Here is the latest entry on the blog of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. The entire blog can be found here.
By Raquel Guillory, Assistant Secretary, Department of Business and Economic Development
After a half-decade of economic recession and recovery, there was “finally light at the end of the tunnel,” said Cidalia Luis-Akbar, who owns and runs M. Luis Construction with her sister Natalia Luis.
Then the federal government shut down. Instead of light, they faced more economic darkness.
“Every day we’re out here taking risk. We’re making financial decisions based on a feeling that we’re finally starting to get out of the financial difficulty we’ve felt for five years,” Luis-Akbar said. “But this is terrifying. It’s scary out here now.”
President Obama visited M. Luis on Thursday to call for an end to the shutdown.
“Across the country you’ve got farmers in rural areas and small business owners who deserve a loan, but they’re being left in the lurch right now,” President Obama said. “They might have an application pending as we speak, but there’s nobody in the office to process the loan. The SBA gives a billion dollars of loans a month to small businesses — a billion dollars a month goes to small businesses all across the country. Right now those can’t be processed because there’s nobody there to process them.”
Founded by Portuguese immigrants with a wheelbarrow and a pickup truck in 1985, M. Luis has grown into a $60 million road construction company with 250 employees and a thick portfolio of projects across the Washington and Baltimore metro areas. Cidalia and Natalia are the daughters of Manuel and Albertina Luis, the company’s founders.
Many of their contracts, with Baltimore City, Montgomery County, the State Highway Administration and other towns and counties in the area, are partially funded by the federal government. They worry the shutdown will postpone future contracts and, if the situation persists, disrupt payments for current projects.
“We’re concerned about potential delays,” Natalia Luis said.
“It may be that contracts that were scheduled to bid in the coming weeks will get pushed back. That will have a huge impact when the backlog gets cleared and there’s not new work to take its place,” she said. “You’re talking about a significant and severe hardship.”
Luis said she and her sister will start to meet with their clients this week if the shutdown does not get resolved. They’ll assess the impact the shutdown will have on paving, road construction and other projects across the state.
“We cannot take any more out here,” Luis-Akbar said. “We are all barely hanging on by our fingernails. We’re not out of the woods. This makes us think twice about every decision we make.”
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