The Advisory Council of Marine Associations wrapped up an all-day meeting in Las Vegas yesterday, calling on MRAA to push President-elect Barack Obama to swiftly make good on his campaign pledges to help small business.
The ACMA meeting leads into the 2008 MRAA Convention, which officially opens today and runs through Wednesday at the Rio Hotel and Casino. Representatives from the major state and regional marine trade associations make up ACMA, which annually sends to the MRAA board recommendations for government relations actions.
Among the major topics taken up by ACMA was the small business platform Obama espoused during the campaign. There were several provisions that could help dealers during this current economic downturn. Among those favored by ACMA members were:
• During the campaign, Obama said he recognized small businesses need direct and immediate access to capital. He called for a “Small Business Rescue Plan” to help firms get loans to cover operating expenses, undertake short-term investments, and meet payrolls.
• His plan would use tools already available through the Small Business Administration to aggressively extend credit to struggling firms.
• He called for a “Nationwide Emergency Lending Facility for Small Businesses.” Just as was done in the wake of Sept. 11, when businesses all around the country were facing economic injury, Obama called for the SBA to directly lend to small businesses that cannot access other sources of capital.
• The program would be run through the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, which is designed to offer affordable fixed-rate loans to small firms to meet operating expenses or to refinance debt.
• Loans should be available on an expedited basis so that firms can access funds to meet their operating expenses immediately.
• Expand SBA’s loan guarantees to encourage private lending to small businesses. He was calling for expanding the SBA’s key loan guarantee programs — 7(a) and 504 — by temporarily eliminating fees for borrowers and lenders and increasing the guarantee rate on private loans.
• Zero capital gains rate for investment in small businesses. Obama said we need to encourage investment in small businesses to help create jobs and turn our economy around. Eliminating all capital gains taxes on investments made in small and start-up businesses would encourage investment and create jobs.
• Grant temporary tax incentives to encourage small businesses to invest in jobs. Small businesses would get an additional incentive to make investments and start creating jobs again by getting business tax incentives through 2009. The February 2008 stimulus bill increased maximum section 179 expenses to $250,000, but this will expire in December unless extended.
Recalling this campaign platform was typical of the good work by the members of ACMA. And amid all the current debate over Detroit’s big 3, it’s important we raise the voice of marine retailers across the country to urge the President-elect to follow through. He did a great job of talking the talk … now America’s boat dealers need him to walk the walk!