Small businesses squeezed out of loans

Buckling under the subprime crisis and a limping economy, many banks are turning off the money taps to local entrepreneurs in Florida, forcing some to put their dreams on ice or scale back plans to expand.

The Small Business Administration, which provides banks with guarantees to encourage them to lend to entrepreneurs that might not otherwise qualify, reported Wednesday it had backed 2,337 loans worth $571.2 million in the South Florida District, which covers 24 counties south of Orlando, from October through June. That's down 31 percent in volume and 9 percent in dollar terms versus the same period last year.

One entrepreneur who's losing out is Mario Agudelo, who at 67 says he is still young enough to turn Del Sur Trading, the company he runs out of his Kendall home, into a thriving enterprise. But first, he needs a loan.

Read the complete story at