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(WSJ.com) — Since the mortgage meltdown, business owners can no longer reliably count on homes or commercial properties to secure financing.

Even as some segments of the economy bounce back, the lagging pace of improvement in the real-estate market continues to hamper owners’ efforts at landing credit. “As the big guys are doing better, people ask, why not the smaller firms? Well, this is a huge part of the reason,” says William Dennis, Jr., a senior research fellow at the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington.

Because business owners used real estate to support financing endeavors in a variety of ways, the subprime crisis hit Main Street particularly hard as it rippled through the credit markets. Before the real-estate bubble burst, home and business properties were a reliable source of collateral for many businesses.

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