Business owner shakes president’s hand

Eleni Sica, owner of Crossroads Wine and Spirits in Grand Junction, received a Small Business Adminstration loan last year.

More loans such as the one that enabled Eleni Sica to expand Crossroads Wine and Spirits into a new building will be available to other business owners under legislation signed Monday.

Crossroads owner Eleni Sica sat in the front row as President Barack Obama signed the measure, which is intended to fund $14 billion in similar loans administered by the Small Business Administration.

“We expect there to be very strong demand,” for the loans, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.

The loans include a 90 percent guarantee by the administration, “So we’re able to put the wind at the back” of entrepreneurs who would otherwise not qualify for loans, Mills said.

Sica obtained her SBA 504 loan a year ago, just before credit under the loan program dried up, she said.

“I fortunately had passed through already,” Sica said.

The ability to construct the 8,500-square-foot building at 611 24 Road made it possible for her to add specialty foods, as well, Sica said.

Since obtaining her loan, she has hired two people, bringing her staff to two full-time and eight part-time employees, Sica said.

There are 1,400 people whose applications for similar loans are on hold.

“Now, with the passing of this bill, those 1,400 people will be approved,” Sica said.

There are no applicants in the Grand Valley, the SBA said.

Mills called the bill the “most significant small-business legislation in the past 10 years and said business owners also will benefit from its provisions reducing or eliminating fees that can run from $15,000 to $50,000.

That money can be put into capital investment or new employment, Mills said.

The legislation includes $505 million that will be used to supply the $14 billion in loans.

The legislation also includes $30 billion to go to community banks to be used for small-business loans, Mills said.

Eight new small-business tax cuts, all effective as of Monday, also are included in the package.

The White House called last week to ask if she could attend the ceremony and she learned Sunday she would be in the front row, giving her the opportunity to shake the president’s hand, Sica said.

From first learning of the invitation to finding out she would be seated at the front “seemed like such a whirlwind,” Sica said.


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