NORTH BAY -- More capital is flowing to North Bay small businesses through loan programs backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, with a 10.4 percent increase in dollar volume funded in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties comparing the first half of the administration's fiscal year to the same period one year ago, according to data from the SBA.
[caption id="attachment_73324" align="alignright" width="384"] Source: U.S. Small Business Administration[/caption]
Lenders approved $42.2 million in both SBA 7(a) and 504 loans, the two most popular loan types through the SBA, in the three counties during the six-month period ended March 31. The number of loans, 83, was up from the 70 loans completed in the same period in fiscal year 2012, according to data from the SBA.
The increase comes as part of a broader trend for SBA lending across the Bay Area, a region where demand for financing has maintained its momentum despite the sunset of several temporary provisions Congress enacted to help jump-start business borrowing, according to the district director for the SBA in the Bay Area, Mark Quinn.
"We set a record level of lending in the San Francisco office in 2012. In 2013, we're on a similar pace as last year," Mr. Quinn said.
Sonoma County saw the greatest amount of lending in the North Bay during the period, with $17.9 million in both 7(a) and 504 and a total of 48 loans. That dollar volume was down from $22.6 million during the same six months in the prior fiscal year, but the number of loans completed had increased from 42 in the comparable period.
Lenders completed $13.4 million over 19 loans in Marin County, a significant boost compared to $4.4 million and 15 loans during the same period in fiscal year 2012, according to data from the SBA. There were 16 loans totaling $10.9 million in Napa County, compared to $11.3 million over 13 loans in the prior year.
Solano County saw $5.7 million in lending across 12 SBA loans for the period, with $2.8 million in loans for Mendocino County and $534,400 for Lake County.
Lending the highest dollar volume in the North Bay for the period was Santa Rosa's First Community Bank, with $6.7 million in SBA 7(a) loans. The bank had five loans in Sonoma County totaling $2.8 million, and one loan in Napa County valued at $3.9 million.
Requests for financing to purchase big-ticket items has driven much of the recent demand, including equipment financing, business acquisition and commercial real estate purchase or refinancing. Demand for working capital has also increased, said Barbara Larson, senior vice president and loan officer for the bank's North Bay commercial lending, including SBA products.
Also among the most active lenders in the North Bay was Wells Fargo, which funded $2.2 million in the six-month period over nine of the SBA-secured 7(a) loans in Sonoma County and $6.3 million across the broader region.
"We are seeing more small business owners coming in to learn about SBA loan opportunities and apply for commercial real estate loans throughout the North Bay," said Tracy Sheppard, business development officer for Wells Fargo's SBA and commercial lending in the North Bay. "Demand is up, especially in Sonoma County. And this is across all industries."
Mr. Sheppard and others noted that the long-term fixed rates possible through an SBA loan were an attractive option in the current low-interest-rate environment, encouraging some business owners to seek financing to transition from leasing to owning a property and to make other large purchases.