ABA President Gayle Shanks Urges Congress to Support Small Businesses

ABA President Gayle Shanks Urges Congress to Support Small Businesses

On Monday, February 9, as Congress worked to quickly pass the Obama Administration's stimulus package, American Booksellers Association President Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, urged the Congressional leadership to continue its support for small businesses in crafting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R.1).ABA is also calling on all member booksellers to contact their legislators in Washington as soon as possible to urge support for the bill's small-business provisions.

In her letter, Shanks thanked the Congressional leadership for "recognizing the crucial importance of small businesses and for keeping the small business provisions in the current version" of the economic stimulus bill, and she urged them to remember the "value of small businesses" as they create the final version of the bill. (To read the full text of Shanks' letter, click here.)

A vote on the economic stimulus bill could come as early as Tuesday, February 10. If it passes the Senate, the U.S. Congressional Conference Committee will adjudicate the bill, and there are no guarantees regarding what provisions will, or won't, remain in the final bill. As such, ABA is calling on booksellers to adapt Shanks' letter and send it to their legislators in both the House and the Senate today.

Among other provisions, the economic stimulus bill that passed the House in late January increases the guarantee on Small Business Administration loans for lenders, which will induce commercial lenders to lend while also providing capital for entrepreneurs through a new debt-refinancing program. The bill also contains provisions to unclog frozen secondary credit markets, which in recent months have stopped working, denying private lenders the liquidity they need to make additional loans. Providing this fresh capital to entrepreneurs is expected to result in the creation or retention of 400,000 jobs, more than 15 percent of the jobs the economy shed last year.



February 9, 2009

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
H232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable John Boehner
Republican Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
H204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
S221, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Republican Leader
U.S. Senate
S230, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, and House Minority Leader Boehner:

I'm writing on behalf of the American Booksellers Association's 1,700 member bookstores to thank you for recognizing the crucial importance of small businesses and for keeping the small business provisions in the current version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Independent businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and their survival and long-range health are key drivers of our nation's overall economic well-being. I urge you to remember the value of small businesses as you create a final version of the economic stimulus package.

ABA fully supports the recent comments of Sen. Mary Landrieu, chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, chair of the House Small Business Committee, in asking that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contain the following essential provisions that will help small businesses:

  • Reduced fees on government-backed small business loans, which will make new loans more affordable so small businesses can grow and succeed, creating jobs, and strengthening the economy.
  • $515 million to temporarily eliminate fees associated with 7(a) loans, the most common type of SBA-backed loan. Reducing lender fees could stimulate as much as $15 billion in small business loans.
  • A $100 million appropriation for the temporary waiver of fees on 504 loans, which provide long-term financing to small businesses that are expanding and need to buy equipment, facilities, or other fixed assets.
  • Funding for the SBA's Microloan Program, which provides very small loans to qualifying small businesses. That includes $6 million to handle the increase in demand from micro-businesses crowded out of other financing sources as a result of the credit crisis. This will create or retain an estimated 10,000 jobs.
  • $30 billion in targeted tax relief provisions, which will help small firms improve cash flow. By providing a five-year carryback of net operating losses, the bill would enable businesses to write off 90 percent of losses incurred in 2008 and 2009 against taxes assessed over the previous five years.
  • An extension of small business expensing, doubling the amount enterprises can immediately write off on their taxes for capital investments and for purchases of new equipment in 2009.

There is no question that we need immediate action to stem the tide of economic recession. According to the U.S. Labor Department, 598,000 jobs were cut in January, and 1.8 million jobs were lost over the last three months. As Sen. Landrieu recently said: "If we are going to get out of this mess, small businesses will lead the way. It is imperative that we give these firms the resources they need -- access to capital, counseling, and contracting programs -- so that they can succeed and create new jobs." I could not agree more.

Every analysis shows that small businesses have a far greater economic impact on communities than larger, chain businesses; they contribute more to local charities; and they are largely responsible for our villages, towns, and cities retaining their unique characteristics. If the current downward economic spiral continues, the attendant losses of sales tax and other revenues will further widen the budget deficits of municipalities and states nationwide, which will only increase the demand for federal assistance in the face of spreading economic loss and pain. And, locally owned, independent businesses will begin to close at an alarming rate.

Again, thank you for supporting small businesses in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Thank you for your time.


Gayle Shanks
President, American Booksellers Association
Tarrytown, New York

Co-owner, Changing Hands Bookstore
Tempe, Arizona