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Murray, Obama, Locke Discuss Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy with Washington State Small Business Owners (Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and President Barack Obama joined with Washington state small business owners at Grand Central Bakery in Seattle to discuss helping small businesses create jobs and grow the economy.

“I am so glad that President Obama got to speak with Washington state small business owners about what we can do to help them create jobs and grow the economy,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I told them that I am going to keep fighting for a small business lending bill that would allow businesses across Washington state to expand and add jobs. And I truly hope that the Republicans who oppose this bill will put the needs of small business owners ahead of partisan politics.”

In July, Senator Murray spoke on the Senate floor to strongly urge her colleagues to support the Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans. This bill is expected to be brought to the floor again when the Senate returns to session.  The legislation would create the Small Business Lending Fund, which sets aside $30 billion dollars to help local community banks get the capital they need to lend money to small businesses.  It would also help support small business initiatives run by states across the country that are struggling due to local budget cutbacks.  Murray has been a long-time advocate for a $30 billion fund to help community banks lend to small businesses. Last year she introduced similar legislation, and she talked directly to Secretary Geithner and President Obama about making this happen.

Background on small business owners at today’s event:

Gillian Allen-White joined Grand Central Bakery in 1997 after having worked in banking and for a small high-tech start-up.  She is currently a co-owner and the general manager of Grand Central’s Seattle operations.  Grand Central is a locally owned artisan bakery that opened in Seattle in 1989 and has grown to include a Seattle based wholesale facility and eight cafés with over 250 employees in Seattle and Portland.  In Seattle, Grand Central will be opening its ninth café on Friday and over the next two months plans to hire five additional employees across the three Seattle locations.  Gillian is optimistic about the bakery’s future potential for growth and continues to look for expansion opportunities in the greater Seattle area.

Tiffany Turner and her husband, Brady, opened the Inn at Discovery Coast in 2004 in their native Long Beach, with a loan from a local community bank.  Out of the same office Tiffany and Brady manage the 12-room Inn and eight bungalows nearby.  There are currently four full-time employees and during the peak season there are up to seven additional part-time employees.   Since its opening the business has thrived, even expanding during the recent economic downturn.  In 2009 they approached their bank about a loan in order to expand but were turned down.   However, just recently, Tiffany and Brady were approved for a loan that will enable them to expand operations and hire up to 20 additional full-time and part-time employees over the coming year.  Tiffany and her husband have been ready to expand and hire more employees, and can finally do so thanks to an economic climate where community banks are lending to small businesses again.

Joe Fugere is the founder of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Seattle, which was just named independent pizzeria of the year .  The first Tutta Bella opened in 2004 and has since grown to four locations, employing 180 employees.  Joe funded his first restaurant personally and later opened two additional locations funded by loans from a large commercial bank.   In December of 2008 Joe approached his bank, a large regional commercial bank, to discuss the funding of an additional location, but was turned down.  He then approached other large regional and national commercial lending institutions; but was again turned down due to the uncertain economic climate.   Having been rejected by larger banks, Joe approached a community bank and within a few weeks the loan was approved.  In mid-2009 Tutta Bella’s fourth location opened and currently employs 50 people.  Recently, a SBA loan under the Recovery Act has helped him improve the company’s cash flow.  Joe is proof that community banks can be the engine for getting much needed loans to small businesses, so small businesses can grow, create jobs, and build the economy.