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Industry groups hopeful about small-business bill

Industry groups are applauding Thursday's passage in Congress of HR 5297, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010.

The legislation will extend the Small Business Administration's Dealer Floor Plan Program for marine and other product dealers to 2013 from its current expiration date later this month. The bill also raises loan caps from $2 million to $5 million and enables a 100 percent advance rate.

It now heads to President Barack Obama's desk for his signature.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Marine Retailers Association of America and the National Marine Bankers Association are among the industry groups that lobbied for the bill.

In June, NMMA president Thom Dammrich appeared before the Senate Small Business Committee to urge inclusion of these provisions in the final legislation. The NMMA and the marine industry were also mentioned several times during floor debate.

"An expanded and enhanced SBA DFP program will more effectively serve those already participating, while allowing other businesses the opportunity to take advantage of what it has to offer," Dammrich said in a statement. "Congress has now provided a great deal of certainty with this program and we strongly encourage lenders to utilize this important program to get credit flowing again to responsible marine companies throughout the United States."

Extending the program to 2013 will attract a greater number and variety of lenders, shifting the focus away from large financial institutions to the preferred regional and local lenders that serve as long-term partners for small businesses.

The increase in loan caps from $2 million to $5 million will help dealers and manufacturers, who often hold $5 million of inventory at a time, build new manufacturing facilities or purchase specialized equipment.

In addition, the 100 percent advance rate conforms to standard industry practice.

Outside the SBA DFP Program, the legislation establishes a Small Business Lending Fund that would make $30 billion in low-cost capital available to banks with assets under $10 billion to lend to small businesses. The bill also includes more than $12 billion in important, targeted tax relief.

The NMBA called the legislation a key to saving jobs within recreational boating.

"We believe the enhancements made in the new SBA DFP Program will more effectively serve both marine dealers and bankers, whether they are participating now or had been considering participation. It should allow small business dealers and bankers new opportunities to take advantage of what it has to offer," NMBA president Karen Trostle said in a statement. "A great deal of certainty of this program has now been instilled by Congress, so it's time for dealers and bankers throughout the U.S. to get involved. We will reach out to our members, associates and friends right away."

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