Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
The start-up case for immigration reform. A bill before Congress could gain the bipartisan support it needs to ease restrictions on foreign-owned start-ups, the Wall Street Journalreports. The StartUp Visa Act would grant a green card to any immigrant entrepreneur whose new business attracts at least $100,000 in venture capital or angel backing out of a total of $250,000 in equity financing, while creating five new jobs within two years. While the climb may sound steep, it's a step back from the current EB-5 visa, which requires businesses to have an investment of $1 million and employ at least 10 workers. Since less than half of the allotted 10,000 EB-5 visas were issued last year, lawmakers will unite to scale back the demands for immigrants. The Small Business Administration says they are 30 percent more likely to start a business than non-immigrants.
Water start-ups to watch. The Imagine H20 contest, which honors companies that find sustainable ways of delivering and treating water, has announced its 2010 finalists, according to TechCrunch. The ones to watch range from BlackGold Biofuels, which "recovers energy from wastewater streams, creating lucrative renewable energy assets from pollution liabilities," to this year's CleanTech Open winner, Puralytics. In the (very, very) plainest of terms, the Oregon-based company uses light to purify water more quickly and comprehensively. The first place winner of IH20, who will be announced in March, will get $20,000, as well as $15,000 worth of in-kind services.
A better business plan for Santa. Kris Kringle could use some serious business counseling. He's facing a down economy, new competitors and a shrinking customer base. Enter USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams, with her plan to overhaul operations at the North Pole. For starters, Santa's ancient bookkeeping method (A naughty-or-nice list written by hand. "Inefficient!") should be hosted on the Internet. He should delegate more by hiring new executives. A chief elf officer, perhaps. And forget the Grinch. Santa's competition is getting tougher, with rumors that Amazon will launch a new device called the Kringle, which lets kids instantly download "eToys." He should tout the importance of real toys with a full-force social media campaign.
Is Target the new Walmart? Target, one of the nation's most prominent retailers of everything from electronics to elbow pads, will now begin to offer fresh food, reports The New York Times. Target has sold snack foods for a while, but the company is repositioning itself to offer groceries, and just about everything else customers want, much like Walmart. "We focus on mom," said Target's creative director. "She's quite busy, dinner is ticking in the back of her mind every day. We can also offer her things to plan ahead for that next day as well."