NADCO: Govt Shutdown Cuts Off SMB Oxygen

Some small businesses looking to expand and add jobs may be out of luck as the partial government shutdown continues.

Sixty-two percent of the 3,500 employees at the SBA are furloughed during the shutdown, and all but two of the SBA’s loan programs are indefinitely suspended. Only the disaster loan program and the Inspector General (which facilitates disaster-funded and investigatory activities) are currently up and running.

“Any loans which were under processing are stopped,” says CEO Rohit Arora. And aside from the SBA’s effect on lending, bank loans that need IRS verification will also be halted, as that activity is currently suspended.

Arora says 40% of the 3,000 businesses that came to for funding last month are affected by the shutdown; the remaining small businesses are using alternative lenders or applying for microloans that aren’t overseen by the SBA or the IRS.

While a few days of shutdown may seem inconsequential, Beth Solomon, the president of the National Association of Development Companies, says each day the government isn’t functioning means $13 million in lending isn’t reaching small-business borrowers. The NADCO is the trade association representing SBA-certified development companies and lenders.

“What we’re seeing already is capital access is being severely impaired,” says Solomon. “The uncertainty and lack of capital access will start to impact America’s small businesses, which create two out of every three jobs.”

Solomon also predicts the backlog created by the downtime will, in effect, make small-business loans more expensive to borrowers once the government is back up and running, due to the way the loans get pooled together and sold on Wall Street. Fewer loans processed will mean higher rates for small businesses, which will have long-lasting financial implications, she says.

“Loans are like oxygen in the economy, and we’re asphyxiating the economy with lack of capital,” says Solomon.