The National Restaurant Association today played a key role in the Small Business Lending Summit, organized by the International Franchise Association at the Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
The Association served as an anchor sponsor of the event, highlighting the critical importance of ensuring financing for restaurants, many of which are small businesses.
“Access to credit remains one of the top priorities for the restaurant industry,” says National Restaurant Association chief operating officer David Gilbert.
“Seventy percent of restaurateurs are single-unit operators. More than ninety percent of industry establishments have fewer than 50 employees."
“The tight credit market over the past few years has been frustrating—and at times, devastating—to thousands of our small-business members,” says Gilbert. “Greater access to credit leads directly to more jobs. We look forward to working with lenders and government regulators at this summit to find solutions that will help drive small business franchise growth.”
Restaurant operators continued to report difficulties obtaining credit and financing in 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
Forty-four percent of quick-service operators said it was more challenging to obtain credit in 2010 than it was in 2009; seven percent said it was less challenging. Among full-service operators, 29 percent said obtaining credit was more challenging in 2010, while only one out of 10 said it was easier in 2010.
“We know that the economic downturn is still being felt, but I think we can also see that we are starting to enter a recovery mode,” points out Gilbert.
“Restaurants and foodservice outlets employ nearly thirteen million people nationwide, and nearly half of all food dollars are spent in our industry. That puts us in a position to play a major role in improving the national economy. As our economy and industry rebound, we have the potential to add 1.3 million jobs over the next decade.”
Gilbert adds: “It is crucial that we find ways to help restaurateurs get the financing they need for improvements and expansions.”
The day-long summit included sessions about the role of franchising in growing the economy and creating jobs, lenders’ perspectives on the credit crunch—why lending has been difficult, legislative and regulatory challenges facing franchisors and franchisees, and ideas for increasing the capital available for franchising entrepreneurs.