How government shutdown would hurt Americans
A government shutdown could sink Cami Stewart's dream of building a restaurant on this land in Justin, Texas.
April 8th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

How government shutdown would hurt Americans

Cami Stewart's dream of becoming the "Taco Queen" of Justin, Texas, could crumble if the federal government shuts down.

Stewart has spent 16 months developing a business plan and preparing paperwork for a million-dollar loan that needs approval from the Small Business Administration. She's building a Taco Mayo restaurant, a small, regional fast-food chain, from the ground up on a small parcel of undeveloped land.

If there's a shutdown, the SBA would suspend loan approvals, threatening Stewart's plan.

"I've been working and doing a lot of research trying to figure this out," she said.

Even a short shutdown could spoil Stewart's first efforts. She has until the end of April to close the real estate deal. She said other developers are also interested in the land and would swoop in and buy it if her loan doesn't come through in time.

"Every day matters. It's going to be hard for us to close by the end of the month," she said. "If the government shuts down, then that will delay us further and we lose our land contract then you know, pretty much starting over."

Stewart said other pieces of land in Justin are much more expensive and would need thousands of dollars of extra work to get set up for a restaurant, and those expenses weren't part of her business plan.

Share your shutdown worries

Stewart spent 15 years working in the corporate world for Fidelity Investments. She decided to take a chance on going out on her own because she's a single mother of a 5-year-old girl with Down syndrome. She said she hopes becoming an entrepreneur will help her take better care of her daughter's needs.

"I just want the ability to be able to take my daughter to the specialists that she needs," Stewart said. "I don't mind working a lot of hours, but I just need that flexibility."

The threat of a government shutdown puts thousands of small businesses across the country in limbo. Some loans, such as Stewart's, would help fund start-up businesses. Some SBA loans help existing small businesses refinance debt. The SBA approves about $400 million in loans every week, according to an agency spokesman.

Ten ways a shutdown could ruin your day

To receive SBA loans, small businesses must get approval from bank lenders and the SBA. The SBA essentially guarantees those loans for the banks lending the money.

If there is a shutdown, most banks will continue to process these loans, but the SBA won't be around to sign off on them. The only SBA loans that would still be funded are part of the disaster loan program.

Several banking officials said small business loans would still be forwarded to the SBA but would then just sit in a line and would be processed in the order they were received after the government starts up again.

Ten ways a shutdown could make your day

A spokesman said agency officials are confident an agreement will be reached before the midnight Friday deadline. Nevertheless, the agency "is committed to providing detailed guidance to small businesses, entrepreneurs, lenders and our partners in the coming days if a lapse in funding looks likely," he said.

Federal employees nervously watch the clock

Stewart can only sit and watch the political theatrics and fighting over the budget in Washington from the grassy field in Justin where she hopes to start her first business.

When she's asked what she thinks of the politicians fighting over the budget, Stewart only smiles and says, "Isn't politics interesting?"

She's been on long-term disability and hasn't worked in three years, but that money has run out and she no longer has a steady income. A government shutdown wasn't part of the plan.

"I am worried. I need to start working," she said.

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Filed under: Politics • Texas
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Roger Garrett

    Here's an idea for Federal employees who might get laid off from work tomorrow if the Federal government fails to pass a funding Bill: show your commitment to America and the American people and show up for work anyway.

    April 8, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. s kel

    get rid of not only all garbage republicans but also trash tea baggers and ignorant birthers as well. I have nothing but pure hate 4 them all.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The one & only

    I can tell who supports the garbage that comes on television now. They can control it they just don't want to and you know it. My point is cut the unnecessary things and keep the important everyday life necessities on board.

    April 9, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sue

    This is a completely crap story. Why should I care about this woman who probably can't afford her taco restaurants anyway? Maybe the govt should shut down for her. She probably voted republican being from Texas anyway, so I'm sure she cares about "government wasteful spending". The military pay issue is much more compelling. It should tell us something though, it's not the $300k for planned parenthood that's breaking the federal budget, it's the 2-3 wars that we are fighting. It's time to do some math.

    April 9, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andreas Moser

    It didn't happen.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. janey

    oh man. if there's one thing this area (I live nearby) doesn't really need, it's a another chain type taco place.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Befuddled

    I can't believe the ignorance on this board. The SBA doesn't fund any part of the loan itself; they only guaranty it (I'm not counting on most on here to know the distinction, use Wikipedia or a book). Banks fund it, and to be real honest, this is the type of stuff the SBA looks for, the S stands for small and the B stands for business, I am not sure how it can be much more clear. Major job creating endeavors and captain of industry have many more outlets to choose from and don't need the SBA to get funding.

    The whole point is for people without the startup capital to have a place to go and get someone (the SBA) to basically co-sign with them, so that the banks can lend them money without an extensive financial history for the company. Without a tool like this, how is new industry going to survive/sustain itself in the future? The SBA only funds if the loan defaults and even then it can be a trial of how many hoops the banks are willing to go through before the federal government even opens the check book.

    The SBA is a very important part of the economy and they do need to do a better job vetting what they accept, but this is not one of those cases. You can't even get to this point without showing the bank that you can collateralize and cash flow the transaction. In most cases, the restaurant itself would serve as collateral and would most likely require at least an 80% loan to value (Again, I'm not expecting you to understand that, please refer to Wikipedia). Some idiot off the street can't ask for $1 million, you have to have assets, liquid and fixed, to back it up and obviously she has done that to even be at this point.

    Yes it does usually take an idea like this 16 months to come to fruition, I doubt it took her 16 months for the business plan because then she would just now be applying for the loan. She had to find a location, get approval from the franchise, get the proper permits, register her company or partnership with the state, and the million other things that must be done before you even find out if you can get the funding. Yet another completely ignorant statement. It appalls me that so many know so little about simple finance and things of that nature, if this is how people function financially in the world, don't look at Washington and blame them for our problems, look in the mirror.

    This is for all of the people saying that she should get a real job, who do you think runs the Taco Bell's ya'll work at?? People like her. This lady is well educated and has a long background in finance, regardless of whether she has health issues; she is the type of person the SBA looks for. The store itself, and I do realize not everyone here is from the great North Texas Region, is right next to Texas Motor Speedway, so while Justin only has a couple thousand residents, every week it fills with taco loving rednecks.

    David, I am not going to get into EVERY point that you made that was either wrong or showed a lack of education on the subject, so I will hit the high notes...The SBA as stated above doesn't give her the money, the collateral will be the building and equipment, and while some small business owners are in it for millions, I very seriously doubt this lady wants to do any more than improve her current situation. You said it yourself, no one makes millions off of a taco place, so let’s use some common sense and not jump on a bandwagon that you don't know anything about.

    April 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. testowe

    My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on a variety of websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform. I have heard good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    August 21, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. louis vutton

    You could definitely see your skills within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

    June 28, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
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