a full house heater); is portable and low-cost; is commercially available; is non-electric; and safe indoors.

Small businesses that have a potential solution should email the Defense Alliance's executive director, Chip Laingen, at: claingen@defensealliance.com. The email should include: a one-page description of the technology/product; a technical description; the cost per unit; the time to delivery; and the name of company/organization and contact information.

3. Downtown Alliance launches campaign to help struggling Lower Manhattan small businesses. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Downtown Alliance launched on Monday the Lower Manhattan: Back to Business Small Business Grant Program, a campaign that intends to award more than $1 million in cash grants to small businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy. The Downtown Alliance will make an additional investment of $325,000 to promote a holiday campaign to support restaurants and retailers located in the affected area.

The campaign has some big supporters behind it including Goldman Sachs ( GS), Citigroup ( C), Trinity Church, The Durst Organization and The Howard Hughes Corp.

The grants will offer support of up to $20,000 to small businesses meeting the following requirements: ¿ Located in Flood Zone A;¿ 50 or fewer employees;¿ Gross annual revenues of $5 million or less;¿ Open for at least a year (or have a 5-year lease);¿ Open at the time of application, or, for those located in buildings closed for storm-related reasons, scheduled to open by April 2013 (grants to be paid upon reopening); and¿ Able to document loss and replacement costs not covered 100% by insurance or other reimbursement for property, equipment or inventory loss, or loss due to street closures, lack of utility service or related conditions.

Applications will be available beginning Dec. 1.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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

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