Pressing for a share of help

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The marine industry is putting on a full-court-press to get assistance from Washington that will unlock floorplan and consumer credit, even while President Obama announced yesterday the freeing up of billions for small business.

The President finally acknowledged small businesses are the key to economic recovery since better than 70 percent of all jobs created over the past 10 years came in small businesses. I say “finally,” because I long ago became fed up with Washington’s “too big to let fail” blinders that blocked their view that small businesses, like marine dealers, have been going down the tubes due to dried up credit lines. 

The key to this latest Obama plan is that the government will spend up to $15 billion to buy the small-business loans that are now supposedly choking community banks and lenders. Theoretically, that could allow those banks to start lending money again to small firms to pay bills and stay afloat. Sadly, $15 billion isn’t nearly enough. AIG, for example, has already received more than $170 billion!

So, it leads me to believe there may be as much politics behind this program as heart. After all, the President is surely aware of the growing displeasure on Main Street with the hundreds of billions propping up so-called financial giants who made brainless decisions while small businesses have done nothing wrong and still get screwed over.
Politics and insufficient funds aside, however, our industry continues its push for a piece of the pie.

NMMA and MRAA are aggressively pursuing support in the halls of Congress and at the Federal Reserve to include funds for floorplanning and consumer purchases of boats. (See last Tuesday’s “Dealer Outlook” for more details.) This would come from the $200 billion TALF program. We must keep up this pressure or get left behind. Moreover, in spite of GE’s recent move that clobbers dealers with rate increases, we need to see GE able to tap into these funds, too.

Bottom line: (1) Help now by taking the action recommended in last Tuesday’s “Dealer Outlook.” (2) Watch for every detail coming out within the month on this latest small business program announced yesterday. (3) Once well informed, go aggressively to seek available local loans and credit. In this case, the early birds may be the only ones to get a worm.

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