Friday, June 4, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

The great lending “disconnect”

Sen. Maria Cantwell’s public appearance on Thursday at WorkSource in Vancouver could not have been better timed.

Coming one day before the release of May statistics showing anemic private sector job growth, Cantwell’s visit highlighted a continuing employment conundrum among small business owners.

The conundrum – best described as a job-killing Catch-22 – is this: despite a rise in demand, customers and orders, businesses still lack sufficient access to credit to hire more workers. Without significant job growth, the economic recovery threatens to stall, putting more pressure on small businesses – pushing back hiring even further down the road.

This, of course, is not news. In the months since I took over the editorial helm at the VBJ, I’ve heard from dozens of small business owners about a lingering freeze in crucial lines of credit.

But here’s something that may not be common knowledge: to a man and woman, local commercial bankers claim they have plenty of money to lend, albeit, to “qualified” applicants.

However, tougher lending standards do not explain the persistent lending “disconnect” between bankers, on one hand, seemingly ready to hand out money; and businesses claiming those same hands are empty, on the other.

In my capacity as an editor of a business publication, I have the nagging desire to get these two separate camps together, to foster understanding and most importantly, to make some deals. It would be a small business banking Woodstock, with the hippie doctrine of “free love” replaced with the perhaps just-as-revolutionary philosophy of “free-flowing capital.”

But it is my job (some say “calling”) to report on and not to intervene in the deal-making, or lack thereof, between our readers.

What I can do, however, is slip a few telephone numbers to any banker or small business owner looking to bridge this economic chasm.

The rules? Keep the conversation friendly, drop the blame game and remember – you two belong together, so hop to it, won’t you?


Anonymous said...

Our bank told us that they would be happy to lend us money, or give us a line of credit. They are fully capable to doing that so long as we have an equal, or greater amount of money in our account to secure the loan, or credit line. We at the bank are doing great though and are happy to help your business grow!