Entrepreneurs six biggest questions on the stimulus bill answered The HR, benefits, and payroll experts from Paychex walk entrepreneurs through their six biggest questions, from whether their employees should complete a new W-4 to change their tax withholdings to how their employees will get the COBRA credit.

To jumpstart the local economy, NYC lends out laid-off financiers. The city of New York is playing entrepreneurial match-maker. The New York Times reports that the city has paired 50 former finance pros with small businesses for 10 weeks. The ex-Wall Streeters will advice the startups on issues like whether they should expand into new markets. The mentors will be unpaid for now, but some, in search of a new career path, are hoping the program could lead to a fulltime gig with a promising startup.

What LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman looks for in a startup. At TechCrunch, Reid Hoffman shares the three things he looks for before investing in a young company. Hoffman, who has funded startups like Digg, Facebook, and Ning, has an enviable track record. The first concern, he says, should about getting massive: "How does a company rise above the noise to attract massive discovery and adoption? YouTube did it through existing channels like MySpace, which already reached millions. Yelp had strong SEO, which found them a mass audience searching for restaurants and nightlife. Facebook's University-centric approach landed them 80% adoption across a campus within 60 days of launch."

Spot Runner gets sued. When Spot Runner was founded in 2004, it promised something truly exciting: Pay $500 and get a commercial for your business produced and aired on television stations, all with little more than a few mouse clicks. We called it "TV Advertising for the Rest of U.S." The idea was powerful, and Spot Runner raised tens of million of dollars from investors. But with economy in recession and the advertising market all but dried up, one of those investors is not happy. Advertising giant WPP alleges in a lawsuit that Spot Runner founders enriched themselves while selling off shares in their troubled enterprise. The tech blog Valleywag, digs into WPP's complaint and finds claims of massive losses. Spot Runner allegedly had revenues of $9 million and losses of $45 million in 2008. Spot Runners founders--as well as some of their venture capital investors--say there was no fraud and say the lawsuit contains inaccuracies.

Lending at TARP banks falls 23 percent. You heard it right. The WSJ reports that the latest government data shows that the nation's largest banks actually lent less money in February than in October of last year, before TARP funds were distributed. According to the WSJ's analysis, lending by 21 TARP recipients fell 4.7 percent from January to February. There's a more detailed chart here.

Skepticism over stimulus. With news about the TARP banks, it's no wonder only 14% of small business owners believe that the stimulus package will help their business. CNN says part of the skepticism comes from the fact that the $787 billion stimulus bill does not specifically require government agencies to spend on small business. (Though the federal government is obligated to award 23% of its contract dollars to small businesses, it often doesn't meet that quota.)

Partners find the road to innovation rocky. How can an older, more established company work with a small, untested partner to deliver a breakthrough, innovative product? The Wall Street Journal looks at paper makers Crane & Co's fruitful, but sometimes tumultuous relationship with its partner in innovation, Nanoventions Holding. The two companies worked together to incorporate the startup's moving image strip into a redesigned 100 dollar bill. Crane & Co has been making all the US's currency paper since 1879, while Nanoventions has only been around since 2000. Both wanted control of the project, leading to head-butting, even as they were running into numerous technical problems.

Silicon Valley unemployment rate jumps to a record 11 percent. As of March, more than 100,000 people are now unemployed in Silicon Valley, the highest rate since the state started keeping records in 1990. Stock prices of high-tech firms are up and semiconductor companies like Intel are reporting an uptick in orders, but that hasn't stopped the lay-offs. "All the big companies seem to be shedding," John Plocher, a former Sun Microsystems engineer, tells the Mercury News. In his network group, he added, "I just look at their name tags: 'I used to work at "...' and it's all the big names in the valley." Still, the losses hardly compare with the dot-com bust when the valley lost 123,900 in 12 months. This time around, it's been 36,200 in the past year. Curious about unemployment in other entrepreneurial hot beds? Slate has an interactive map.

Recession slowing water investment to a drip. Water scarcity and population growth have long made water a stable investment--from companies that purify, transport, and deliver it, to infrastructure companies that build filters and pipes to manage existing supplies. But Reuters reports that the global recession has put off price hikes and halted new projects, which means the water boom investors expected will have to wait. The one area of the market that continues to grow is the industry's Holy Grail: desalination that would replace dwindling freshwater supplies. Check out our feature, Blue Is The New Green, which takes a look at 11 water cutting-edge water startups, including a desalination company, a water recycling system that disinfects water from the bathroom sink to the toilet tank, and one that uses genetically modified organism to attack water pollutants. (via peHUB)

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