Friday, April 29, 2011

Epic fail

While small-business owners know they are the backbone of this country, they rarely get the respect they deserve when it comes to gaining access to critical capital they need to stay afloat.

In the past few years, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury have designed programs aimed at getting cash flowing into the hands of small-business owners.

However, it seems these agencies have failed to include a key player in the lending puzzle – the banks – when developing the guidelines for these programs.

Most recently, Congress passed Small Business Lending Fund legislation designed to get $30 billion flowing into the hands of small-business owners. That was seven months ago, and the clock is ticking to get that money into the hands of small-business owners before the one-year authorization expires in September.

About one-third of the community banks that are Subchapter S corporations still haven’t received the applications or terms to even apply for the SBLF program. So far, only 600 community banks have applied for $8.7 billion of the $30 billion available funding.

Many small-business owners who were encouraged by the administration’s commitment two years ago are still wading through the red tape to gain access to this money.

When the SBA rolled out the ARC loan program in 2009, many banks refused to participate because there was no money in it for them to train their staff and comply with the lending guidelines. It became known as a “clunker with cash” for truckers, who couldn’t find a bank willing to participate.

As fuel prices continue to soar, truckers are again looking for that proverbial carrot being dangled in front of them that appears to be just out of reach … again.