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National Restaurant Association - SBA chief addresses NRA Show

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SBA chief addresses NRA Show

Financing is available to restaurateurs through Small Business Administration programs even though banking institutions are reluctant to lend to them, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration tsaid Monday at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

SBA Administrator Karen Gordon Mills also said President Obama has tasked the agency with doing everything possible to ensure small businesses succeed and create more jobs going forward.

“You drive the economy,” Mills said. “Two out of every three jobs are created by small businesses, and half of all people in this country either own or work for a small business.”

Under the Recovery Act and Jobs Act, the SBA has supported $42 billion in loans to small businesses that wouldn't have received credit otherwise, she said. SBA has guaranteed nearly $6.7 billion in loans to 11,000 small businesses in the foodservice industry, she added.

Mills said the economy had come a long way in its recovery and that 2.1 million jobs had been added back to the workforce, but more needed to be done. Still, she said, “the government doesn’t create jobs; business does. Our job is to make it easier for you to create [them].”

Nevertheless, it is particularly tough for restaurateurs to get financing, she acknowledged. Banks don’t want to lend to businesses or industries they deem too risky or have high failure rates.

“The restaurant business is a tough business,” she said. “If you really need financing, you need to find a bank that understands your industry, your business. You need a really strong business plan in order to provide credibility. The bankers need to understand that you know how to make money, understand your competition. Having those things buttoned up will allow them to buy into your plan.”

SBA has a list of banks that specifically make loans to restaurateurs, Mills noted. The names of those bankers and their phone numbers are available on the agency’s website or can be accessed at any SBA offices around the country.

“We want you to have access to capital so you can buy your building, get working capital and hire your next set of people,” she said. “The President always says that when small business succeeds, America succeeds.”

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