Kagan talks jobs in Crandon
By Michael Skubal
Rhinelander Daily News
Congressman Steve Kagan M.D., representing the 8th District of Wisconsin, met with small business owners, bankers, city officials and the public Tuesday in Crandon. It was a chance to learn the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and how to take advantage of these opportunities.
Here’s what Kagan emphasized in the almost two hour meeting.
“Money is available, both from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the United States Rural Development (USDA) Program and the Wisconsin Rural Development Program. It is first come, first served. You have to apply to get the money.
“We have a culture here in the Northwoods of not asking for help. You have to ask,” Kagen said.
Over 70 citizens packed a conference room at the Best Western Crandon Inn and Suites in hopes of hearing Kagan say exactly that. Mike Gruett, President of the Crandon Area Chamber of Commerce and owner of Forest TV and Appliance in Rhinelander, introduced Kagan.
“In my district I represent seven sovereign nations,” said Kagan. “We mirror America. We are multi-lingual and multi-national. I voted against the bailout. If you’re too big to fail, you shouldn’t exist. We’re all connected in this economy. The way out of this crisis is with jobs, jobs, and more jobs. And who’s making jobs? Small businesses. Most are family owned. We have to treat small businesses like the last administration treated large businesses. Small businesses provide nearly 80 percent of new jobs and generate 50 percent of our gross economic product,” Kagen said.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has two major programs — the 7 (a) program and the 504 program. The 7 (a) program allows small business owners to get loans up to $2 million dollars with a substantial government guarantee. The 504 program is designed to provide a guarantee of up to $4 million in financing for major economic development projects that can be crucial for job growth and community development.
Eric Ness represented the SBA at the meeting,
“There is great news but challenges remain. We need to get the capital to small businesses. The guarantee for loans has gone from 75 percent to 90 percent. We’re paying all the fees that small businesses used to pay. Payments now go from seven to ten years rather than three to five. We’re also paying fees for 504 loans.
And we have a surety bond program. Construction companies need surety bonds. The $2 million limit has been changed to $5 million. There are also micro loan programs for up to $35,000.”
It’s not just businesses who are being thrown a lifeline. The USDA Rural Development Program has a home loan program offering 100 percent financing with no down payment and no payment for mortgage insurance. There is a guaranteed home loan program with local lenders and a subsidized home loan program which reduces monthly payments depending on income.
The Recovery Act funds education, establishing a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund which can be used, using existing funding formulas, to prevent cutbacks and layoffs, for school modernization or other purposes. It also increases the higher education tax credits to four million low-income students.
The legislation also provides direct tax relief to 95 percent of American workers through a refundable tax credit of up to $400 per worker ($800 per couple filing jointly).
ARRA invests in modernizing roads and bridges, creating jobs in the short term and provides for clean water, flood control and environmental restoration projects. Recovery Act funding has already been announced for Northeast Wisconsin for housing, transportation, health care and veterans.
Kagan also addressed health care issues at the meeting.
“I want to make sure we all have health care. There should be community based ratings. Health care is upside down, if you don’t have health insurance, you pay the highest prices. In Northeast Wisconsin the cost of health care is the highest reason for bankruptcy.” Kagan summed up by saying, “The ideal of equality is what makes America, not freedom.”
Kagan can be reached at his office in Green Bay, 920-437-1954. Paul Knuth is Northern Wisconsin Field Coordinator for Kagan and can be reached at 715-614-4119.
The SBA can be reached directly in Milwaukee at 414-297-3941 or in Madison at 608-441-5263. The SBA website is http://web.sba.gov.
Amanda Dietrich in Representative Kagan’s office, 920-380-0061, is another resource.
The USDA Rural Development Wisconsin State Office in Stevens Point can be reached at 715-345-7600.