North Bay leaders in US Small Business Administration lending in 2019

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Here are some of the people in the North Bay and beyond who help arrange U.S. Small Business Administration loans.

The information is provided by the subjects, and they are listed alphabetically by last name.

Kristina Becker

Vice President, Small Business Banking Manager
Bank of America
10 Santa Rosa Ave, Suite 200
707-260-9284
www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/
Email: kristina.becker@bankofamerica.com

Years worked in the banking business: 8 years

Years at your present position: 5 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: In the past year, Bank of America has expanded our local team of small business bankers in the North Bay to help companies manage growth and plan for the future.

We are the #1 ranked small business lender in the country with $36.3 billion to small businesses, according to the FDIC, and a top lender in the SBA’s 504 and 7(a) Programs, with more than $275 million in combined SBA 504 and 7(a) loan volume in 2018.

Bank of America works with small business owners to understand their needs as a strategic partner offering guidance and finding the right financing based on their business priorities. Lending solutions we offer include business credit cards, lines of credit, term loans, commercial real estate loans, equipment financing, vehicle loans and leases, as well as SBA 7(a) and 504 loans.

We also equip small business clients with the latest mobile technology, Business Advantage 360, a digital dashboard providing a complete view of business cash flow and access to real-time expertise and guidance on your mobile phone; as well as Business Advantage Cash Rewards, the most comprehensive multi-product rewards program for business credit cards.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

SBA Loans help businesses get financing with more flexible structures than conventional loans as well as expanding the opportunities for more credit.

The opportunity to get access to capital with often only 10% down allows borrowers the ability to preserve and improve liquidity.

We find that many small business owners do not realize that it’s not necessary to put your home up as collateral, or that the application for an SBA loan is just as easy as a conventional business loan.

Also, the terms on an SBA loan are typically longer, which lowers the monthly payments. Bank of America offers a fixed rate on SBA loans so that the rates do not increase over the life of the loan.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

Demand has grown and we have expanded the size of our small business banking team to give more localized support across the three counties.

More clients are feeling optimistic about the economy and growing their small business, so we are seeing that the intent to borrow has doubled over the previous year. For SBA loans in particular, Bank of America has streamlined its end-to-end process to reduce the time it takes to receive SBA loan funding, and loan production for SBA 7(a) and 504 products are up year over year nationwide.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

Clients are more optimistic as the economy continues to grow. They’re expanding and looking to buy or lease more equipment and office space to get ahead of that growth. We recently surveyed our clients about their priorities and another top focus is recruiting and retaining top talent and investing in employees to grow their careers.

Aaron J. Beckman

Government Guaranteed Lending Program Manager
Tri Counties Bank
3700 Douglas Blvd., Roseville 95661
916-984-2208
www.tcbk.com
Email: aaronbeckman@tcbk.com

Years worked in the banking business: More than 25 years

Years worked at your present position: 2 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: Trico Bancshares, parent company of Tri Counties Bank, acquired First National Bank of Northern California in July, 2018.

The acquisition made Trico one of the largest community banks in North California. It was exciting for us to expand into the Bay Area and combine two community-focused financial institutions providing our clients with additional lending capabilities and expanded product offerings while delivering our unique brand of Service With Solutions.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

Choosing an experienced preferred SBA lender is a key to getting a loan done timely. The SBA has support resources such as SCORE, that provides free services to mentor and train entrepreneurs to help with applications and projections.

Getting an SBA loan is a good option if you’ve been turned down for a conventional loan.

All of the terms loans are fully amortized and never have any balloon payment requirements. You may qualify for financing for equipment, working capital and buyers for commercial real estate up to 90% financing. Various loan programs exist that suit a wide variety of needs that include purchases, lines of credit and international trade import/export needs.

Well qualified lenders, such as Tri Counties Bank, help reduce much of the stress to apply and get qualified.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

The pace of SBA loan applications have increased since last year.

SBA 504 real estate requests have increased. Borrowers have benefited from changes in the SBA 504 program due to SBA rule changes that include an option for the debenture portion to be fully amortized over 25 years.

The pace of SBA 7(a) loans is fairly stable. Both programs were negatively impacted in the short term due to the government shut-down, but the pace has since steadily resumed and increased. Certain areas of lending, such as loans to eligible franchise businesses has experienced greater increases.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

Clients are experiencing more opportunities from new customers from small business clients than six months or a year ago. With indications from the Fed that rates will remain stable throughout 2019, businesses may feel more confident to expand and grow.

