July 12, 2009

Section: Business, Page 5B

Paterson seeks help for small business

Steve Sink – Business editor


Amid the utter nonsense spewing forth from Albany the past five weeks, there actually was news of potential value: Gov. David Paterson says he wants to help small businesses.

Paterson ordered a task force he has created to report to him by November on ways to make life easier for small businesses, saying “it is critical that we take steps to ensure small-business enterprise is at the core of any recovery plan.”

Specifically, he said the task force must include plans to:

Reduce regulatory burdens imposed by the state that raise the cost of doing business.
  • Increase access to capital for companies at different stages of development.
  • Develop more programs to help small business owners.
  • Provide for training of a skilled work force.

We asked Tom Ioele, former president of the Small Business Council of Rochester, for his reaction. Ioele was generally supportive, especially of the point about capital.

“There’s not much capital out there right now,” he said.

The credit crunch that developed two summers ago has hurt small businesses tremendously, Ioele said, forcing many to borrow at exorbitant interest rates akin to what the credit card companies are now charging — 23 percent in some cases.

So the biggest boost from the state would be to make more and cheaper capital available.

This reinforces the findings of a recent study by Rochester-based Excell Partners, which said New York lags several other large states in providing both public and private money to help startup technology companies that spring from university research.

If the state doesn’t get its act together in helping these kinds of companies, it’s going to see other states recovering from the recession at a much faster clip.

“We know the big companies are continuing to go through their cuts,” Ioele said. Meanwhile, 75 percent of the jobs being created nationally are at small businesses.

In New York, November can’t come soon enough.