Trading textbooks for triple creme and A search engine for global e-commerce

So she went to work on her exit strategy. Knowing she wanted her own business, Cooper researched everything from art centers to nursing homes before deciding to start a creamery. A foodie and a regular visitor to Prince Edward County, a weekend retreat a few hours from Toronto on Lake Ontario, she got the idea after learning the island had 19 wineries but no artisanal dairies.

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It was a good opportunity, but not an obvious one: Cooper had zero experience in the field. "I didn’t even know you could milk a sheep," she says. Rather than making an impulsive switch, Cooper stayed put at McGraw-Hill (MHP, Fortune 500), using vacations to study cheesemaking, taking online microbiology courses, and starting an artisanal cheese society, which helped her network.

By June 2005 she was ready. She sold her house, bought 20 acres of land near Lake Ontario, gave a year’s notice, and prepared to move her daughter. Fifth Town Artisan Cheese was born. [Read the full article]

Very, it turns out. There was no consistent way to tell whether small manufacturers on the other side of the planet were any good. You could buy shipping records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on CD-ROM for $100 per day, but they were often incomplete, convoluted and unorganized. Company names were misspelled. Addresses were incorrect.

Then Green met Jim Psota, an MIT graduate and computer whiz. Green told him how hard it was to find reliable suppliers. There had to be a better way of doing business, they agreed.

The idea: In 2006, Psota and Green teamed up to start Panjiva, a company with offices in Cambridge and New York City whose Web site would scour millions of shipping records from databases all over the Internet, allowing businesses to find and vet suppliers. The next year, the company raised $400,000 in seed capital. In 2008, they closed a $5.2 million round of funding led by Battery Ventures. [Read the full article]

Go to recovery.gov, a government Web site designed to track stimulus money, and the section called "Track the Money. This is a database of grant recipients — in other words companies that may soon be hiring — and the federal agencies that awarded the funds. You can scan by state to find projects near you.

The stimulus also provides funding for green jobs. The federal aid package sets aside $5 billion worth of spending for making homes and buildings more energy efficient. Some job titles that are in demand: energy auditors and energy efficiency technicians. There are a number of online job boards that you can look at to get an idea about what kind of training and qualifications you will need. Here are some Web sites to start your search: ecojobs.com, renewableenergyworld.com and greenbiz.com. Of course, internships and apprenticeships are a great way to find out if you like that line of work and to make important contacts. [Read the full article]

The mortgage market may have begun to turn: Fewer borrowers fell behind on their payments during the last three months of 2009.

A seasonally adjusted 9.47% of all mortgage loans were late during the fourth quarter, down from 9.64% at the end of September, according to the National Delinquency Survey, which is produced by the Mortgage Bankers Association and is considered the bible of the industry.

This figure is significant because it shows a reduction — even if just slight — in the volume of loans heading toward the foreclosure process. This has not happened since 2006. [Read the full article]

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