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What Dino Rossi didn’t hear when he visited Sumner company

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Oct. 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
October 29, 2010 3:33 pm

This may be a sign of why the stimulus is unpopular.

Even a business that saved money because of the federal stimulus bill views it negatively, and denies it benefited from the bill.

SEFNCO Communications CEO Scott Nall invited Washington’s U.S. Senate candidates to tour his construction company’s new Sumner headquarters, which it bought this year with help from a loan backed by the federal government. Republican Dino Rossi took him up on it, visiting Tuesday as part of a campaign swing through Pierce County.

The stimulus subsidized fees on loans that otherwise would be paid by companies like SEFNCO. (The bill provided $375 million for the U.S. Small Business Administration to eliminate such fees, according to Evergreen Business Capital, which helped provide financing to SEFNCO through what’s called a 504 loan.)

But the company didn’t exactly advertise that fact, to Rossi or to reporters who called to ask if Rossi was visiting another business that got help from the stimulus. He visited a shipyard in September that won stimulus funds.

Nope, Nall told me: His loan wasn’t affected by the stimulus. And to the candidate, “He said they hadn’t really seen any real results for his company out of this (stimulus),” Rossi said after the visit.

But the SBA told me yes, SEFNCO received what the agency refers to as a Recovery Act loan, which allows it to avoid the normal fee. And a company spokeswoman acknowledged Thursday SEFNCO didn’t have to pay the fee.

Still, the spokeswoman said: “The loan itself was not funded by the stimulus but rather backed by the Federal Government. … Our company did not receive any direct stimulus dollars.”

Nall remains skeptical of the stimulus. In fact, his critique of the bill’s $800 billion cost sounds a lot like the one Rossi has been making.

“I have kids, right,” Nall said, “and I don’t want them to have to carry the weight of the national debt. And if this adds to that, then to me that’s a bad thing.”

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: SEFNCO responds: The company wasn’t aware the loan was affected by the stimulus, officials said. Their lender, Bank of America, assured them Tuesday it wasn’t a stimulus loan.

“We qualified with or without it,” Nall said. “Our financials are so solid that it didn’t even matter to us.”

“We had our best year ever,” he said.

He added that seeking stimulus aid is fair game even for someone who doesn’t agree with the policy behind the bill. “If there was a chance to stay ‘Stop,’ then I would, but if it’s already out, I would go for it.”

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