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

Most of the changes made in the new SBA Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) provided clarification to interim policy rule changes that occurred since January, 2018.

The new SOP rules became effective April 1, 2019. At this time, it doesn’t appear they have impacted volume to any significant degree. There are changes that expanded the types of eligible borrowers for SBA financing.

Most notably is that some Employee Stock Ownership Plans and Cooperatives may now be eligible. Specific guidelines must be followed, so it is best to contact the lender early in the process to discuss what may or may not be eligible.

In addition, the SBA increased the maximum maturity for tenant improvement loans to have up to 12 months of disbursement period, beyond the 10-year amortized term.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

The fires have been devastating to so many and our goal is to help those impacted get back on their feet.

Fire victims are encouraged to apply for SBA Disaster Relief loans directly. SBA Disaster Relief loans are authorized and approved directly by the SBA disaster relief centers. They can provide more favorable terms as compared to guaranteed loans, that may include longer amortized terms and below market interest rates.

Those who can demonstrate their businesses were economically impacted due to the fires may be eligible to get loans for their businesses for working capital and other costs to rebuild. Those impacted and qualify for Economic Injury type loans have until May 6, 2019, to apply.

For non SBA disaster loans, the lender usually does not take an assignment of the insurance proceeds. Usually, insurance proceeds are provided in the form of two party checks that include the lender and the borrower.

Those funds should then be deposited into a bank controlled account for the eventual decision to be made as to how they will be applied. Not all loans have to be paid off if adequate funds are available to re-build or to replace collateral that was lost.

Borrowers are encouraged to work with their banker to explore options available to them before making any final decisions. If the borrower chooses not to re-build, funds needed to pay-off outstanding principal and interest is first applied and then any remaining funds are available to the borrower

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

A Federal Disaster Declaration was authorized for the victims of floods that occurred in Sonoma County in March, 2019. The U.S. Small Business Administration is the agency that oversees and implements several programs that include Business Physical Disaster loans, Economic Injury Disaster loans, and Home Disaster loans. Victims of flooding may qualify for one or more of these loans that are provided directly through the SBA for loans up to two million dollars.

As with victims of the wildfires, those who were victims of the flood should apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela and make seek further assistance by contacting a local California Small Business Development Center.

Victims may qualify if their homes or businesses are located in Sonoma, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa and Solano counties. Deadlines for submitting an application are May 20, 2019, for those incurring physical damage; and December 23, 2019, for those businesses suffering economic injury.

Business owners are encouraged to seek direct loans through the SBA as those loans will provide more favorable terms.

If you are turned down or don’t qualify for disaster relief funding, please contact a banker with Tri Counties Bank to explore other options that may include SBA and USDA guaranteed loan programs. These programs are subject to borrowers qualifying based on both government agency and the Bank’s policy requirements.

Andrew Chambers

Vice President - SBL Loan Officer
Poppy Bank
438 First Street Santa Rosa 95401
707-293-5167
www.poppy.bank
Email: achambers@poppy.bank

Years worked in the banking business: 16 years

Years at your present position: 2.5 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: In 2018 we grew to nearly $2 billion in assets and expanded into the Southern California market.

We are rapidly expanding to new locations as we build our brand statewide. Most recently, we opened retail branches in Menlo Park, Roseville and Orange County, and added two Small Business Lending offices in Southern California.

We look forward to serving new communities as we grow and expand geographically. In 2019, Independent Banker and the ICBA ranked Poppy Bank as the 6th best performing bank in the country with assets over $1 billion, and S&P Global ranked Poppy Bank as one of the top 100 performing banks in the country with assets between $1 and $3 billion.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

Some businesses may not be aware of the flexibility that the SBA loan programs allow. The SBA programs can open doors for them that are not available with traditional bank financing.

Credit issues, projection based loan requests, special use property types, and collateral shortfalls are things that can be overcome with the SBA programs

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

As a bank specializing in SBA lending, the pace of SBA loan applications to Poppy Bank has been strong for quite some time. In the past year, as we became a nationwide SBA lender and increased the size of our SBA lending team, the amount of applications we process has increased significantly

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

In my opinion, optimism for business activity in the North Bay is very high, and probably the highest it’s been in a long time.

The rebuilding efforts here are tremendous and result in a lot of employment opportunities, especially in the trades and trade related industries. People are working, earning, and spending here in the North Bay, which is great. Tubbs Fire victims are getting back on their feet.

