Small businesses struggle to get financing from banks

When Jill Holmes was looking for financing to transform the former KFC building in the Fountain District into a bistro last year, she believed she had the credit history and a good business plan to get loan approval.

Banks were interested at first; one decided to finance the remodel. However, this was a time of worsening economic conditions and the bank backed out of the project before giving formal approval, Holmes said.

"We had to scramble to find other financing, which was very difficult because of the economic climate," said Holmes, who also owned the building.

She was eventually able to get financing through North Coast Credit Union, as well as some funding through the Small Business Administration. She opened The Fountain Coffee & Wine Bistro earlier this month, and in the first few weeks sales have exceeded expectations.

The struggles with getting financing for commercial projects is not new; businesses across the country have been struggling to get access to credit since the financial meltdown in the fall of 2008. As banks, particularly community financial institutions, continue to struggling with loan portfolios, the expectation is this economic climate will remain in place throughout much of 2010.

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