The National Main Street Business Coalition yesterday called on House leaders to schedule a public hearing to examine the inability of brick-and-mortar Main Street businesses to secure affordable loans and lines of credit. The letter to Congress, signed by eleven association executives representing traditional Main Street industries, offered perspective on H.R. 4293 —“Restore Main Street’s Credit Act of 2012.” The Coalition also refuted several claims made earlier this week by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).
Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon introduced H.R. 4293 on March 28, just before the House began its spring recess. The bill defines a “Main Street Business” as a brick-and-mortar for-profit business, operating from a physical location other than a home, with 20 or fewer full-time employees. It would make loans to such businesses exempt from the member business-lending cap placed on credit unions.
Regarding H.R. 4293, the Main Street coalition wrote, “H.R. 4293 would restore a path to affordable capital to actual Main Street businesses at no cost to the American taxpayer. Not a bailout or a handout, but a way out of the financial jeopardy that our members continue to encounter.”
In its letter to Congress, the Coalition repudiated ICBA’s assertion that credit unions were behind the introduction of H.R. 4293. “While ICBA attempted to link H.R. 4293…to other credit union business-lending bills, the truth is that the credit unions had nothing to do with the introduction of this legislation,” the Coalition wrote. “That ICBA would utilize such rhetoric in an attempt to cut off a potential financial lifeline for their neighbors along Main Street is disturbing.” Despite ICBA’s opposition, the Coalition said it hopes to work with community banks on enhanced lending solutions for its member businesses.
Though the Main Street Business Coalition’s letter applauded bi-partisan Congressional efforts earlier this year to support other business entities, it noted that, “less attention has been given to retaining local, family-owned businesses that are trying to keep their doors open and their lights on.” One challenge is the wide-reaching scope of Congress’s definition of a “small” business. “This has been the issue all along,” the coalition wrote. “Existing Main Street microbusinesses have been thrown in with larger ‘small’ business interests as Congress attempts to address issues with capital access.”
Reiterating its request for a public hearing, the Coalition asked: “If banks and corporations have proven themselves beneficiaries of policies that recognize that they are ‘too big to fail,’ the lack of effective public policy to sustain and enhance lending to the smallest of small businesses leaves us to humbly ask: are Main Street businesses simply too small to care about?”
For a full version of the National Main Street Business Coalition letter to Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi, click here.