A new national survey by George S. May International Company, a management consultant firm, shows that 62 percent of American small-business owners say they will cross party lines on Nov. 4 to vote for the U.S. presidential candidate whom they believe will do the most to help their companies.
I guess we're left to figure out for ourselves whether that means they will cross over to vote for Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama. I've got my own presumptions, but that's all they are.
Still, what I do know is that "crossing over" is not a decision to be taken lightly by stalwarts on either end of the political spectrum. Casting a vote for the "other guy" would require a serious sense of urgency.
Urgency indeed. The poll of 850 small business owners across the United States found that nearly half say they believe their business is in jeopardy, with 56 percent saying the credit crunch has adversely impacted their business:
• 23 percent cited late-paying customers and vendors.
• 14 percent said their lines of credit were being pulled.
• 9 percent said they were having difficulty making payroll.
• 23 percent said all of the above.
• 31 percent cited other ways, which were not specified.
The poll also showed that 59 percent of small-business owners surveyed feel the federal bailout of $700 billion will not help their business, while 41 percent said they feel it would.
"The results of the survey show that the presidential candidates must connect with the needs of small businesses that together employ the majority of people in America," said Israel Kushnir, president of George S. May International, a Park Ridge, Ill.-based company that has provided management consultant services to business owners since 1925. "Small business owners are concerned about jobs, having access to credit lines to keep their operations going, health care costs for their employees, and taxes. Small businesses across America don't feel that there is a $700 billion bailout for them."
Of those respondents who said they were being impacted by the credit crunch, 13 percent said they have had to dip into their retirement savings, 11 percent said they have had to use personal savings, 11 percent said they have had to use credit cards to help keep their business going and 38 percent said they are waiting this economic turmoil out and, in the meantime, going into debt.
Meanwhile, 27 percent said they were exploring other ways to handle the financial problems facing their business.
You can read more about how the credit crunch is affecting Milwaukee-area businesses in the cover story of this week's Small Business Times at www.biztimes.com. The report documents how the terms in which banks borrow money from other banks have changed. Consequentially, the banks are changing the terms in which they are lending money to commercial borrowers. Suffice to say, banks are raising the bar. Some are cutting back and even revoking lines of credit to businesses.
The most troubling aspect of the credit crunch is that some local businesses are struggling to find credit to expand their companies, even when they have new work orders in hand. If businesses can't get credit to buy new equipment, expand their plants or hire more employees, how can we grow ourselves out of this mess?
Here's hoping the $700 billion bailout plan does what its proponents say it was intended to do ... To enable banks to make more credit available to Main Street. If all the bailout does is repair the bottom lines of the banks that made bad loans, and if that money is not passed along to be available to businesses and consumers, then what's the point?
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.