Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Assistance Needed for Small Businesses

South Florida is home to approximately 77,000 small businesses, which are the heart of our local economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. We hear about the thousands of jobs lost in America's corporate giants due to the economic crisis, but the impact is exponential among the thousands of small businesses in small towns and metropolitan areas.
Many small companies all over South Florida have been forced to cut salaries and lay off employees. In fact, it is reasonable to project that, without some improvement in cash flow opportunities for small businesses within the next sixty days, there will be a projected loss of some 231,000 jobs in South Florida alone.
I recently met with the local small business community, each facing these challenges. They represent a group that has come together to form a Small Business Roundtable support network with a message to elected leaders from the cities to the congress, and the community, that there is a state of economic emergency for small businesses in South Florida.
Every member of the group has had a negative experience with lending institutions, and worries that without cash flow, their business will have to close. Their banks have refused to lend, credit lines from banks and credit card companies have been drastically decreased, and the ripple effects on the status of their credit and relationships with vendors, as they are faced with mounting obligations. As a result, cash flow shortage is the number one issue, need, and challenge with small businesses.
In times like these, the City of Miami has many resources available for small businesses. Today we opened the Minority Business Enterprise Center (MBEC™). Thanks to a partnership with the City, the MBEC™ recently made the City’s Manuel Artime Community Center in Little Havana their headquarters. The City is also providing them with a range of support services, including equipment, Internet and telephone support services. You can call 305.576.7888 for more information on the center.
We also work closely with ACCION USA, the largest micro-lender in the United States. ACCION USA opened an office in Miami in 2003 and has been providing business loans ranging from $500 to $50,000 to self-employed Miamians who are shut out from traditional sources of business credit. WE are working closely with the Small Business Administration to create new programs to help our businesses.
These emergency circumstances call for bold, incisive action and political will to meet the needs of thousands of small businesses, their owners, employees, and those institutions that resuscitate their lifeline.
As president of the U.S. conference of Mayors, I have called to the Federal Government for financial relief for small businesses to help them through this unprecedented economic downturn. I urge small business owners to contact their members of congress in Washington, D.C., and call for passage of the Economic Stimulus Package.
I also sent a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (MA) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (NY) calling for financial relief for small business. Click HERE to read the letter.