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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

Small Business and Retail—Rising interest rates spell trouble for small business

Auto Body Shop Chain Expands Into San Diego

Rising interest rates spell trouble for small business. So said Raymond J. Keating, chief economist with the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Small Business Survival Committee. The SBSC released a report Dec. 14 showing how Federal Reserve policy and tax issues affect access to capital for small businesses.

The report, “Small Business, the Fed and Access to Capital,” states that one of the biggest hurdles for small business owners is acquiring the financial capital necessary to get started, expand or re-tool.

Small businesses and start-ups need access to venture capital, and these small firms benefited from the incentives for investing in entrepreneurial enterprises sparked by the 1997 capital gains tax cut and low-inflation Federal Reserve monetary policy throughout much of the past decade, Keating said.

However, the Federal Reserve’s tightening of monetary policy in late 1999 and earlier this year have dried up funding. Keating called these increases in interest rates “grossly misguided,” as market indicators showed little threat of inflation.

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This has put the brakes on economic growth, and now threatens the country with a more severe economic slowdown or even a possible recession. And small businesses tend to get hit first and hardest, Keating said.

Keating noted that Alan Greenspan admitted as much in a Dec. 5 speech. The Fed chairman had said that financial markets are functioning well, but credit is more expensive and harder to obtain for smaller borrowers.

A series of interest-rate cuts could help restore confidence in the economy , although it might be too late for some, Keating warned.

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Caliber Expands Here: A local collision repair store has been purchased by a chain with facilities in California and Texas.

Caliber Collision Centers, an Irvine-based car repair service, has acquired San Marcos Auto Body in San Marcos. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

This extends Caliber’s position as the largest collision repair provider in San Diego County, which entered the San Diego market in August by acquiring a local chain, Chapparone Auto Body.

Caliber now has nine centers in the county and another two under development, said Rick Reiss, vice president and San Diego regional manager for Caliber.

Caliber is the largest independently operated collision repair business in the U.S., with 51 centers overall, Reiss said.

The acquisition of San Marcos Auto Body fills a void between Caliber’s Carlsbad and Escondido centers, said Rick Reiss, vice president and San Diego regional manager for Caliber.

“Caliber acquired the San Marcos center in direct response to the request of Caliber’s insurance partners, who identified an immediate need for a collision repair facility in the North San Diego County area,” said Reiss.

Reiss plans to build on the reputation that Mike Mead, the previous owner of the San Marcos facility, developed over 12 years in business. Mead will assist in the integration of the business to the Caliber group.

Dummies Rule: Would-be entrepreneurs and small business leaders can take advantage of not one, but two books from Foster City-based IDG Books. Both books are written exclusively for , dummies.

“Entrepreneurship for Dummies,” by USC professor Kathleen Allen, is full of tips on how to turn an idea into a successful corporation.

The book comes at a time when one out of three U.S. households is home to at least one adult with some level of experience running an entrepreneurial venture or small business, said IDG spokeswoman Dottie Hart.

“Entrepreneurship for Dummies” discusses how to survive and prosper in a digital world, how to do a feasibility analysis, and how to find a good “angel” investor, she said.

More seasoned businessmen can take advantage of the “Business Professional’s Kit For Dummies.” The book, by marketing communications expert Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts, is written in friendly and sometimes humorous language, Hart said.

Included with the book is a CD-ROM featuring files that can be uploaded to a hand-held computer, she said.

Tips include everything from how to avoid computer crashes, proper etiquette for conducting business overseas, and getting the most out of the Internet, Hart said.

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Happy New Year! Now Pay Up: If you’re a small business owner, you could be paying a lot more for health insurance this year.

A small business owners receiving a renewal notice from its health insurance provider after Jan. 1 could see health insurance premiums increase by 30 percent or more , and in some cases as much as 60 percent, said Allen Wishner, chief executive officer of Des Plaines, Ill.-based Flexible Benefit Service Corp., which designs insurance plans for small-and medium-sized firms.

There are several ways to lower costs without reducing benefits , thus making your company vulnerable to high turnover. Flexible spending accounts can counter rising costs. These plans allow account holders to pay for both unreimbursed medical expenses and child or elder care with pre-tax dollars, Wishner said.

Also, consider a higher deductible. That means lower premiums, and the money saved can not only pay for routine medical expenses but also earn interest, while still protecting the insured against catastrophic medical expenses, he said.

For more information, log onto the Web site of the Flexible Benefit Service Corp. (www.FlexibleBenefit.com).

Send retail and small business news to Zion at lzion@sdbj.com.


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