N.R.A. lauds Obama's small business proposals

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — Beth Johnson, the National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of public affairs, was present at the White House during President Barack Obama’s announcement of proposals to aid small business and his words were "welcomed" by the N.R.A.

"We welcome President Obama’s focus on small businesses, which create a majority of new jobs in the country and are key to our nation’s economic strength and recovery," she said. "Our members are telling us they need credit, especially those looking to expand and create new positions. The President’s proposals should help restaurateurs and small-business owners across the nation succeed in this very challenging economy."

N.R.A. is especially pleased to see the Administration moving forward to purchase securities backed by Small Business Administration loans to unfreeze the credit market for small businesses, issue guidance on the expanded net operating loss carry-back period for small businesses, and reduce the cost of lending for borrowers and lenders, she said.

"As an industry that is comprised mainly of small, independent businesses, restaurants have historically been among the largest users of S.B.A. programs," she added. "More than 98% of restaurant firms are classified as a small business under the S.B.A. definition, and it is for this reason that expanding access to S.B.A.-guaranteed loans is of particular importance for the restaurant industry."

Expanding the flow of capital to the restaurant industry is a critical component of job creation and preservation, Ms. Johnson said.

"Like small-business owners in other industries, many restaurant operators are struggling through their most challenging environment in decades, as households continue to hold back on spending," she added. "However, the restaurant industry differs from many other industries in that it is extremely labor-intensive, which means a larger number of employees are needed in restaurants to generate a certain amount in sales. Expanding access to capital will help restaurant operators meet their day-to-day payroll needs, thereby preserving thousands of jobs that would otherwise be lost if restaurants were forced to downsize operations or close their doors completely during the current recession."

In the past decade, restaurants created 2 million jobs, and the restaurant industry can do so again with the right economic, regulatory and tax policies in place, Ms. Johnson pointed out.

"The measures announced (March 16) are a very positive step in that direction," she said.

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