ASTA Pushes SBA for Direct Loans to Agents

ASTA congratulated Karen Gordon Mills on her nomination by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and said it will continue to press for direct loans to small businesses. ASTA also welcomed SBA action to address the credit crisis.

"The Administrator of the SBA will be called upon to help the small business community to navigate the challenges of a sustained economic downturn," said ASTA president and chair Chris Russo. "Small business travel agents and other business owners are looking for creative, bold leadership in these difficult times. We look forward to working with Karen Gordon Mills in the months and years to come."

In a letter congratulating Mills on the nomination and welcoming future dialogue with SBA on industry issues, ASTA also praised the SBA staff for taking two important regulatory steps to address the credit crisis: permitting section 7(a) loans to use the LIBOR as a base rate for variable interest rate loans, and using Weighted Average Coupons to facilitate the assembly of secondary market pools.

On November 17, Russo wrote to Acting SBA Administrator Sandy K. Baruah to request that the SBA create a new program to make direct loans to small businesses.  After the attacks of September 11, 2001, a similar program provided emergency loans to small businesses who had suffered economic hardship as a result of the attacks. Among the businesses saved by that program were hundreds of travel agencies, ASTA said.

"It now appears that the SBA will not act on our request for assistance before the end of the current Administration," said Russo. "However, ASTA continues to believe that such a program would be a welcome addition to the pool of federal resources available to help small businesses to obtain capital during the credit crisis, and we are taking our request for expedited direct lending to the President-elect in the hopes that the new Administration will act on the request early in the new year."

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