VEAZIE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --At a Small Business Adminstration event at Qualey Granite in Veazie Thursday morning, Business owner Matt Qualey thanked Bangor Savings Bank for lending him and his brother the money to invest and grow. They now employ 15 people in a renovated building. Access to capital is vital for this company's success.
"It's the lifeblood of this business ,very very critical," Qualey said.
Bangor Savings Bank President Jim Conlon says there's money to lend, to other small businesses who qualify, but the problem is many businesses are nervous right now because of the fiscal cliff, which is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that automatically go into effect on January 1st if Congress fails to act. Some economists say that could drive the nation into another recession. Conlon says that uncertainty is giving small businesses pause.
"What they tell me is they want consistency in the regulatory environment. Tell me the rules to play by, and don't change the rules," explained Conlon.
Michael Aube, the president of Eastern Maine Development Corporation, echoes those sentiments. He says beginning in June, small businesses in Eastern Maine were starting to invest more but that's now coming to a halt.
"Small businesses are poised to grow particularly in our area here but again the uncertainty, what a lot of them will tell us they went through the recession two and a half three years ago they had to lay off their friends and neighbors and family, they don' want to do that again," Aube said.
Part of the gridlock in Washington is on the impact of the presidents proposed tax increases on those earning more than $250 thousand a year. Republicans say that is a jobs killer that will hurt small businesses, but the small businesses here didn't feel that way. Kurt and Kathy Cressey own Pack Baskets of Maine, a true mom and pop based in Orrington.
"It won't kill small businesses," said Cressey, "What it will do is it will stifle middle income (people) because small and big businesses are going to be forced to pass on those increases in taxes and it's the average consumer that's going to have to pick up the tab."
Conlon agrees that there are many other issues facing small businesses in Maine that are far more critical than a tax increase on those earning $250 thousand or more.
"I think most of the folks in Maine would love to have the worry that they're making over 250 thousand dollars and will have to pay more taxes. I think most of the businesses would say bring it on we'd be thrilled with that."
According to the SBA, Small businesses, which are those with fewer than 500 employees account for 97 percent of employers in the state or 147,484 businesses.
Thursdays event in Veazie was put on by the SBA to recognize Bangor Savings Bank as the top SBA lender in 2012.