ELLSWORTH — U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) gathered a group of local business people April 8 to discuss challenges they face in today’s economy.
About 25 area professionals met for the business roundtable at Bar Harbor Bank and Trust. Snowe told the group she wanted to “take the pulse” of small business in the state.
The senator is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
She asked the business people about their concerns in today’s economy.
Doug Jones, CEO of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, said he has seen a reduction in routine and preventative care.
Snowe said she found people opting to postpone health care alarming. She said she and other lawmakers are working to change American health care from a system that focuses on crisis response to one that focuses on prevention.
Mark Politte, owner of Stanley Subaru, said financial uncertainty and reduced access to credit lines have affected vehicle purchases.
Bar Harbor Bank and Trust CEO Joe Murphy said he has seen an increase in mortgage refinancing as people consolidate loans and a decrease in larger mortgage loans which are the most profitable for banks.
The economy has also affected business lending, according to Murphy. He said he has seen fewer entrepreneurs or start-up companies borrowing money.
Snowe said it was important for business people to be aware of funds available through the federal stimulus package.
The business roundtable was a useful way to gauge how federal programs are working at the local level, Snowe said.