USA Today: 2012 job market brightens, but unemployment won’t fall fast

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Excerpt from article published by USA Today:

Even more encouraging: Small businesses — which create an outsize share of jobs — appear to be launching and expanding again. The number of establishments opening hit a record low of 1.1 million in 2011′s first quarter, the most recent data available, according to the Labor Department. But anecdotal evidence suggests the pace of business start-ups has increased lately, says Dane Stangler, research director for the Kauffman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurship. The International Franchise Association expects the number of U.S. franchise locations  to rise 2% this year after dipping three years in a row.

Franchise company Driven Brands, which owns Meineke and Maaco, sold more franchise licenses in November than in the past five years combined, says CEO Ken  Walker. “We are beginning to get businesses financed,” he says.

Franchisee Stephen Keel, who owns a Maaco auto body outlet in Catonsville, Md., sought for a year to move it to nearby Randallstown and add a Meineke auto repair shop at the new site. But he couldn’t get a $1.7 million loan from seven banks despite a $2.2 million appraisal of his planned new land and building. Recently, he snared a loan from Susquehanna Bank and plans to add four to seven workers to his 12-employee staff after he opens the new location in April.

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