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Tap into a small-business loan

Looking to start your own business? A small-business loan might help.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — At a time when many companies are scaling back, Melanie Paul decided to start a business.

"It was very scary, but I found it very rewarding," Paul said.

She was unemployed and, after applying for some new jobs, found it was better to work for herself. She now provides accounting services for various local companies.

At first, Paul looked into a federal Small Business Administration loan to get started.

"The amount of time it took me to fill out the paperwork kind of scared me away," she said.

If passed, President Barack Obama's proposed $30 billion funding proposal for small businesses could make it easier for entrepreneurs to tap into SBA loans.

"I think its a boom for everyone," said Ivan Hankins, the SBA area manager for 34 North Carolina counties.

His office has approved more than 740 business loans in the past six months for nearly $2 million.

"That is a 76 percent increase over last year this time, so it is making a difference," he said. "But is there still a lot to do out there? You bet there is."

Hankins says he's seen a mix of people laid off from long-time jobs now looking to work for themselves and existing small businesses looking for new opportunities to expand.

He says he tells potential entrepreneurs not to be frightened by the sluggish economy.

"The best thing I tell anyone who wants to get into business right now or expand: 'Get that business plan model put together, and we have the resources that can help them do that for free,'" Hankins said.

Paul's new business is going so well that she is already looking to expand, and if there are more funds available, she'll revisit the SBA loan process.

"I would definitely take advantage of that if I am in that situation again," she said.



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