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Tap into often-overlooked help from the feds

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in Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

It may be the punch line to an old joke, but it can also be a valuable message that small business owners overlook.

More than 90 percent of small businesses have never received any kind of federal-agency support, according to a new American Management Services survey.

The main reason: They don’t know where to start.

But you can gain some practical, easy-to-access help from federal agencies (and you’re already paying for it via taxes, so you might as well use it).

Here’s where to start:

Government auctions. Bid for repossessed commercial property, machinery, equipment, furniture and inventory from small businesses that failed to repay loans. Go to www.sba.gov/assets.html.

Recruiting assistance. Post job openings and search thousands of résumés on a national database of job-seekers at www.careeronestop.org.

Safety training. Train one person through OSHA’s Outreach Training Program and that person is qualified to train everyone in the workplace. OSHA authorizes anyone who completes its one-week course to teach classes on construction or general industry safety. To find training in your area, go to www.dol.gov/dol/topic/training/safety.htm.

Loan assistance. Do one-stop shopping for federal loan programs at www.govloans.gov (click on Browse All Loans).

International trade financing. Find several resources for small businesses at www.sba.gov/oit/finance.

Assistance in fighting Uncle Sam. Learn how to file a complaint with the appropriate agency about unfair audits, regulatory enforcement or fines at www.sba.gov/ombudsman.

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