When Vic Portincaso was laid off from his process engineering job in Lisle 2½ years ago, he dipped into his 401(k) several years early to open Boss Automotive in unincorporated Kane County.
Portincaso's company of 1½ years employs seven, including himself, wife Sandy and son Chris. Business has been like a "roller coaster" lately and he wants a bank loan to increase his cash flow so he isn't as dependent on day-to-day sales and has the option to hire more employees.
But the four banks he's asked for loans all rejected him because he hasn't been in operation for at least two years. "I have a business that is right now, because people are hanging onto their cars longer. ... I can grow," Portincaso, 56, said. "But I can't grow if I can't get loans."
That was the dilemma the Geneva man presented to Congressman Randy Hultgren, who addressed the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday as part of its "Good Morning, Elgin" lecture series that attracted a friendly gathering of nearly 60 people.
After a lengthy opening statement in which the Winfield Republican reaffirmed his support for small businesses as vehicles that will help get the economy back on track, he fielded about a half dozen questions from the audience.
The first one came from Portincaso, who wanted to know what Congress is doing about the banking situation. Hultgren said his specific plan is to find out exactly why the banks are being so tight with their money and to hopefully join the financial services committee so he can fully immerse himself in the debate surrounding that issue.
"We're fighting but we're not moving fast enough," Hultgren said. "We've got to get this turned around again so that there is incentive for banks to lend to small businesses."
Hultgren touched on several issues during the 50-minute chat. He said he voted opposite party lines and against extending the debt ceiling because the final version didn't include a balanced-budget amendment. Hultgren deemed the Illinois redistricting plan a "horrible failure" and which is now facing a GOP-led federal lawsuit.
"If it wasn't for the growth of the Hispanic population in Illinois, we would have lost two congressional seats," Hultgren said. "But because of the growth of the Hispanic population, we only lose one. And yet, they have drawn the district as if the demographics here in Illinois with Hispanic populations were identical to 1992."
Portincaso came away with the sense that Hultgren is trying to hold Washington accountable and reach out to his constituents.
And in six months when his business reaches its second anniversary, he plans to go after that loan once more.
"I am resilient," Portincaso said. "My biggest goal is to hire people."