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SBA Administrator Linda McMahon Visits 130 Year Old Newark Company

For 130 years, Newark-based Atlas Refinery Inc. has served the leather industry by developing, producing and selling the fatliquors and specialty chemicals used in creating such materials. Through five generations, the family-owned company continues to persevere.

Atlas was first introduced to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) during the recession in 2008, when it was able to secure an SBA loan that allowed the company to get back on its feet and continue moving forward through the difficult financial times – a deal that Atlas Refinery President & COO Steven B. Schroeder Jr. calls, “a godsend.”

Crisis struck again in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area, with flooding from the nearby Passaic River filling the plant, destroying equipment and crippling the business in a way unseen in its more than 100-year history. Again, the company was able to survive, thanks in part to the SBA’s disaster loan program.

The SBA continues to be a catalyst for providing resources and tools to small business like Atlas Refinery, who have sought aid and growth throughout the US and abroad.

On June 2, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon visited Atlas Refinery’s Newark headquarters as part of her nationwide Ignite Tour, which will allow her to understand the needs of small businesses across the country and advance her goals for the SBA. Additionally, she announced an $18-million funding opportunity to support export growth among US small businesses that will be awarded through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

“Part of what I want to do at SBA is to make more people aware of everything that we do,” McMahon said. “There’s much more we provide than just access to capital – from counseling and mentoring, to export programs [and more].”

For instance, Atlas Refinery has since taken advantage of the SBA’s Export Working Capital Program, which has provided the tools to allow the company to grow in markets abroad. “The program is perfect for a company like ours that is 80 percent export,” Schroeder Jr. said. “We have joint ventures in Brazil, India and China and sell to about 25 different countries.”

While the visit to Atlas Refinery gave McMahon a firsthand look at a company that directly benefitted from SBA programs, the Ignite Tour will also look to increase small businesses’ awareness regarding the resources available to them if they choose to seek them out.

“People need to understand that there are opportunities out there,” Atlas Refinery Chairman & CEO Steven B. Schroeder Sr. said. He emphasized the fact that if a company takes the time to seek out options, organizations such as the SBA have programs in place that can provide much needed aid that could not only help to grow a business, but also potentially save it.

“I want to continue to meet with more businesses like [Atlas Refinery], have roundtable discussions, and hear from small businesses around the country as to what their issues are, what is helping them grow and how we can be more helpful to them,” McMahon said.

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