Suppliers come to small businesses' aid

A small business

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Another day, another ripple in the credit crunch.

Banks report they're seeing more loans to small businesses go bad. That means small businesses left standing are having trouble getting credit like they used to and that, in turn, is hurting suppliers that sell to those businesses and so our New York bureau chief Jill Barshay reports they're coming up with some creative solutions.


Jill Barshay: 55 percent of loan officers say they've tightened their lending standards to businesses. So says a new survey by the Federal Reserve.

Dee Smith runs a small construction company in Michigan. He says his bank recently cut back his construction loans.

Dee Smith: They changed the rules during the process to I could only borrow 75 percent of the appraised value and the only way I could do that, quite honestly, is put it on credit cards, which is what I did.

The National Small Business Association says a third of small business owners now carry $10,000 or more on their personal credit cards. Todd McCracken is president of the association.

Todd McCracken: There's not much doubt that small companies are having a harder time getting credit, but it's also the case that with the economic slowdown, we've seen that fewer businesses are out there trying to get credit.

Less credit means less spending on things like software and computers. Suppliers of those products are responding by offering financing at generous terms.

Ross Crane is the Chief Financial Officer of Ingram Micro, a big technology supplier. This year, he started selling software for no money down.

Ross Crane: With the economy the way it is and everyone talking about tight credit availability, what we've done is come out with a new suite of customizable leasing finance options.

Microsoft's boosting its financing arm by almost $800 million and Office Depot will start renting computers later this year.

I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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