Make us your home page
Instagram

Small businesses say they're bearing the brunt of recovery cost

TAMPA — Each of the 10 small business owners surrounding Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink had a beef with the state's plan to help them emerge from the Great Recession.

Not enough is being done to market Florida or the Tampa Bay "brand."

Banks and their regulators are still too stingy with loans.

The state should drop a plan to give small companies tax credits for creating jobs and put that money into training grants instead.

For Jennifer Bakunas, president of Web design and development firm Magnetic, the issue was why — in an era of bank bailouts — small businesses are shouldering the brunt of the costs of recovery in the form of higher unemployment taxes and health care costs.

"It's a very big load for a small business to carry when you're basically in survival mode," Bakunas said.

A report released Thursday by private company consultant Sageworks bolstered her argument. The report found small business sales were down 6 percent, with payrolls and advertising budgets falling.

Sink, Florida's chief financial officer and Democratic candidate for governor, had organized the Thursday morning roundtable in part to see if there are any signs the credit freeze is thawing.

The Small Business Administration temporarily is guaranteeing up to 90 percent of some loans to spur bank lending. Sink, who ran Bank of America's Florida operation before launching her political career, said more needs to be done.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairwoman Sheila Bair has pledged support for easing the lending requirements, Sink said, but that directive apparently hasn't filtered down to risk-averse bank examiners.

Sink's message to the regulators and the banks: "Give Florida a break. Look at credit a little bit differently right now. … It's not fair to ding us … for holding on by our teeth."

Jeffrey Mount, owner of Wright's Gourmet House, said he has found credit is available, just not at the level he had hoped.

He recently sought $800,000 for a renovation, but his longtime bank was willing to lend only $200,000. "I can do the renovation, but have to do it over several years," Mount said.

Some of the fixes urged are already under way. For one, the Legislature is expected to delay plans to drastically hike unemployment taxes. (The tax on businesses, based partly on the number of employees, is funneled into the now-bankrupt state fund used to pay unemployment benefits. By forestalling higher taxes, the state will have to borrow more through a federal line of credit to keep the program afloat.)

Some of the problems cited were tougher to tackle.

Holly Tomlin of the temps agency Tomlin Tested Staffing gave one troubling anecdote highlighting a "system" shortcoming.

In attempting to place an unemployed worker in a short-term assignment recently, the would-be worker turned her down. "I can't take that right now," Tomlin said she was told. "It's going to interrupt my unemployment benefits."

Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8242. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jeffmharrington.

Small businesses say they're bearing the brunt of recovery cost 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 9:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  3. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo

    Health

    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]