Young companies hoping to go public on the Nasdaq stock market should brace for stiffer requirements adopted by the National Association of Securities Dealers, which runs Nasdaq.

The rules were drafted to answer criticism that previous regulations were too loose. NASD also has created an internal unit to ferret out falsification of financial data by companies.

The biggest impact will be on Nasdaq's Small Cap market, a second tier of Nasdaq companies that are usually smaller and less well-capitalized firms than the more established companies on Nasdaq's National Market.

Small Cap companies must comply with new governance rules, which were approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission last month and are effective immediately for companies seeking a spot on the market. Both newcomers and existing Nasdaq companies must now have at least two independent directors, have audit committees on which outside directors are a majority, hold annual meetings, and conduct conflict-of-interest reviews.

Firms now listed have six months to comply. Domenick Esposito of Grant Thornton LLP says as many as 600 companies now listed could be affected. "The new requirements, particularly the corporate governance standards . . . could be difficult, if not impossible, for some of these companies to meet," he said.

Small Cap companies also face higher minimum asset and minimum capitalization rules.

Minimums for companies on the National Market also have changed and are more complex. Nasdaq recommends companies consult with their accountants about these. Lending Welfare/work program advances in Congress

A pilot welfare-to-work loan program won approval last week in the Senate as the Small Business Administration's 1997 budget authorization moved forward through Congress. Two other programs targeting women entrepreneurs also advanced.

The "Welfare-to-Work Microloan Program," introduced by Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), would provide $ 12 million over three years to community organizations participating in another SBA program that provides loans as small as $ 500 to individuals wanting to start or expand a businesses.

The money will allow sponsoring organizations to provide business advice to these borrowers, along with subsidies for child care and transportation that can help them get off welfare and become self-employed. The bill also doubles support, to $ 8 million over the next three years, for the SBA's Women's Business Centers, adding several new centers.

Both measures are also in a House version of the bill. Some differences between the two versions must be ironed out in a conference committee, however, before final passage. Manufacturing ASE Americas begins $ 25 million expansion

ASE Americas Inc. of Billerica broke ground to quadruple its capacity for producing solar electric cells. The 15,000-square-foot addition is the first phase of a $ 25 million program and will include a 9-kilowatt rooftop solar electric system. ASE Americas said its full program is expected to create 200 jobs. New Nasdaq Small Caplisting requirements

Entry standards

Old New *Net tangible assets None $ 4m *Market capitalization None $ 50m *Net income (last fiscal year, or 2 of 3 preceding fiscal years) None $ 750,000 Total equity None $ 2m Public shares 100,000 1m Minimum share price $ 3 $ 4 * must meet one of the three standards SOURCE: Nasdaq GLOBE STAFF CHART