Small Biz Owners Line Up for Loans

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After record profits for Wall Street in 2009, the Obama administration is making Main Street and small businesses a focus in 2010. In downtown Manhattan, there was a government-sponsored matchmaking event for small businesses and banks. WNYC's Ilya Marritz reports there was attraction, if not exactly love, in the air.

REPORTER: The Small Business Administration actually compares this event to speed dating. Bankers meet business owners, they have five minutes to talk and then they meet someone else.

Waiting in line to make his pitch is Michael Angelo, the owner of Michael Angelo's Wonderland Beauty Parlor in the Meatpacking District. He's thinking he'll pitch himself as strong and stable.

ANGELO: We're about to celebrate our 5th year and we're looking at our first profit.

REPORTER: Now he wants a 50 thousand dollar loan to increase inventories and spend on publicity. Many banks still aren't lending, but the New York office of the Small Business Administration says banks it's working with have increased lending 75 percent from the same period last year. One reason, thanks to the economic stimulus, is the SBA is backing loans up to 90 percent making them pretty safe bets.

Reporters weren't allowed to sit in on the dates. Michael Angelo, from the hair salon, just met with a Wells Fargo representative, and they're already on a first-name basis. He has a feeling they'll stay in touch.

ANGELO: Fred was really nice. He gave me a card and he said will you please send me an email with your business name.

REPORTER: For small businesses looking for loans the SBA says now is the time to act. Lending incentives for banks expire at the end of the month.