What President Obama’s Economic Agenda Means for You

The administration will deploy another $30 million in funding to SBA’s micro-loan program. Of that amount, $24 million will support technical assistance and training programs for entrepreneurs. The remaining $6 million will subsidize loans. Additionally, the stimulus package will provide $100 million to more than 1,000 Community Development Financial Institutions across the country which, in turn, finance a battery of micro-lenders. The $6 million commitment to micro-loan programs is very significant, says Gina Harman, president and CEO of ACCION USA, one of the nation’s largest micro-lenders, whose clients range from home-based ventures to metropolitan restaurants. Over the past six months to a year, a lot of organizations that have supported the smallest of enterprises found it very difficult to find capital to lend to their clients. ACCION awarded loans can be as little as $500 or as much as $50,000, although the typical loan amount is $10,000. Harman urges entrepreneurs to go to their local banks and ask about micro-lenders in their community.

Tax Breaks: Through the Recovery Act, business owners can take advantage of the legislation’s tax provisions, including a tax credit up to $2,400 for employing disadvantaged workers such as veterans and unemployed students who have been out of work for six months; carry back net operating losses over five years instead of two years for any company with less than $15 million in gross receipts; and an increased expensing limit of $250,000 (up from $128,000) for new equipment purchased in 2009.

Tax experts say that these measures can give small companies a much-needed boost. Allowing companies to use current losses to offset profits made in the previous five years, instead of two, makes them eligible for tax refunds.

Industry-specific Projects: Manufacturers and contractors will see a benefit of $120 billion in set-asides for infrastructure projects, namely construction and repair of roads, highways, bridges, railways, sewers, and public transportation systems. So-called “green” businesses that produce solar panels, wind turbines, and advanced batteries can take advantage of $37.5 billion in stimulus funds for clean, efficient, and renewable energy. Another $6 billion in loan guarantees is for renewable energy projects, plus a 30% tax break for investments in wind and solar energy. The president has also set-aside grants for Internet broadband improvements, eco-friendly renovations, and technology research and development.

The government has allocated up to $5 billion in financing to auto suppliers through its Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP), enabling them to continue shipping parts, paying employees, and producing diverse products essential to the auto industry. Additionally, some $300 million in stimulus funds to acquire electric vehicles for the federal fleet, plus tax breaks intended to spur demand for fuel-efficient vehicles could give a boost to auto makers.

Certain businesses, including manufacturers, will benefit from the government’s increased funding for highway projects, aviation, and infrastructure repair. “As the money works through the pipeline you will see various companies and industries benefit from it,” says Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy with the National Association of Manufacturers. “But it is not going to happen overnight.”

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