MANATEE - With the markets and economy in turmoil, and no bottom in sight, some might think it would be financial suicide to start a small business now.
But downward-sloping stock charts and disappointing employment numbers have proven no barrier to people like Jose Abarca, a retired native of Puerto Rico, who is about to start J.A. Insurance in a small office on 14th Street West. That's not to say he isn't a little fearful. "I've just finished fixing my little office. I should be starting next week, probably, but it's scary," Abarca said. I'm thinking the economy is bad, but I already have made my decision. I'm financing this with what I've saved. I'm not taking any loans. That's the scary part."
With credit frozen in the world markets, and banks not lending to each other -- let alone, small businesses -- many business owners have delayed expansions of their companies or decided not to start up a business in the first place. Althea Harris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Small Business Administration's South Florida district office, recently told the Bradenton Herald that small business loans in Manatee and Sarasota counties were down 31 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
"Not only do we have banks not willing to lend, but you have entrepreneurs not even requesting loans. It's just been a mess," Harris said.
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