3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Dec. 10

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

1. The Pope is on Twitter, are you? One week after the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter, more than 600,000 followers are waiting for the pontiff's first Tweet, expected on Dec. 12 (12/12/12).

The Pope's Twitter handle is @pontifex, a term that means "bridge builder" in Latin, according to The New York Times.

In his first series of tweets, Benedict is expected to answer questions about matters of faith, now being accepted via the hashtag #askpontifex.

"The pope's presence on Twitter can be seen as the 'tip of the iceberg' that is the church's presence in the world of new media," the Vatican said in a statement, according to the Times.

Wired takes a look at some of the best questions followers have already asked, including "life's more pressing issues like what will happen on Breaking Bad?"

2. Small businesses want grants, not loans, to help rebuild after Sandy. Taking on debt is one of the last things that small-business owners want to take on after a natural disaster destroys their business in an already challenging economy, but so far almost all of the recovery money being offered is in the form of loans (albeit with very low interest rates), The Daily Herald reports.

After the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, it was grants that saved many small businesses from failing. However, in the weeks following Superstorm Sandy, grant money has been scarce.

The money is particularly needed by cash-flow-dependent small businesses without large reserves.

New York City has announced $5.5 million in grants for small businesses from two not-for-profit organizations -- the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and the Partnership for New York City.

Other smaller grants are being doled out by various nonprofit groups, fundraising activity and even from one of the utilities serving New York City, the article says.

But considering the damage estimate for homes and businesses was put at $19 billion in New York City alone, the grant money won't go far.

On a positive note, National Grid is granting small businesses on Staten Island and in Brooklyn and Queens up to $250,000, part of a $30 million program that will also give grants to homeowners and other residential customers, the article says.

"These are for customers who have to make a big decision, do they reopen or shut down," Ken Daly, president of National Grid-New York, told the Daily Herald.

3. Franchisee hiring may halt if tax rates are extended. According to the International Franchise Association's annual Franchise Business Leader Survey, 79% of franchisees and 73% of franchisors believe failure by Congress to extend current tax rates will stall hiring and slow growth.

"What we need in this country is jobs, and the majority of that growth can come from the small-business and franchising community if we avoid diving over the fiscal cliff," said IFA CEO Steve Caldeira. "Congress and the administration must find a way to decrease spending and raise revenue without raising tax rates on job creators."

"While the president has been on a charm offensive with corporate CEOs, the interests of franchisees and other small businesses seem to be taking a back seat, despite his campaign rhetoric on the importance of small-business growth to the economic recovery," Caldeira adds. "What we need is for the small business community, which creates 65% of all net new jobs, to have a seat at the table in this debate."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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

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