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McNerney pitches program at Manteca Ford
Congressman Jerry McNerney, right, is given a tour of Manteca Ford by dealership owner Phil Waterford on Thursday - photo by HIME ROMERO
Congressman Jerry McNerney , D-Pleasanton, strongly believes in the Small Business Act.

Never mind that it’s an election year.

“The law has already been passed and signed (by President Obama) and is independent of the upcoming election,” he said during his stop at Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford on Thursday.

In November, McNerney is expected to face a stiff challenge from David Harmer, R-San Ramon, in hopes of serving a second term as representative of California’s 11th Congressional District.

How tough the race is was reflected in the fact McNerney was being followed by a New York Times reporter on his Manteca visit who was reporting on the close race.

He met Waterford when the owner of the local Ford dealership was in Washington, D.C., seeking support in the form of federal stimulus money during tough economic times.

Waterford survived that rough patch and his business has since taken an upturn. He did so without trimming his work force.

“We haven’t lost an employee in six years,” said Waterford, owner of the car dealership for 15 years.

He and David Baiocchi of J.M. Equipment Company, Inc. are considered small business owners.

Never mind that J.M. Equipment has been in business for 75 years, with dealerships in Manteca, Fresno, Patterson and West Sacramento.

According to Jim O’Neal, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Sacramento, small business is defined as “sole proprietorship” to that of “500 employees.”

Baiocchi also considered streamlining his operation during the tough time. He knew that closing down even one of the stores would cost jobs not to mention losing customers to the competition.

J.M. Equipment also persevered, moving into the old Sexton Chevrolet building at 321 Spreckels Ave.

“We preserved our customer base,” Baiocchi said. “We didn’t lose one customer nor did we lose one employee.”

Concerns for small businesses was what brought McNerney to Manteca. He took up on Waterford’s invitation to meet with area folks to discuss the SBA, which, McNerney says, can bring prosperity to the Central Valley by creating new jobs.

“We have the resources, we have the people. I think we can do it,” he said.

O’Neal noted that the bill has many incentives including the Small Business Lending Fund.

The SBA loan comes with a 90 percent guaranty and fee waiver.

The banks involved can also prosper,” O’Neal said.
“They can make loans that they ordinarily wouldn’t do,” he added. “Banks live on liquidity.”

SBA fees are typically financed into the loan amount.

 Thanks to the waiver, small businesses can keep the money in the cash flow, O’Neal said.

As for time tables, he told the group at Manteca Ford that the process takes about six to eight weeks once the application is completed, pending bank approval.

Since the Act was signed, O’Neal said, SBA nationally supported more than $19 billion in lending to small businesses.

“California is expected to make up 25 percent,” he said. “We’re big.”

Waterford took McNerney through a tour of his dealership. The congressman talked to some of the Manteca Ford employees, including Quick Lane manager Tom Benson.
“It’s not every day that (a U.S. representative) comes by your work,” he said.

McNerney believes that SBA will provide a boost to existing companies to expand and possibly thrive with help from the banks.

“I think it will allow incentives for small start-up businesses,” he said.

McNerney’s visits to the Central Valley are reminiscent of America’s heartland.

“I enjoy coming to Manteca,” he said. “It has a small-town feel like the Midwest.”