Last October when I spoke with Maryann Ferenc the owner of the Tampa, Fla.-based Mise en Place, a restaurant and catering event business about the government bailout, she found the whole thing rather distressing. At the time she told me: “As an independent business person for the past 23 years, there have been times when I had to close my businesses because of financial necessity. No one helped me, and I don’t think they should. I had to change my lifestyle when I made decisions that were less than fabulous. But I learned a lot and came out on the other side a better business person. It’s a good lesson for Corporate America to go through. People need to pay for their mistakes. We need to hold people responsible for the decisions they make…”
Fast forward to this week: Ferenc calls President Obama’s plan to help small businesses an opportunity as opposed to a bailout. “I think the fact that the plan is so accessible to the average small business person is a huge step forward,” she says. “Also I think it reflects a cultural shift and that is what we really needed because the big bailout to the major financial institutions happened without a cultural shift. The money was used by the same people with the same values and practices that got them in trouble in the first place.” Ferenc who received an SBA backed loan 14 years ago and hasn’t applied for another since then having found the process too onerous says that Obama’s package will encourage more lending by banks to small businesses. “They really have the incentive to do so and that kind of opens up an avenue that I thought was closed before,” she says.
Looking at the plan Ferenc says that she is particularly interested in looking at the health plan proposals, a possible loan for expansion, and is interested in finding out more about the capital gains listed that might benefit a small business. These are things, she says “that will get us through the rest of the year. In 2010 we will have something to look forward to instead of something dismal.”