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Government shutdown delays Minnesota businesses, home buyers

With one in five mortgages in Minnesota backed by government agencies, home buyers ineligible for conventional mortgages are stuck in limbo.

Posted: Jan. 10, 2019 1:18 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota executives, home buyers and small business owners are starting to see more delays following the first full week of business since the partial federal government shutdown began.

With one in five mortgages in Minnesota backed by government agencies, home buyers ineligible for conventional mortgages are stuck in limbo amid the standoff over President Donald Trump's demand for billions of dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Lenders underwriting U.S. Department of Agriculture mortgages can't obtain any conditional commitments or guarantees, stalling a form of financing typically used in rural areas and small towns, the Star Tribune reported.

"It's a small percentage, but probably a big number that adversely affects rural America," said Keenan Raverty, former president of the Minnesota Mortgage Association and vice president of Twin Cities-based Bell Banks. "Even 100 deals in outstate Minnesota is pretty impactful."

Meanwhile, many small firms and entrepreneurs are putting off acquisitions and other deals while the federal Small Business Association remains closed.

"We have eight loans pending (in just one community-lending program) that are in limbo," said Gary Cunningham, chief executive of Metropolitan Economic Development Association. The Minneapolis-based association counsels and helps finance small minority-owned businesses.

Also stalled is a $4.3 billion acquisition by Minnesota's largest company, UnitedHealth Group, to expand its operation of medical clinics. The Minnetonka-based company is awaiting a review by the Federal Trade Commission to purchase DaVita Medical Group, a chain of clinics.

Kent Thiry, chief executive of Colorado-based DaVita Inc., said executives still hope to close the deal early this year.

Smaller health tech companies around the state are being held up by the Food and Drug Administration's delayed review and approval of new products.

Frank Jaskulke, of Minnesota-based trade group Medical Alley Association, said, "the medium- and long-term impact will be felt by public health as fewer health advancements come to market."

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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