Crain’s Extra: How Pursuit Lending Protects Small Businesses From Economic Storms

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Small business vital signs don’t look good. Inflation squeezes margins, and small businesses are particularly vulnerable to rising borrowing costs because they typically don’t hold a lot of cash.

“It will be a difficult road to travel as we feel the brunt of new Fed policies designed to undo the damage done by the policies that created our current inflation problems,” the National Federation of Independent Business said in a report. last month.

Chris Levy does his best to make sure the tough roads ahead don’t derail his clients’ dreams.

Levy is the new CEO of Pursuit Lending, a Manhattan company that distributes loans and counseling so small businesses can get on their feet and attract the attention of the 100 state banks that fund Pursuit. The company helped 11,000 businesses get relief from the federal Paycheck Protection Program two years ago, at an average of $20,000 each.

For Pursuit’s roughly 700 customers, it’s about staying the course, Levy said. At least so far.

“Our clients have continued to see growth and continue to hire and look to grow,” he said. “Overall, everything is fine.”

Businesses still have Covid relief money in the bank, he said, and Pursuit steered customers with variable-rate loans to fixed loans before interest rates spiked. He added that the rates are not much higher than three years ago.

The difference now is inflation. In July, 37% of business owners surveyed by the NFIB said inflation was their biggest problem, the highest reading since 1979.

I asked Levy what a well-meaning policy maker could do to help. I thought he would say cut taxes or regulate, but his answer was more interesting.

“What would help small business owners the most is financial literacy,” he said. “Often they don’t know their business financing options, and [they] take out harmful loans. We can’t control the economy, but we can do something about it.

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