Give credit to entrepreneurs for keeping America humming

  • By Pat Sisneros and Lynne Munoz Herald Columnists
  • Sunday, October 18, 2009 9:23pm
  • Business

An entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in this country’s DNA.

Many of our founding fathers were small-business owners. Our success as a country is a testament to the millions of small companies that have lifted the economic and social vitality of entire communities and this nation.

Unfortunately, too many small businesses with rich and storied histories have become casualties of the recession. The economic pain has been widespread across many different industries. However, we need to remember that entrepreneurs creating and growing businesses will lead any economic recovery out of the Great Recession.

It will be entrepreneurs’ endearing optimism, relentless focus on innovation and passion for their businesses that will play a major role in getting this country back on track.

We’re concerned that too much media and political attention is paid to the struggles of large companies, resulting in a loss of focus supporting the primary growth engine for new jobs and an economic recovery — small business. This means improving the business climate to create an environment where more small businesses can thrive.

Access to credit crucial

There have been numerous stories in the business press recently concerning the challenges of obtaining credit for many small business owners, even for more established enterprises. In a time of great uncertainty, it is not surprising banks and other lending institutions are much more cautious about the loans they do make — especially to a higher risk group — small businesses.

Unfortunately, this situation creates a “What’s first: The chicken or the egg?” problem. Banks are looking for greater certainty that the economy is doing better — so that the businesses they do make loans to will generate enough demand from customers to pay back the loans on time. Small businesses need access to credit, especially in a struggling economy, to start a business or grow their enterprise.

The result is a cycle where the economy continues to struggle because small business can’t tap into the resources to expand and grow their business and lender institutions don’t see signs of improvement giving them the confidence to expand the availability of credit to business.

It’s not clear to us what breaks this vicious cycle, but what is clear is we can’t have a recovery without small business driving job creation.

Get politically involved

The political discourse has been pretty heated recently, particularly this past summer around the health care reform debate. It seems like we can no longer disagree with each other without being disagreeable. Name-calling seems to be more commonplace — especially on the cable TV political shows where conflict drives ratings.

It would be easy to disconnect from the noise of such an environment, but now is not the time.

We believe it is more critical than ever for entrepreneurs to stay actively engaged in the political process. Political leaders are making important decisions at every level of government that directly affect the future of every small-business owner — especially in the areas of taxes, health care reform, business regulation and energy policies.

Our political leaders need to hear what’s working and what’s not for the small-business community — so they can make informed decisions.

Or better yet, throw your hat in the ring and run for office.

Pat Sisneros is the vice president of college services at Everett Community College. Lynne Munoz is director for the School of Business Design. Please send your comments to

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