The Small Business Administration said yesterday it is beginning plans to help small businesses borrow money and pay off outstanding loans so they can survive current high inflation and interest rates and low cash flow.
Although SBA Administrator A. Vernon Weaver praised the "fiscally conservative" economic policies of President Carter, who announced yesterday his intentions to seek re-election, he added that "if inflation stays like it is indefinitely, small businesses will have a hard time."
Because of Carter's anti-inflation program, "Small firms face more difficulty than usual in getting long-term financing and continuing difficulty in obtaining even short-term funds," Weaver said. "Small entrepreneurs have to pay higher interest rates than large companies. Small businesses are squeezed by cash-flow problems, they face possible drop-offs in sales and may be forced to reduce their work forces."
Weaver said, however, that the president's anti-inflation program is necessary.
Acknowledging the SBA's reputation for being slow and bogged down in paperwork, Weaver said that the SBA already has undertaken steps to convince banks "that we've changed our act" and that it can be easier to make loans to small businesses.
Those step's include:
Deferring or reducing repayment of SBA loans.
Publicizing its bank certification program which would reduce SBA paperwork in proceessing loans from certain member banks to small businesses from "three weeks to three days."
Urging all banks to help small businesses with their credit needs, Weave said some banks have lowered interest rates on loans to small businesses, although he hasn't urged them to do so. Weaver said SBA shouldn't appear to be "Big Brother" toward the banks.
So far about 30 banks have participated in the bank certification program, and Weaver said he hopes to expand membership to about 200.