Robert_Bowne_Portait  A recent story in The New York Times   about New York City's takeover of the   historic Bowne House in Flushing,   Queens, was a reminder of the   significance of the Bowne name both in   U.S. printing history and in the annals of   social justice and public service. The   house, built by John Bowne   (1627-1695),  was the focal point of a   legal struggle  that became one of the   foundations of  religious freedom in America. In 1775, Bowne's great-grandson, Robert Bowne (pictured, 1744-1818), started a stationery supply and printing firm to which the latter-day Bowne & Co. Inc. traces its roots as the country’s oldest publicly traded company. Robert Bowne’s business thrived, and he turned to a variety of social causes that included anti-slavery activism and the promotion of free public education. Today, the Robert Bowne Foundation carries on his tradition of public service as a developer of literacy education programs for the children and youth of New York City. Bowne also was a director of the city’s first bank, a founder of its first public health committee, and an early backer of projects that led to the construction of the Erie Canal. A working replica of his printing business, Bowne & Company Stationers, is a popular attraction at the South Street Seaport Museum. A detailed history of the business can be downloaded here. Juan Barcena, founder of A&B Labels and Printing Inc. of El Paso, TX, was profiled in an article in the El Paso Times. Barcena, an El Paso native, worked for 20 years as the head of an in-plant printing department before setting up his own shop in June 1978. With the help of a SBA loan, he began to equip the business for the production of what today includes pressure-sensitive, thermal transfer, and direct transfer labels in up to four colors. The company also produces manuals, instruction sheets, and forms. Barcena, who employs 21 people including seven family members, links the survival of the business to his habit of setting aside money in good times and reinvesting it in the company. According to the story, that practice has served A&B Labels and Printing particularly well in the present economic downturn, which Barcena describes as “by far the worst we have seen." That assessment probably would ring true for Charlotte, NC, printer Tim Mullaney, who tells his story to the Charlotte Observer in a feature headed “Printer recovers after losing bank client.” The bank client was Wachovia Corp., a troubled institution that was absorbed by Wells Fargo last year. The loss of Wachovia’s business—retirement book covers and other investment materials—was a blow to Consolidated Press, a firm started by Mullaney’s father in 1966. Mullaney reacted by cutting operating costs across the board, attempting (unsuccessfully) to refinance a loan on his building, and, above all, working the phones to bring in more customers. According to the story, Consolidated has added about 40 clients over the past year, about the same number it has added in the last five years. As a result, Mullaney is feeling more sanguine about the future. “It's definitely better than I’d hoped it would be," he is quoted as saying. “From our perspective, it looks like we’ve started to turn the corner.” According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), two-thirds of business owners know very little about health insurance choices and even less about how to pick the plan that will best suit their company’s budget and employee needs. In Kansas City, MO, reports a story in the Kansas City Star, Mail Print Inc. rethought its approach to group health insurance earlier this year when faced with the prospect of a 45% increase in rates for its fully paid plan over 2008. Realizing that she couldn’t pass that kind of increase on to her customers, CEO and co-owner Gina Danner knew the time had come to ask her 80 employees to bear responsibility for some of their health care costs. Now they can choose between a health services account (HSA), a high-deductible, lower-premium plan that Mail Print continues to pay in full; or a preferred provider option (PPO) plan with a lower deductible and a monthly employee cost of $25. The HSA requires participants to make annual tax-free contributions to the account, which can be tapped to cover medical expenses. “With the two plans we have in place now, I am hopeful for an increase of 10% or less in 2010,” Danner is quoted as saying. The Business Journal of Milwaukee reports that Tailored Label Products Inc. of Menomonee Falls, WI, received the annual Trowbridge Award from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in recognition of its exceptional support of community organizations. In 2008, says the story, Tailored Label donated more than $25,000 in time and material support to 18 local groups and is on track to exceed that total this year. In June, Tailored Label, which has 64 employees, was named the Waukesha County Small Business of the Year in recognition of the company’s treatment of customers, employees and the community. Employees also take part in community outreach programs for assisting cognitively challenged and at-risk high school students. They also participate extensively in the company’s United Way campaigns. Founded in 1984, Tailored Label provides custom label products and specialized adhesive solutions for electrical, automotive, outdoor power equipment, point-of-purchase, and biomedical applications