OTR Interviews

Why small business and franchisees are the real heroes of the economy

Tasti D-Lite CEO Jim Amos sounds off on how small businesses - and Pres. Obama's remarks - could impact the 2012 presidential election

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our next guest says small business owners and franchises are heroes. Heroes? Why does he say they're heroes? Jim Amos, chairman and CEO of Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie joins us.

So Jim, tell me, why do you say small business people are heroes?

JIM AMOS, TASTI D-LITE, PLANET SMOOTHIE CHAIRMAN & CEO: Oh, well, Greta, I think small business in general, and certainly franchisees in particular, are heroes because these are folks that put their entire life on the line and certainly often all of their savings. They're pursuing a dream with every bit of fiber and strength that they have.

They display tremendous courage in making payrolls and overcoming obstacles, doing things, frankly, that put the seedbed of our society together. As an example, since 1984, every net job in America has come from small business.

And you know, I think, just listening to the previous gentleman, that for three or four years now -- if you look back at 2009 as perhaps a year of maximum uncertainty -- these businesses, these people who have been creating jobs and revenue and tax dollars in pursuing their dreams at the same time have been just trying to stay alive under a greater burden of taxes and regulation, and frankly, some shrill rhetoric that's coming from the general direction of our administration.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, I'm trying to understand what -- you know, for these small businesses, what is sort of the impacts, or the natural cycle of having a rough economic time, and also having the influence of economic times overseas, and what's a direct result of administrative policies, I mean, that the president can be held accountable for, for small businesses.

AMOS: Well, I think if you look at just the general concept of taxation, we have the highest corporate tax in the world on our business community. We have really an out-of-control regulatory policy.

Take that piece specifically for franchising as an example. In the last three, perhaps four years, just about 50 percent of the financeable transactions that drive business format franchising have not taken place.

Historically, the organic growth of franchising has come from these people, these business folks, that we're talking about, who brought 10 to 20 percent of their savings to the table. They often financed about 80 percent out of the net worth in their home. And today, if any banks are lending, and they are not, they want 40 percent or 50 percent down, and there is no equity in anybody's home, practically.

So if you're looking at the franchisers who are attempting to scale and drive business in the United States, that becomes extraordinarily difficult. If you're looking at the franchisee who just wants to pursue their dream, it's almost impossible.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the -- now, tell me about the bank loans, though. Do you hold the Obama administration accountable for the fact that the banks have the money to lend and they won't lend?

AMOS: Well, let me give you just a little insight into that. As part of the International Franchise Association some months ago, in fact, twice over the last year or so, we've held summits on small bank lending. And we've had folks from the administration itself, from the Small Business Administration -- and the banking community at large talks about all of the cash that's there and the fact that there's no demand.

But when the franchisers and franchisees step up to speak, they talk about the fact that they need the loans to come to them, but ultimately they won't lend. The reality is, if you talk to the bankers themselves, the regulatory policy has been such that they just won't allow them -- they downgrade the banks if they're making commercial or business loans today in this environment.

And these are the same people, by the way, that presided over the collapse. The smartest people in the world are still the ones that are determining whether these banks can make these loans today.

So I think there's not just a lending gap, but there's an information gap and a philosophical gap somewhere that's preventing these kinds of loans to be real for these folks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, thank you.

AMOS: Absolutely. Thank you, Greta.