Bring on business questions 24 hours a day

Business owners can now ask the Small Business Administration questions 24 hours a day, thanks to the agency's new Internet Answer Desk.

The answer desk allows customers to ask questions about business loans, tax information, business plans and a variety of other topics via e-mail. Because customers can e-mail their questions through the SBA's Web site (www.sba.gov), they are not limited to asking questions during SBA business hours, an SBA spokesman said.

Ten business-information assistants will be available to answer specific questions and provide information usually within one working day. The assistants will also direct customers to publications, information resources and local SBA offices for further assistance.

"Now a small business person can ask specific questions, day or night, with the click of the mouse," SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez said in a prepared statement.

The SBA will continue to run its telephone answer desk that is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The telephone answer desk staff, which answers more than 3,000 calls each week, can be reached at 1-800-U-ASK-SBA.

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