Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Epilogue/Getting Some Perspective

Three week have lapsed since my return, and I'm still getting a true sense of what the trip to Mississippi meant to me and the people I interacted with.

I've grown increasingly frustrated with the reports coming out of the South concerning the slow processing with the SBA Federal Diaster Loan Program I've kept in contact with a couple of businesses I helped in Gautier, Mississippi, and the checks being issued are apparently few and far between.

I remember back in September sitting at a harbor front restaurant in Baltimore with other SBDC counselors, when the Mississippi program was first announced. Several people in our group were skeptical about how the loans would be administered in a timely manner. And now some of those fears that were discussed that evening have become real.

Okay, so now I guess this is where I have to justify the trip from my perspective. What I do for a living is much more than processing loans. Yes, finding loan money for people is one tool that I can use, but there usually is a lot more to helping someone understand the realities of running their own business, growing their business, and in many cases in Mississippi, surviving as a business.

Three weeks removed, what sticks out in my mind are the situations where I listened to business owners for over two hours at a time, as they told their amazing stories, and eventually we analyzed if they should even continue to operate as a business, or if they should turn, walk away, and throw in the towel.

We all can use some perspective from time to time, but imagine having to quickly gain perspective to make life-changing decisions in a matter of a few days or hours. What we ended up doing in Gautier was important, and now I find now that I have less patience for folks who take forever to make relatively easy choices here at home. Maybe my job is to ultimately give people some of this much needed perspective.


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