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Equifax (NYSE: EFX) announced the results of its Q3 2010 study on the state of small business bankruptcy — a key indicator of the financial health of business markets across the United States. Analyzing bankruptcy trends among the nation’s more than 24 million small businesses, Equifax found that the Western regions continue to experience economic turbulence with some decrease in bankruptcy rates across select MSA’s in California, Texas and Illinois. While bankruptcies have slowed in some regions, small business economic challenges continue to pressure many areas and impact the pace of recovery in certain markets.

“Our analysis on small business bankruptcy continues to indicate ongoing uncertainty in today’s marketplace,” said Dr. Reza Barazesh, senior vice president, Equifax Commercial Information Solutions. “While business bankruptcies have begun to reverse course in some regions, it remains to be seen how small firms will steer through economic headwinds and sustain growth.”

Focusing on the Q3 2009 to Q3 2010 timeframe, this Equifax study analyzed national bankruptcy trends by metropolitan statistical area (MSA). While bankruptcy rates remain high across the nation, 11 of the top 15 MSA’s with the highest number of small business bankruptcies in Q3 2010 saw a year-over-year decline from Q3 2009. The table below shows that the Los Angeles, San Bernandino and Santa Ana MSA’s experienced year-over-year bankruptcy rate increases while areas such as San Diego and Oakland reported double-digit declines year-over-year in Q3 2010 — a striking development considering California’s economic challenges. Another interesting finding, the Atlanta/Sandy Springs/Marietta and Chicago/Naperville/Joliet MSA’s saw a bankruptcy rate decrease of 26.75% and 16.67% respectively.

While the total number of bankruptcies among the top 15 MSA’s with the highest number of small business bankruptcies in Q3 2010 declined 4.41% from 6,870 in Q3 2009 to 6,567 in Q3 2010, economic instability continues to impact many of these areas. Equifax data shows that 9 of the top 15 MSA’s reported a year-over-year increase in bankruptcy when comparing the first three quarters of 2009 to the same time period in 2010. Further analysis of this time period revealed that the total number of petitions for these 15 MSA’s dropped by 1.23% — signaling a nominal decline in overall bankruptcy rate.

As part of the study, Equifax also analyzed the 15 metro areas with the fewest small business bankruptcy filings in the third quarter of 2010. Our research showed that 10 out of these15 MSA’s experienced a decrease in the number of bankruptcy petitions from Q2 2010 to Q3 2010 as well as year-over-year. The table below shows that all of these MSA’s reported 11 bankruptcies or less during Q3 2010.

For this study, Equifax applied analytics to identify the total number of small businesses and define the MSA’s within the sample population. Equifax classifies a small business as a commercial entity of less than 100 employees. As part of the study, Equifax analyzed Chapter 7, 11 and 13 filings. Chapter 7 is a liquidation proceeding in which a debtor receives a discharge of all debts, while Chapters 11 and Chapter 13 are reorganization bankruptcies that allow individuals and companies to pay off debt over a set period of years. To learn more about Equifax Small Business Solutions, visit http://www.equifaxsmallbusiness.com.

About Equifax (http://www.equifax.com)
Equifax empowers businesses and consumers with information they can trust. A global leader in information solutions, we leverage one of the largest sources of consumer and commercial data, along with advanced analytics and proprietary technology, to create customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.

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WASHINGTON – Small businesses interested in exporting now have a new online tool to help them tap into the global marketplace to grow their business. Developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration, Six Steps to Begin Exporting, www.export.gov/begin, is the latest tool in the National Export Initiative toolbox to help entrepreneurs begin exporting.

The six-step process begins with a self-assessment to help potential exporters gauge their readiness to successfully engage in international trade. The self-assessment is followed by sections on training and counseling programs; resources to create an export business plan; information on conducting market research; assistance for finding foreign buyers; and investigating financing for your small business exports, foreign investments or projects.

Upon completing the self-assessment, businesses receive a score indicating their level of readiness. Based on the score, additional resources are identified fitting their specific needs, including SBA and its nationwide resource partners SCORE and Small Business Development Centers, as well as Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers, which provide individualized support.

“This practical, interactive website is just the latest example of the commitment the Obama administration has made to helping American businesses – especially small businesses – sell more of what they make around the world,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Connecting America’s entrepreneurs and small businesses with new buyers and new markets abroad will help create jobs and spur sustainable economic growth.”

“With nearly 96 percent of the world’s customers living outside the United States and two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power in foreign countries, tapping into opportunities in the global market makes perfect sense and is more attainable than ever for small business owners,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “One of the main hurdles potential exporters face is their fear that exporting is too complicated. This six-step process addresses and dispels that concern. Across the administration, we continue to strengthen the tools and resources so we can be the best possible partner in helping small business owners grow their customer base beyond our borders and, in doing so, create new jobs here at home.”

This joint Commerce-SBA effort is part of an array of activities by federal agencies to support President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which calls for doubling U.S. exports and supporting 2 million jobs over the next five years. So far this year, U.S. exports have increased nearly 18 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

President Obama has outlined five steps the Administration is taking to help U.S. firms expand sales of their goods and services abroad: creating a new Cabinet-level focus on U.S. exports, expanding export financing, prioritizing government advocacy on behalf of U.S. exporters, providing new resources to U.S. businesses seeking to export, and ensuring a level playing field for U.S. exporters in global markets.

For more information on export services for small businesses or to find local counseling and technical assistance resources, please visit www.export.gov

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