San Diego Business Journal Taylor Research Honored As SBA Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Consumer confidence in the nation's economy rebounded in May, lifted by optimism about future economic conditions.

So said the Consumer Research Center of the New York, N.Y.-based Conference Board, a private research group.

The board's index measures consumer confidence, using 1985 as a base of 100. This month's figures rose from April's figure of 109.9 to 115.5. Economists had predicted the index would reach 111.0 during May, said Lynn Franco, director of the research center.

The survey, based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, suggests that consumers are in a mood to spend. Such spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic output, she said.

The survey results also show rising confidence about job prospects over the next six months , despite concern about the current job market. Consumers claiming jobs were hard to get increased to 14.7 percent from 14.2 percent while those reporting jobs were plentiful slipped to 39.5 percent from 40.1 percent, Franco said.

However, 13.8 percent of consumers expect more jobs to become available, up from 12.3 percent. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available declined from 22.9 percent to 19.9 percent, she said.

Consumers expecting an upswing in business conditions increased to 16.8 percent from 14.1 percent in April. Those anticipating conditions to worsen declined to 13.5 percent from 14.5 percent a month earlier, the survey said.

The report also showed American families are more upbeat about their incomes. Today, 24.6 percent of consumers look for their incomes to climb, up from 22.7 percent in April, Franco said.

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Woman Of The Year:

Susan Taylor, founder of Taylor Research, has been named as the local Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year for 2001 by the San Diego office of the Small Business Administration.

The award was presented during a banquet on May 24, co-sponsored by the SBA and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Taylor founded the market research firm in 1956, in the early days of market research. The firm began around her kitchen table, where she hired fellow faculty wives from San Diego State University to help collect surveys door to door, said Ivan Hawkins, a spokesman for the SBA.

Today, Taylor Research is one of San Diego's largest market research support firms, with a 15,000-square-foot facility in Mission Valley and employing more than 100 full- and part-time employees. The firm posted more than $3 million in revenues last year, Hawkins said.

No Man's Land:

There's a growing gap small businesses face when it comes to finding adequate financing to continue growing.

Doug Tatum, chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Tatum CFO Partners, LLP, testified May 17 before the House Small Business Committee on how federal and private policies affect access to non-governmental lending, and whether the needs of small- and mid-size businesses are being met.

"One of the most crucial issues facing emerging growth companies is the problem of finding adequate financing to continue the growth of the company," Tatum told the panel. "Certain levels of even profitable growth can cause a business to turn cash flow negative at an ever-increasing rate."

Most small and growing companies have no problem finding funding from various sources. However, when it comes to capital needs of less than $1 million, companies enter what Tatum calls "No Man's Land."

The problem is that venture capital is too big to invest at smaller levels, while the collapse of the dot-com scene has burned angel investors. Banks, meanwhile, find loans to these companies too risky, making the 'capital gap' between $250,000 and $1 million into a chasm, he said.

Tatum proposed a limited tax deferral to help bridge that gap. Reps. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and Brian Baird, D-Wash., both members of the House Small Business Committee, are helping to develop and refine the proposal.

The "Bridge Act," as it is tentatively called, is expected to be introduced as a bill in the near future, with a hearing to follow.

The proposed Bridge Act would allow a temporary deferral of up to $250,000 of federal income tax liability when a firm's revenues (gross receipts) are 10 percent or more above its average revenues for the prior two years.

The deferral would be repayable with interest over a four-year installment period, beginning two years after the year of the tax deferral. For a business to be eligible, it must use accrual accounting and have annual gross receipts of $10 million or less.

"As one who owned a small business before coming to the House, I am familiar with the devastating effect of capital shortage on business operations and survivability," DeMint said. "Congress must recognize the harm of a tax code that discourages small business capital retention on the U.S. economy and employment."

Tatum CFO has 23 offices nationwide, including one in San Diego.

Send small business and retail items to Zion at lzion@sdbj.com, or call (858) 277-6359, Ext. 112. The deadline for the June 18 issue is June 8.