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Obama small-biz loan plan finds support on LI

President Barack Obama speaks during his visit to

President Barack Obama speaks during his visit to Oasis Mechanical Contractors, in Lanham, Md. after meeting with small business leaders. (February 5, 2010) Credit: AP

Many Long Island small-business owners said Friday that they supported President Barack Obama's request that Congress expand two small-business loan programs, but some still wanted more details about how the government plans to turn the ideas into action.

"I think that any money that the federal government gets in the hands of small business - because small businesses are the drivers of the economy - is a step in the right direction," said James Vilardi, head of Valley Stream's Bedford Construction Group.

Obama's latest small-business initiatives call for temporarily refinancing owner-occupied commercial real estate loans under the Small Business Administration. He also proposed temporarily raising the SBA's Express loan cap from $350,000 to $1 million. Both initiatives would help free up cash for businesses to use in other areas.

These proposals and others Obama has pitched will bolster confidence, but the result remains to be seen, said Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services in Hicksville. Plans to increase the personal income tax for those in the higher income bracket also will affect the final equation for entrepreneurs, he said.

"Just because the statement is made doesn't mean that's how it is going to get rolled out," Basso added.

Chris Brown, president of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce and owner of Mid-Island Medical Supply Co., also questioned how long changes would take. "I am sure it would help some businesses," he said. "But you have to read the fine print. When they passed the stimulus, banks were supposed to loosen up some restraints, start spending money and getting it back in circulation, and it never happened."

Ultimately, liquidity and access to credit are key for small businesses to begin building and hiring, said Evan Bloom, vice president and co-owner of Sir Speedy in Westbury.

His printing and marketing company also could benefit indirectly if clients received funding. This would allow them to spend money on his marketing services to increase demand and eventually hire workers to meet that demand, Bloom said.

"Anything that is going to provide liquidity to businesses makes the most sense because that's where it starts," he said.

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