Small businesses favor stimulus measures

Jan. 26, 2012 at 12:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A majority of small-business owners favor a variety of stimulus programs to get the U.S. economy back into shape, a survey indicates.

Although half of the small-business owners identified themselves as Republicans, the alignment with the more conservative party did not stop a majority of business owners from indicating they would favor more spending on infrastructure, reducing principal on underwater mortgages and reducing collateral requirements for loans, strategies that would traditionally fall in the camp of the Democrats, a survey sponsored by three major trade groups said.

The survey released Thursday was sponsored by The Main Street Alliance, the American Sustainable Business Council and the Small Business Majority.

In the survey, 61 percent of respondents indicated it is harder to get a loan now than it was four years ago.

In a conference call, Gail Glasser, owner of Century Fasteners and Machine Co., said her family business in Chicago could not get a $100,000 line of credit recently. "Not a loan, a line of credit," she said. The family has operated the business for 55 years, she said.

Ninety percent of respondents in the survey indicated they would support "making it easier for community banks and credit unions to lend more." Sixty percent indicated reducing collateral requirements would be a good idea.

A majority, 57 percent, indicated support for a reduction of principal on homes where the owners owe more on paper than the value of the mortgage. Just such a strategy is likely to be part of a settlement with U.S. banks that took illegal short cuts when handling foreclosures in recent years.

A majority of small-business owners also favored spending on infrastructure, including a nationwide wireless network.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents favored spending $50 billion on infrastructure projects, the survey found.

"We've weathered countless economic ups and downs," said Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates in Bloomfield, N.J., which has 11 workers on the payroll.

However, he said, "If you combine Jimmy Carter's inflation with Ronald Reagan's recession and George Bush the first's recession combined, they don't measure up to half the impact ... on the small-business community" of the recent economic downturn.

"We support investment in infrastructure, because it creates jobs and jobs creates customers," he said.

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