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Shutdown puts would-be entrepreneurs' plans on hold

Erica Chase-Gregory, regional director of the Small Business

Erica Chase-Gregory, regional director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, seen on Jan. 2, 2014. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Islanders who can't get small business loan approvals during the federal shutdown may lose out on opportunities to start or expand their firms, a small business expert said.

And even when the shutdown ends, they will face a lengthy backlog as the process gets moving again, said Erica Chase-Gregory, regional director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College.  "The longer this goes on, the greater the impact to our local economy will be."

Right now, applicants can only get so far in the process, she said.  

Once applications for federal Small Business Administration loans are filled out by the bank and the borrower, "the next step is getting the signatures that seal the deal," Chase-Gregory said. "But because of the furlough, that part of the process is backlogged by at least a month."

Prospective borrowers like Melville resident Angela Amore have no option but to wait.

Amore, a fashion designer who has been working with the SBDC at Farmingdale since June, said she fears the shutdown will make her lose out on her opportunity to become a first-time business owner. 

She's depending on an SBA loan to buy an existing wholesale apparel business.

"The entire situation is beyond disappointing because after months of discussion, we were right at the decision mark," Amore said. "Now, I'm afraid I may lose this wonderful opportunity because the seller is becoming impatient. If he gets a cash offer, I could lose the sale."

Amore said the uncertainty over when the shutdown will end and business will resume is frustrating.

"Things are at a complete standstill and there's nothing I can do about it," she said. "I have so many plans for my business and I'm not sure what I'll do if this falls through."

If the shutdown continues, "We'll see more and more people in this same situation," Chase-Gregory said.

"It's unfortunate because it's delaying small businesses from opening or existing ones from growing, which in turn affects the creation of jobs." she said.

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