Gillibrand, SBA chief promote lending to firms

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (c) and Maria Contreras-Sweet (r), head of the SBA, discussed government loans available to start-ups and small businesses at the Chatham Brewing Company July 25. Their host was Tom Crowell (l), one of the brewery's owners. Photo by Emilia Teasdale.

 

CHATHAM–United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and federal Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet toured Chatham Brewing on Main Street in the village Friday, July 25. Their tour guide was Tom Crowell, co-owner of the brewery.

After late afternoon the tour Sen. Gillibrand and Ms. Contreras-Sweet hosted a roundtable conversation on helping local businesses access financing and support with several business owners from the region and bank representatives.

Ms. Contreras-Sweet said that she was interested in hearing how the Small Business Administration (SBA) was helping the local businesses. “That’s what we’re here to learn about, how we can do our business better,” she said

 

“Fed Ex started with a SBA loan. Ben and Jerry started with a SBA loan,” she told the panel of over 20 people. Though she said there are many success stories started with SBA loans, she said it was important to get the information out about the loans as an option for not just starting a business but helping already existing companies.

She also said that there are business centers that can help guide local for-profit businesses in the area. “What SBA wants to do is be full service,” Senator Gillibrand told the panel. She has been taking Ms. Contreras-Sweet around the state looking at local businesses.

Martha Lane, the Business Development Specialist for the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, said that she helps administers SBA funds for the county. She told the panel, “We do have money to lend.”

“We are looking for every tool that we can to grow the economy,” said Ms. Contreras-Sweet.

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