Utah small business owner gives advice at White House

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SANDY -- A Utah business owner met with President Obama Monday and offered advice on how to stimulate the economy.

Apparently Pres. Obama reads 10 letters out of the 40,000 he receives each day. He read Debbie Sanich's letter about her troubles getting credit to expand her small business and invited her to the White House. She was one of seven small business owners invited to the White House.

Sanich owns a drug treatment center, The Turning Point of Utah/Turning Point Centers, in Sandy. She wrote letters to Wells Fargo's president and President Obama after the bank denied her credit application. She says it was denied because she once went $12 over on a line of credit.

She says she first wrote a letter to the underwriter.

"When I sent the letter, I said I know that the president is trying to get your banks to free up some money. That was the thing I was mad about, is that they were pushing these banks that had stimulus funds to get money out to the people so that the economy would unfreeze. It wasn't that I was dying for the credit line, I was more upset that the banks were holding the money," she said.

Then she got more proactive.

"I decided to copy it to the president of Wells Fargo, and also to (Pres. Obama). I sent him a letter with my data from Wells Fargo. They turned me down for a line of credit, and I just thought you'd be interested. I don't understand how a business like mine who is profitable can't get any money," she explained.

Wells Fargo did not write back, but Pres. Obama did. He sat down with Sanich and several other small business owners Monday to talk about the credit crisis.

She told the president two smaller banks in Utah, America First Credit Union and America West Bank, were very helpful on a different business venture and says small lenders need more attention.

"My concern was that some of the stimulus money was going to flow down to these bigger banks that aren't really responsive to business owners," she said.

The six other business owners that were invited to meet with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room shared stories with a similar financial theme.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes. Sanich says she was encouraged by Obama's support of smaller banks and lenders. She said she got the impression the president wants to act quickly on this.

Sanich and the others later attended the news conference where the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner announced the small business plan.

She says she's still amazed that out of the 40,000 letters the president receives every day, hers was chosen out of the stack.

Tuesday Sanich spoke to KSL Newsradio on Utah's Morning News. Play the audio link on this page to hear that.


Story compiled with contributions from Mary Richards and Keith McCord.

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