Small biz loans scarce for boro entrepreneurs

By Stephen Stirling

The number of loans approved for small businesses in Queens has dropped drastically in the last fiscal year and fallen by more than in any other borough, according to recent report by a Manhattan think tank.

The Center for an Urban Future released a report this week that showed that the dollar amount of loans approved to Queens businesses plummeted by more than $48 million in 2008 when compared to the previous year.

According to the report, 716 loans totaling $59.7 million were approved to small businesses in the borough in the 2008 fiscal year, down from 1,268, totaling $107.7 million in 2007 — a decline of more than 43 percent.

The report said Queens lost more funding than any other borough during the last year, which Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jack Friedman attributed to a large number of mom−and−pop style small businesses.

“We have a disproportionate number of new businesses and small businesses in Queens,” Friedman said. “Those are the ones that are probably in the toughest spot right now.”

Friedman said the Queens Chamber has been reaching out to small businesses in the borough to find alternatives to the traditional small business loan offered by banks.

“We’re working with those companies to try to work on micro−financing,” he said. “We’re trying to help them get smaller loans that can help them stay in business while the economy recovers. That way, down the road they can hopefully get that larger loan for expansion.”

Friedman said the impact of small business loans in the borough may not be felt immediately.

“We have not seen a lot of businesses going out of business. That’s not to say we’re not concerned about next year,” he said. “We’re not tremendously optimistic, we’re concerned.”

Friedman said it is especially important for small businesses today to have a formalized plan when they do approach a bank for a loan.

If loans are not available, however, he stressed borrowers should do their homework on what may be available — including smaller grants and loans that can stem the tide until the economy improves.

“We think these guys are starting to get swallowed up in their bills and they need to know there is an alternative,” he said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

More from Around New York