According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, small businesses have created two out of every three jobs over the past three years. With more than 11 million people unemployed nationwide, it’s clear that small business is critical to jumpstarting our economy and creating jobs that our friends and neighbors need. But for small businesses to grow, they need to access capital. And while commercial banks have, in many cases, tightened lending to small businesses, loans backed by the U.S. government through the Small Business Administration (SBA) have stepped in to support hundreds of thousands of small businesses. In better economic times, the SBA may have been considered the lender of last resort, but it is, for many small businesses, the lender of only resort. SBA Certified Development Companies (CDCs) play a key role in that, bringing together growing businesses with lenders to promote economic development throughout the nation — delivering loans that banks, for various reasons, don't or won’t do on their own.
Last year, nearly 10,000 businesses nationwide accessed more than $6 billion through the SBA’s Real Estate Advantage Loan (REAL) initiative, commonly referred to as the 504 loan program, which is designed to help growing businesses finance real estate, construction and equipment. This year, according to the SBA, there has been an 11 percent increase in 504 REAL lending, reflecting both borrower demand and a tentative economic recovery. This program is a rarity in public policy: a public-private partnership that embodies smart government and actually works.
And this is exactly what would be threatened by a government shutdown.
Our elected leaders should remember that business growth is not a switch that they can turn on or off as they see fit from Washington. Economic progress takes multiple business cycles of learning to navigate regulations, securing funding and laying out a strategic plan. A government shutdown, and the ensuing delay in SBA loans would cripple our already tepid economic growth. For many of these small businesses, they may not get a second chance at growth.
Limiting job creators’ access to capital at this critical point in the life of our nation’s economy is a profoundly bad idea. We are depending on our small businesses to grow and put our communities back to work. They are depending on SBA loans to finance their physical growth: real estate and machinery. And we are all depending on our elected leaders to put aside their risky, partisan gamesmanship and come together to pass legislation and enact policy in a bipartisan, responsible way that reflects our national needs and priorities.
We’ve often heard that uncertainty is bad for business; well uncertainty about whether the federal government will be open is the worst kind.
Solomon is the president & CEO of the National Association of Certified Development Companies (NADCO), a DC-based trade association representing nearly 270 CDCs in all 50 states.