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. nibiru


    April 8, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BK

    I'm pretty sure I'm OK without a Taco Mayo. But I do wish Cami luck with her aspirations of Taco Queen elsewhere

    April 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Georgia shields

    I hope it dont come down to this i have problem with one person on this saying learn how to spell i dont spell words good at times i was slow learner in school when i was kid look st your at your self before you talk about some one eles

    April 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blabbablabbers

    whine whine...can't get a gov loan for a week or two while the gov shutsdown is ongoing to start a taco place...whine...give me a break and find a job like everyone else. it's not like this will be forever! i feel bad for military members, but gimme a break with the gov business loans and national parks....

    April 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    The SBA is going to give this woman $1 million dollars to build a taco restaurant in a city with only 2000 people living in it, during a bad economy? Umm, I think i just found a good way for the government to save some money. The SBA loans 400 million dollars per week? You know at least half of those loans are supporting really bad ideas, right? And even if these people personally guarantee these loans against their own property, you know these people don't have enough assets to cover those loans. The SBA really needs to start being more selective. I don't foresee future headlines reading "Taco stand lady from small town makes millions" being likely.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dennis pitt

    Hello America a poem for you. A few more wars and we'll be threw.We stick are nose were it don't belong.then we sing the same old song. We blow things up and say were wright. I't just seems we like to fight.We talk of peace may freedom prevail . Then thay tell us to go to hell. the cost of war is really high. i'ts not just money. Men do die.America is strong but will it stay.Their will be a time we have to pay.Are circle of goverment cannot agree on the matters that keep us free.The war on drugs its been so long we donot win what is wrong.The time has come for all to say we must do things a different way.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • No more infighting

      Nice poem.

      April 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    Seriously ??!! this is not news! some lady is upset because she wants her taco shop not like there isn't a million places to go already! the gov should save money and not approve it. You want to make tacos join the military and become a cook and then you will have a right to get upset OK!!

    April 8, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dennis

    Well come election time. We'll just have to make a list of names of who not to vote for. We need people who can agree an not fight over every thing.The president trys his very best to get things done an get shot down at every thing he tryes.There is so much fighting going on in the house. I can't believe thay get any thing done. No wonder its going to shut down. But let them play there stuped games .Come election look how many of them still have a job.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. luke

    The military is all volunteer ,when you raise your right hand and take the oath to join that's it, the united states
    owns you for the length of your contract ,they work for the government and the government and the elected board of directors can't agree so the busness has to shut down for a while and just like on civie street that means you won't be getting paid .now your just like millions of regular americans .that's the republican way

    April 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • military wife

      Regardless if the military gets paid or not. They are no better or no less than anyone else. The only thing you are correct on is it is a volunteer force and as a former member and wife of a soldier if only we could volunteer on whose rights we fight for. If we were like million of other "regular " Americans we would have never raised our hands and volunteered to defend the rights of EVERYONE. So because we volunteered that makes it okay that we don't get paid. Explain your logic to my husband and the many others stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. THOSE are not regular Americans Just like our teachers, firefighters and police force! Maybe if all "regular Americans" spent one Day in the shoes of a deployed soldier, or teacher etc.....they would respect what they do a little more. This shutdown effects everyone but lets not slight those That have to still put their life on the line and only get half a paycheck, and if you look at military pay they didn't volunteer for the pay!

      April 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Humm

    Wait, they just happen to mention at the end there that she hasn't worked and has been on disability for three years. So you're telling me she's getting free money from the government already, probably, and now wants to borrow a $million+ to open... a taco restaurant? Seriously, people, is this where our national priorities are at? I can think of a better dream: Reward private businesses creating jobs for the next century!!! A TACO STAND????

    April 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mart

      Texans will still be eating tacos in the next century.

      April 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tony

    She lives in Texas – tell her to go thank all the Texan Tea Party voters for her good fortune.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. vicki

    Dems, repubs,why not call them by one name. Crooks that can't run anything but their mouths. Fire them all. We the people could do a better job running our country. Blame goes on us. We elected them.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tuchu

    Updated News!!!! Watch Full Updated News On

    April 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bob

    If Gov. shuts down does that breach contract with military? Do soldiers have the right to walk?

    April 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Budget Analyst

      Nope and Nope

      April 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mike

    If her idea is any good, a private bank can loan her the money. Otherwise, tough tacos lady. The SBA should be shut down.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
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