Domestic Dispute

In October " The Fully Managed Family" profiled Ann Deters, a CEO of two companies and a mother of five, and her unique plan to balance the demands of both. Some readers were stridently critical of her strategies, while others supported them.

I do believe that healthy families and two working parents are not mutually exclusive. In fact, my husband and I plan to raise our future children in such a home. It won't resemble the home of Ann and Dennis Deters, however.

While I don't doubt that "Ms. Chelsea" is extremely capable of acting as "house manager," I imagine that the Deters children would prefer to have a mom and dad who are more involved in their lives. Treating family life like a business rubs me the wrong way.

Nissa Roberts
Portland, Oreg.

Inc spent nearly six pages giving its blessing to the fact that a mother and wife does a superefficient job of dismissing her innate responsibilities by using management techniques. Well, that's just wonderful. Congratulations, Mrs. Deters: you are a real success in life. Your children are raised by a "house manager" so you can play in the game of commerce. Make a note of that in your PalmPilot.

Kivi Bernhard

I can relate to the Deters family. I, too, run a high-tech company with my husband. We also run a nonprofit foundation, and we have six kids. I intend to follow up in some way with the Deters family and maybe start a network for "moms who run companies and still have a ton of kids." Perhaps it's part of the you-actually-can-have-it-all attitude some of us have. Sometimes you have to push past society-imposed psychological barriers and do your own thing.

Margaret O'Donnell
Chemical Safety Corp.
Emeryville, Calif.

No Relief?

In September's " Letter From Ground Zero," contributing editor Sarah Bartlett described the plight of small businesses located close to the World Trade Center that had yet to receive government aid. The Small Business Administration responds:

More than 9,900 small businesseshave benefited from the SBA's disaster loan programs since the attacks. Those businesses have received more than $950 million in low-interest loans; 5,157 loans for $428 million were approved for New York City businesses alone.

Even as it belittled this effort, your story created the wrong impression about the SBA's collateral requirements. The SBA absolutely will not decline a loan just because the available collateral does not secure the entire loan amount. However, if collateral exists and the applicant refuses to pledge it, the SBA cannot approve the loan. These rules strike a balance between protecting the taxpayers' interest in the repayment of the loans and meeting the needs of small businesses for support in a period of extreme difficulty.

Your article also took issue with the requirement that grants and insurance payments received by borrowers be paid to the SBA to reduce the total loan balance. Because SBA loans can cover only uncompensated or uninsured losses, the requirements kick in only when such payments cover the same damage as the loan.

As our nation rebuilds from this terrible tragedy, the SBA will continue to provide the primary form of federal long-term-recovery assistance to small businesses nationwide.

Michael Pappas
Regional Administrator
U.S. Small Business Administration
New York City

Sarah Bartlett replies: No one disputes that the SBA provided some emergency loans to New York City businesses after 9/11. Still, many, many small businesses near Ground Zero say they weren't able to get help from the SBA. Some were told that they had insufficient collateral, while others acknowledged that they were unwilling to take the risk of pledging their homes for what they considered an insufficient amount of money. I can only hope that those who were turned down for loans for lack of collateral will reapply and attach a copy of Pappas's letter.

It sounds reasonable that companies receiving grants and insurance payments should use the money to pay down their SBA loan; otherwise they'd be compensated twice for the damages. However, the businesses I encountered suffered losses far in excess of any grant or insurance payments they received. Consider a business owner who loses $100,000 in a disaster and gets a grant of $10,000 and an SBA loan of $40,000. If the owner has to use the grant to reduce the loan, he or she could be forgiven for thinking that $30,000 isn't much in the way of relief.

Contact us: E-mail your comments to Or address your snail mail to Inc Letters Editor, 38 Commercial Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, and include your name, address, and phone number for verification. Letters may be edited for space and style. For help with your subscription, call 800-234-0999.