East Bay businesses cheer Obama's plan

March 16, 2009 5:29:26 PM PDT
Since last year, after the first round of government bank bailouts was handed out, the owners of one Jack London Square restaurant have had a sign hanging outside asking for help. On Monday they got it.

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On Monday President Barack Obama described small businesses as "The heart of the country's economy," as he unveiled a plan that could provide much needed assistance to small business owners.

Struggling retailers and restaurateurs in the Bay Area cheered the news but one family-owned business has not been shy about their frustrations with Washington.

Customers still crave the barbecue but business is slow at Evertt and Jones restaurant. Owner Dorothy King has been asking not so discreetly for all the help she can get.

"We as small businesses just need some type of subsidy so we can continue to hire people and run our businesses," she told ABC7.

Just last week, she backed out of a deal to open another restaurant at the Oakland International Airport because she could not get a bank loan. She tried to buy the restaurant space she leases but could not get a loan for that either.

"One of the main banks that got two bailouts were the ones that initially turned us down," she said.

On Monday King and other small business owners cheered President Obama's aid package designed to help people just like them. Experts say the plan will stimulate an important and sometimes forgotten sector of the country's economy.

"About 70 percent of all new jobs in America are created by small businesses," said Terry Connelly, Dean of Golden Gate University School of Business.

Tough times have forced one Mill Valley clothing store to get creative with their signage.

"Everyone says it's a very clever sign, and my answer to that is clever doesn't pay the bills," said owner Larry Lautzker.

Small business administration loans would be easier to get under the new plan. Lautzker hopes he can hang on to take advantage of the promises. Business is half of what it normally is and even though help is on the way, it is too soon to take the signs down.

"I jokingly say a year to two years, because I don't doubt that I'll need to," he said.

President Obama said one of the goals of the small business plan is to help businesses hire more employees.

In a telling sign of the times at Evertt and Jones, the restaurant recently advertised that they had two job openings. 500 people applied.

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