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Bankruptcies Rise, Score with NHL’s Penguins, and Prison Education Plan a Breakout


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[Gene Marks, host]

Hey, everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome to the Week in Review, a Paychex THRIVE podcast where I take a few items from the news this week that impacts your small business and discuss a little bit about the impact on what you can do about it. Are you ready? Let's go.


The first bit of news that came this week is from, which is reporting that business bankruptcies have soared 17% from the previous month. Business failures in August spiked as the number of companies seeking court protection from the creditors jumped in response to rising interest rates and pockets of economic headwinds.


The number of commercial bankruptcies increased nearly 17% in August compared to July. That's according to the data company Epic Bankruptcy. It marks the 13th consecutive month that total bankruptcies, including families and individuals, have logged year over year increases, and that's according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.


Not a big surprise. One of the consultants to, you know, in the bankruptcy industry, a guy named Ed Flynn, said he thinks a lot of this is due to interest rates. There's been an unusually large number of large cases, he says. And I get it. I mean, I wrote about this a year ago. I think it is the story of the year. Higher interest rates can really put not only individuals but small businesses under the gun when it comes to paying their debts and maintaining all of that.


But I want to make sure that you're aware about some of the protections that you might have as a small business owner. Now, I wrote about this in the Philly Inquirer a few years ago, and that's because back in 2019, the Trump administration signed into law the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019, and why that's important is because of this: It's a new law that if, at the time and it's still existing, if you have less than about $2.8 million in debts, you were given more time to file a reorganization plan. Debts would no longer be required to be paid in full for the business owner to retain ownership of the company.


Instead, there's a new formula for payback that projects disposable income over a period of 3 to 5 years. There would be less red tape according to the act. You now will be able to appoint a standing trustee instead of one of those credit committees, and there's a new way for determining the owners and creditors equity interest as well, based on what's fair and equitable.


The bottom line is this: If you are one of those small businesses that might be facing potential bankruptcy, as we've seen from the numbers – they really are going up – before you throw in the towel or panic, talk to a bankruptcy attorney and ask them specifically about the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019. If you are eligible for that, then it will be a lot easier for you to reorganize, get your feet back on the ground, and hopefully make a plan for moving forward in a better way.


The next story has to do with hockey. I know it's the season really hasn't officially started yet. We're all involved with the baseball coming to an end and obviously football season just getting underway. But I'm a big hockey fan. I'm also a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, even though I'm, you know, a Philly Flyers fan, but the Flyers haven't been doing so well over the past few years.


Pittsburgh Penguins and First National Bank, which is a subsidiary of FMB Corporation, they recently partnered to develop what they call the FNB Small Business Development Camp. It's designed to assist locally owned small businesses in the Pittsburgh area. It was announced just last week. Five local businesses are going to be selected to participate in a six-week training program consisting of educational speakers and workshops and classes that are providing guidance and insight on how to sustain, scale, and advance their business.


The small-business participants will have the opportunity to learn from and work directly with executives and experts at the bank, the Penguins, and the Riverside's Center for Innovation, which is a nonprofit in the Pittsburgh area. As part of the six-week program, industry experts will cover various topics, including financial markets and resources available to small business, pricing models, general marketing, finding and attracting investors for businesses, building and managing a team, and general pitch preparation.


At the end of the program, each business will present a pitch to an expert panel of judges, with the top three groups receiving a share of a $50,000 grant towards their operations, and all five companies will receive marketing opportunities with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This, by the way, was reported on the Pittsburgh Penguins website on


It's an innovative program, guys, and I like it a lot and I hope to see a lot more of that. It's interesting to see banks and other financial institutions partner up with maybe some, you know, local teams like this to do things. In Philly, we did a podcast on THRIVE, geez, I don't know, a couple of years ago maybe about how the 76ers do like a co-op marketing program and trying to give attention to local Philadelphia small businesses.


Always good to see teams involved with their local businesses, and if you're a business, obviously not in the Pittsburgh area, but elsewhere, you might want to keep your eyes open and see if any of your local sports teams are doing any kind of grants or programs or education or consulting that they are partnering with to help small businesses in the area. More than a few are doing that, and it might be an opportunity for you.


Finally, there is an announcement that was made just recently, and this was published on a It's about an educational program to the people that are resident in Massachusetts’ prisons.


So, it's the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, they announced a partnership with a company called APDS, it's an education, technology, and public benefit corporation. They're going to provide nearly 6,000 incarcerated individuals with day one access to best-in-class career readiness courses. The education and career courses began rolling out to every state corrections (facility) back in July 2022 and now they're all 100% complete, it was just announced.


This program is taking an individualized and scalable approach to delivering education, rehabilitation, and workforce plans for each incarcerated individual across the state's correctional facilities. The initiative aligns with the objective of the mission to break the cycle of incarceration through pathways to living wage employment and at no cost to the justice impacted or their families.


I think I spoke about this before on a Paychex podcast, but let me reiterate; the formerly incarcerated are a potentially great resource for your business. We're all looking for new employees. So, go to your state's Department of Corrections. They all have career programs that they try to connect businesses with people getting out of prison. Work with a nonprofit organization that specializes in this kind of thing – and they're all over the place in every major urban city. And I will have to say that the nonprofit organizations will walk you through the process. They will help you with the education. They will help your employees, because some might not feel comfortable having a formerly incarcerated person working in their offices.


But really, I did a piece on this recently for the Philly Inquirer, and the response from the businesses that were participating in this program was absolutely enormous. In fact, they found that the loyalty from those formerly incarcerated people were even higher than the employees that they were just finding normally.


The great news about this kind of educational partnership, and this is happening in Massachusetts, is they're preparing these incarcerated people more for the future, giving them education and skills, because that's always been another big thing for, you know, for us.


So, depending on what state you live in, I don't know if the same program is going on in different states – this is only in Massachusetts – but there are nonprofit organizations that will provide education and skill-based learning for the formerly incarcerated.


You can get workforce opportunity grants in your state, as well. And not only that, there is something called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is huge, is up to a $9,600 credit on your taxes if you hire somebody who's formerly incarcerated. You can take that savings and maybe apply it to some skill-based programs for those people.


So, good for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and this APDS, this technology and public benefit corporation. This sounds like a great program for the formerly incarcerated that I think will really benefit Massachusetts’ small businesses and I really hope that that expands around the country.


That's the news for this week. My name is Gene Marks. You've been listening to Paychex THRIVE Week in Review. If you need any help with your business or advice, would like to suggest a guest for our Paycheck THRIVE Podcast, please visit us at


Hey, thanks for listening again. My name is Gene Marks. We'll see you next week with a few items in the news that impacts your businesses and some thoughts on navigating around those items. Take care.


This podcast is property of Paychex, Inc. 2022. All rights reserved.