Las Vegas business owners are as divided as Congress over the Small Business Jobs Bill that passed the Senate 61-38 on Thursday with the support of two Republicans.
Some Las Vegas business owners like it. Some don’t.
The state’s two senators are also divided. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted for it, but Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., voted against it.
The bill provides for $30 billion in government funding, enables businesses to refinance owner-occupied real estate through the Small Business Administration, increases the maximum for some Small Business Administration loans and waives some fees.
"It will be a temporary fix," said Christina Hahn, president of Hahn’s World of Surplus and of the Nevada Association of Independent Businesses. "We need tax relief. We need regulatory reform. We need the government out of our business."
On the other hand, Robert Gomez, owner of Magic Brite Janitorial and past chairman of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, supported the measure.
But, he added: "Is it the final cure-all? That’s to be debated."
He called small business the engine of the economy, which should be given "a tune up" following the government bailout of automakers and big banks.
Small business access to conventional loans and credit lines has dried up at banks during the recession, Gomez said. "This is an issue that needed to be addressed for some time."
Floyd Coons, manager of Master Shooter’s Supply, predicted the measure will stimulate the economy because small businesses spend like lottery winners.
"Most small businesses have a hard time managing money," Coons said. "When they get money, they spend it." His wife, Mary Coons, for example, owns the gun shop. "I couldn’t do it without her money, because I can’t manage money," he said.
On the other hand, government spending will devalue the dollars individuals save, he said.
Wayne Kodey, who manages Casey’s Cameras for his family, said: "It’s probably a great idea. Anything that helps the small business guy, I’m all for." Kodey said he hasn’t needed to borrow money and said sales have declined.
Phil Stout, executive director of the Nevada State Association of Independent Businesses, said: "All the money in the world isn’t going to help a business unless there are people buying their goods. I would like to see us tighten our belts and start paying down debt."
Darryl Haskins, owner of Clearwater Building Maintenance, opposed the measure as well.
"The last thing we need right now is a multibillion-dollar lending fund and token tax breaks. This is another example of the current administration dreaming up the wrong solution to a serious problem," he said in an e-mail.
"We need sales, and we need new revenue streams. This can only come from investors taking risk and deploying cash and exercising ingenuity to create jobs," Haskins said.
Diane Fearon, chief executive officer of Bank of George, supported the concept of the bill, although she didn’t have all the details for the measure or its $30 billion fund.
"It is an investment that I would expect small banks to use wisely and to support small business," she said.
Some provisions would enable entrepreneurs who own their business premises to refinance commercial real estate loans that are coming due. With property values down, many businesses have difficulty raising 25 percent equity needed to get a loan from a bank, Ann Santiago, vice president and regional loan officer for TMC Development, said this week.
The bill would enable some of these owner-occupants to have only 10 percent equity and obtain a 20-year, fixed-rate loan from the SBA 504 program.
SBA loan guarantees enable banks to make somewhat riskier loans than they would otherwise, said William Uffelman, chief executive of the Nevada Bankers Association. Banks have had difficulty finding qualified projects to finance over the past couple of years, he said, but do not need additional liquidity.
Tom Brede, a spokesman for Reid, said the House is expected to begin debate on the bill in a few days. The House originated the bill and must approve it again. The Senate made no major changes in the bill.
President Barack Obama backed the measure and is expected to sign it.
Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.