Hundreds of Caribbean small business across the City and State of New York may benefit from a federal program designed to keep their doors open and spur expansion.
The much needed operating capital in the form of bank loans, says Dr. Roy Hastick, president of the Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CACC1, may come from a $30 billion loan fund, which would be created through the provisions of the 2010 Small Business Jobs and Credit Act passed by the U.S. Senate a few days ago. But much would depend on the results of a much needed and aggressive implementation program by federal, state and local government agencies as well as by private sector organizations such as chambers of commerce, said Hastick.
"Caribbean businesses can definitely be helped by the passage of the bill," he told the Carib News after the Senate approved the measure. "The bill's provisions will mean a lot to minority and women-owned businesses, including those operated by Caribbean immigrants. We definitely need to ensure that the message about the funds' availability is widely disseminated to the business owners who are struggling to survive in the face of an acute shortage of operating capital. A combination of the effects of the steep recession and the poor economic conditions has hit many Caribbean businesses, some of them being forced to reduce their operations or have had to close altogether."
If and when signed into law, the bill's provisions, would, among other things:
• Open the door to billions in loans for small businesses through a $30 billion lending fund for small and medium-sized community banks which offer loans to small firms.
• Provide for the creation of innovative state lending programs for small businesses.
• Use a new Small-Business Administration public-private sector partnership to restart the flow of private investment funds designed to meet the financial needs.
• Offer billions in tax incentives to small enterprises, including business tax penalty relief.
"It's imperative that small business owners know that these funds are available through the small and medium size banks and they are ready to accept loan applications," Hastick said.
U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN YVETTE CLARKE (D-DISTRICT 11) AGREED.
"Small businesses are essential to the (economic) recovery," she said in a statement. "It is imperative that we give them access to the resources they need to strengthen our economy. This legislation is the latest in a series of bills that has cut taxes for small businesses.
"This Democratic Congress and administration are working together to put small businesses first. To date, President Obama has signed eight tax cuts into law aimed at helping small business."
With the House of Representatives moving to consider final passage of the bill, Clarke urged some of her colleagues on Capitol Hill to end any partisan bickering in order to help small firms.
"In these difficult times, we must put aside our partisan politics and focus on creating solutions that will lead to growth," she said.
At the New York state level, both Senators Malcolm Smith of Queens (D, WF-District 14) and Kevin Parker of Brooklyn (D, WF-District 21) have emphasized the need for aid to small businesses, especially those owned by minorities and women.
Like Dr. Hastick, Senator Smith said that implementation would be key to unlocking the flow of capital to the firms that need assistance the most.
"The Obama administration has moved in the right direction with this and other measures," asserted Smith. "Small businesses are vital to the nation's economic success and everything must be done to assist them financially and otherwise.
"Small businesses provide jobs and that in turns fuels economic expansion. We in the state have also acted to help these minority and women-owned enterprises."
PARKER PUT IT DIFFERENTLY.
"If we want to accelerate the pace of economic recovery in the state, then job creation is essential and that's where small minority-owned businesses come in," said the Brooklyn Democrat.
CACCI is meeting on Thursday to discuss "access to small-business financing" and the bill will be high on the agenda, said Dr. Hastick.
"Now that the Senate has passed the bill, the Obama administration as well as city and state agencies must move aggressively to open up the financial pipeline to small businesses," said the Chamber President. "There must be aggressive outreach and that work must be done by the SBA, the Mayor's Office, small-business development centers, service corps of retired executives, economic development agencies within the city and state and many academic institutions where small-business centers are located."