Real estate, fixed assets covered by changes to 504 program
Small businesses seeking to expand will be able to refinance existing loans used to purchase real estate and other fixed assets, such as heavy equipment and machinery, as a result of permanent changes to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 Certified Development Company loan program, the agency announced last month. The changes were authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation allows 504 program projects to include a limited amount of debt refinancing if there is a business expansion and the debt refinanced does not exceed 50 percent of the projected cost of the expansion. For information on the 504 changes and on eligibility requirements, go to www.recovery.gov or www.sba.gov/recovery.
Tonnage index rises in May
Year-over-year index still down 11 percent
The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose for the first time since February 2009, gaining 3.2 percent in May. However, May’s increase, which raised the SA index to 102.3, wasn’t large enough to offset the March-through-April cumulative reduction of 6.7 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 102.0 in May, up 0.4 percent from April. Compared with May 2008, tonnage contracted 11.0 percent, which was the best year-over-year result in three months. However, despite the improvement from April’s 13.2 percent plunge, May’s decrease still is large historically.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the month-to-month improvement was encouraging, but cautioned that tonnage is unlikely to surge anytime soon. Costello also noted that he doesn’t expect tonnage to deteriorate much further and that any growth in tonnage over the next few months is likely to be modest.
“I am hopeful that the worst is behind us, but I just don’t see anything on the economic horizon that suggests freight transportation is ready to explode,” Costello said. “The consumer is still facing too many headwinds, including employment losses, tight credit, rising fuel prices and falling home values, to name a few, that will make it very difficult for household spending to jump in the near term.”
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. The baseline year is 2000.
Trade using surface transportation between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico was 33.1 percent lower in April 2009 than in April 2008, dropping to $49.7 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. April was the fourth consecutive month with a yearly decline of greater than 27 percent.
Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative has supported more than $315 million in loans in the past two years to more than 3,750 veterans and their spouses who are using the SBA-guaranteed funds to establish and expand their small businesses. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act raised loan guarantees to 90 percent and eliminated fees temporarily. For more information on the program, go to www.sba.gov/patriotexpress.
FTR Associates (www.ftrassociates.net) released preliminary data showing Class 8 total net orders for all major North American OEMs totaling 8,101 units in June, an increase of 9.7 percent from May and the first improvement in three months. However, June 2009 orders were down 52.7 percent versus the same month in 2008. The firm expects to see additional slow improvement through the remainder of 2009.
J.J. Keller & Associates announced the launch of jjkellerservices.com, its professional services portal designed to assist individuals and companies in mitigating exposure and reducing risk and liability associated with complex regulatory and business management practices.