Farmer pledges to aid small businesses

Senate candidate would help business owners get loans and government contracts.
Thursday, October 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:49 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Nancy Farmer chose a tiny hair salon called Unlimited Editions at the Parkade Center on Wednesday to talk about her vision for small businesses.

The candidate said she chose Unlimited Editions, owned by Debra and Alvin Harris, because their business was “such a success story.”

“The confidence that (the Harrises) have here is something that I want to bring to every small business in Missouri,” Farmer said.

Debra Harris said the salon has been in business for 10 years.

“I always had a dream to own my own business, to be an entrepreneur,” Harris said. “My husband (is also a hairdresser), so it made sense financially for us to do it together.”

Harris said that so far, their business venture has worked out well. However, she and her husband and their four children cannot afford medical insurance and have had trouble getting loans for their business.

Farmer said she would come to the aid of small business owners by helping them get loans and government contracts and increasing the budget for the Small Business Administration.

Speaking to a handful of reporters and Democratic supporters at the salon, Farmer said small businesses were the engine of economic growth and “we need to do more to support them.”

Farmer said the current administration has not provided the Small Business Administration with adequate resources. Farmer thinks the administration’s allocated budget, which has been cut almost tenfold since 1980, should be tripled to $2.25 billion a year, she said.

Such an increase would allow the administration to triple its support for its major programs, including loan guarantees and small business centers.

“That is a modest investment that will absolutely pay in dividends,” she said.

“We know that access to capital is a stumbling block for so many start-ups, and these loans will jump-start that growth.”

Farmer also said the government needs to work harder to make sure small businesses have access to government contracts.

“You can imagine how hard it is to compete with large corporations for the $250 billion in federal contracts that are available each year,” Farmer said. “As a result of that, taxpayers are paying more to high-priced big contractors but small business firms are missing out on an estimated $13.8 billion in federal contracts.”

Farmer said that as senator, she will hire a liaison to make sure small business owners are aware of government contracts that are up for bid.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of resources to prepare (small businesses) for the road ahead,” Harris said. “We need to have some change in order to survive.”

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