Fox Valley’s small business owners hope credit markets loosen up
U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen looks to get aid for startups
By J.E. Espino
April 9, 2009
GRAND CHUTE — New business owner Cindy Veit doesn’t think she’s asking banks to take on too much of a risk as she applies for a loan of at least $10,000.
But after a few rejections, she’s still peddling around to lenders her business plan, one that involves maintaining flagpoles and replacing tattered flags at commercial sites from the Fox Cities to Oshkosh.
"I’m just working with my own equity and home equity right now," said Veit, an Appleton resident who, undeterred by the down-trodden economy, started New Flag on March 1 to take advantage of the flag-buying season that runs April to June.
The credit freeze has hurt numerous entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their businesses. The Small Business Administration’s loan-guarantee program backed fewer than 9,000 loans from October to December 2008, a 57 percent decline from the previous year.
It’s not that the banks have lost confidence in those seeking loans, said U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, who believes that the drop in activity is a reflection of the economy’s current state.
"When we find the floor in housing and we get small businesses going and employing people and when we finally convince this administration’s treasury that a home has less value and maybe we should pay less interest rates, we can begin to have an economy again," he said.
Veit, like several Fox Valley small business owners, however, are not shying away from their plans. They seek help in understanding what the stimulus bill means for their ventures.
"I’m looking to see if the money is going to free up a little bit," Veit said Monday after she participated in a forum at Fox Valley Technical College’s D.J. Bordini Business and Industry Center with representatives from SBA and lending institutions.
Susan Leonard, a gourmet cookie maker from Hortonville, is seeking a $10,000 loan to add a commercial kitchen at her bakery, Leonard’s Designs. The kitchen would be rented out.
"I want a storefront where people can sell their product at," she said. "Not only will they produce it (their goods) there. They will sell it there."
Brian Bert, of Menasha, says he plans to start a solar energy business.
"I’m tired of not having an alternative to oil or gas," he said. "This is the best time for this kind of business because of the energy credits."