Saturday, August 18, 2018
Business

Federal shutdown cripples small business loan program

The federal shutdown has left Chris Kneer and a couple dozen of his clients in limbo.

Kneer, who runs SBA lending for USAmeriBank out of its Ybor City location, has been stymied by the virtual closing of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Typically, after USAmeriBank internally approves a client for an SBA loan, it takes less than two weeks for the application to be approved by the SBA. As of Wednesday, no pending applications were moving through the federal system and no new ones could be entered.

"We've got 10 in the queue (at the SBA) and another 15 customers that are in the applications stage and could very well be moved into the queue soon," Kneer said. "Nothing's happening."

Some of his clients are on tight deadlines to get a loan approved to buy property or equipment; some need working capital. If the shutdown persists, some customers may have to convince a seller to extend a contract date or be forced to put more money into escrow.

"It puts them in a tough situation," he said. "This is a real-life situation. As the economy is slowly starting to improve, this is not what we need for sure."

According to information on SBA's website, the agency's disaster operations and disaster recovery loan program for small businesses will remain open during the government shutdown.

But not much else.

No one is processing popular programs like the flagship SBA 7(a) loans and the 504 development loans used to buy real estate, machinery and equipment.

The SBA has been a critical lifeline for many small and emerging businesses trying to recover from the Great Recession. Over the past four years, the agency has provided guarantees for loans of as much as $106 billion to more than 193,000 small businesses.

The Small Business Development Center at USF's Tampa campus — which receives federal funding but is not staffed by federal employees — remained open for business Wednesday.

Being open, however, didn't mean its services weren't curtailed, director Eileen Rodriguez said. Staffers could counsel small businesses and start loan applications internally, but could not funnel any loans to the SBA.

Rodriguez said one client was recently approved for an $850,000 SBA loan by his bank, "but … they can't even submit it" to the SBA.

When politicians first talked about a shutdown, Kneer said he thought it would last at most a couple of days.

"It looks like it could stretch out a bit longer. If this stretches for weeks, that pile (of pending loans) will grow and grow," he said.

"We don't want customers to panic, but we have to prepare them for what could happen."

Comments
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18
Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

Tampa Bay’s seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

SPRING HILL — The latest Winn-Dixie remodel opened in Hernando County on Thursday.This marks the seventh remodeled Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers has unveiled in Tampa Bay this year. The chain promised renovations following emerging f...
Published: 08/17/18
St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

St. Petersburg ranks No. 39 in U.S. for affordable living, study says

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg is beating the national averages on affordable homeownership, according to a SmartAsset study.The financial technology company ranked 115 of the biggest cities in the U.S., measured by mortgage payments, property taxes...
Published: 08/17/18

Florida unemployment falls to 3.7 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate hit an 11-year low in July. The jobless rate inched down a notch to 3.7 percent, according to state figures released Friday, continuing the state’s 10-month run of a sub-4 percent unemployment rate. "This is one of the big...
Published: 08/17/18
Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

Welfont, KnowBe4, Teami and other Tampa Bay companies rank high in Inc. 5000 list

While a Wisconsin company that makes software to execute shipments and a trendy cellphone grip company out of Colorado may have taken the top spots in this year’s Inc. 5000 list — Florida still had an impressive showing. Every year, Inc. ranks the 5...
Published: 08/17/18
Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

Wages remain stagnant in Florida despite super low unemployment. What’s going on?

It remains our biggest economic enigma: Sluggish wage growth despite low unemployment. In a robust job market, pay rises as the supply of available workers shrinks. At least that’s the way it normally works. This time around, the ingredients appear ...
Published: 08/17/18
Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Children who lived with smokers are more likely to die of lung disease as adults, study says

Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to lung disease decades later, according to a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society.For 22 years, researchers have been following more than 70,000 adults who have never smoked. At the...
Published: 08/17/18
What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

What would it take to overthrow king Publix? Safeway’s Florida exit begs the question.

LARGO — Everything is on clearance inside Tampa Bay’s only Safeway grocery store. Patio furniture, 40 percent off. Beach chairs, too. Most grocery items are 30 percent off; the entire liquor store is 20 percent off.The discounts will probably get ste...
Published: 08/17/18
Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

Trump asks SEC to look into ditching quarterly filings

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump says he’s asking federal regulators to look into the effectiveness of the quarterly financial reports that publicly traded companies are required to file. In a tweet early Friday, Trump said that after speaking with ...
Published: 08/17/18
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,I’m a recent college grad who’s been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but I’m doing OK. I’m able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons I’m able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18