Merced County business sales drop by 70 percent

Merced County saw a 70 percent drop in business opportunity sales in March, according to a Biz-Ben.com report.

That means there was a sharp decline in the number of businesses changing hands. It doesn't refer to macroeconomic performance in the county.

The drop to six closings last month is compared to numbers from March 2009. The figures also show Merced County's year-to-date numbers are off by 46 percent from the closed escrow total recorded in the first quarter of 2009.

"This isn't the news we like to hear, or to report, but there are definite signs of improvement in this market," said BizBen.com CEO Peter Siegel in a news release. The news release pointed to a limited access to capital as the reason for the slowdown.

"It's encouraging that Congress recently authorized another round of funding so the Small Business Administration can restart its popular loan guarantee program. It offers incentives meant to encourage lenders and borrowers to get active in the market again."

Three deals in Delhi accounted for half of Merced County's closed business opportunity escrows in March. Other deals were completed in Merced, Winton and Atwater.

The company said there are 25 business opportunities in Merced County listed at the BizBen.com Web site.

-- Brandon Bowers