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

SBA loans used to acquire businesses with a large amount of goodwill now require smaller minimum down payments. We have seen this open the door for some buyers who may not have had the resources to acquire a business under the old rules.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

The SBA has three types of loans for Sonoma County flood victims: Business Physical Disaster Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and Home Disaster Loans. Businesses and even non-profits of any size may be eligible. The SBA will check creditworthiness of applicants and asses their ability to repay. They will take collateral if it is available for loan amounts over $25,000. See www.SBA.gov.

Jeff Clark

Senior Loan Officer Live Oak Bank Craft Beverage
100 B Street Suite 100 Santa Rosa 95401
707-921-1102
www.liveoakbank.com
Email address: jeff.clark@liveoak.bank

Years worked in the banking business: 20+ years

Years at your present position: 4+ years

Significant news at your company in the past year: We were the #1 SBA 7(A) lender by volume (SBA fiscal year 2018) and the highest volume lender nationwide for USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Loan Guarantee Programs.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

The mission of the Small Business Administration is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.”The agency’s activities are summarized as the “3 Cs” of capital, contracts and counseling.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

I can only speak for Live Oak Bank, but we have seen an increase in activity

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

The mood is generally upbeat.

Recent stock market volatility combined with increased interest rates and a turbulent political environment created some uncertainty.

Business owners don’t like uncertainty and neither do banks. This caused many businesses to postpone planned expansion in the later part of 2018. We have seen an increase in activity in recent months though. The Federal Reserve’s recent indication interest rates will remain steady for the foreseeable future should give business owners more confidence.

The overall impact if any appears small as far as volume and eligible borrowers.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

The SBA provides disaster loans and business counseling for people and businesses affected by the California wildfires. The type of assistance varies by location. You can learn more at https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/california-wildfires

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

Sonoma County is a Primary Eligible County. Contiguous eligible counties include Lake, Mariin, Mendocino, Napa and Solano counties. As of 3/21/19 the SBA website reports the Incident Period is 2/25/19 and continuing. You can learn more at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/DeclarationDetails?declNumber=5663984&direct=false

Jason Ehn

SBA/Commercial Lending Manager
Redwood Credit Union
3033 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa 95403
707-545-4000
www.redwoodcu.org
Email: jehn@redwoodcu.org

Years in the banking business: 21 years

Years at your present position: 4 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: I’m excited to share that Redwood Credit Union was again ranked as one of the top five healthiest credit unions in the nation, based on 17 metrics of strength and growth according to Glatt Consulting, for the 5th consecutive year.

Our consistency of financial strength and soundness allows us to expand and improve service, and to continue to provide great value to our communities.

As reported last fall in the North Bay Business Journal, we are working on adding a secondary back office location in Napa, which will allow us to attract talent from a broader geographic area as we grow. Later this year we will also be adding new branches in American Canyon and Lower Lake.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

There are SBA loan programs to fit all sizes and ages of small businesses. We still talk to small business owners who have the misconception that SBA loan programs are only for start-ups or very new businesses.

In fact, the SBA loan programs can be used to foster expansion for an established business, as well as finance large capital expenditures like equipment or a new building for a business, with as little as 10% down payment.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

We have seen an increase in SBA loan applications in the past year. We continue to grow our SBA 504, 7(a), and Express portfolios, and the pace of applications for all three SBA loan programs continues to gain momentum. I believe this increase is the result of our years of dedication to the local small business community, coupled with a fairly robust local economy.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

Many financial experts and publications predict an economic slowdown this year and possibly a recession next year on a national scale.

Locally, the climate feels much more hopeful. Thus far this year, we are not seeing a slowdown in our SBA applications. I would say that clients are generally more optimistic right now than six months ago or a year ago.

That said, I do not see any specific thematic reasons for this optimism apart from the usual excitement of business owners in a position to start or grow their businesses, however that directly speaks to the current positive economic climate in our community.

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

We have seen no measurable impact to volume or type of applicants as a result of changes to SBA rules last year.

Changes to program rules are not uncommon and are typically more nuanced rather than grand, sweeping rule changes. Our role as SBA lenders is to shepherd our borrowers through the SBA loan process with its many rules and regulations. There are changes from time to time (for example, a new version of the SBA’s standard operating procedures actually went into effect April 1st), and it is our responsibility as local SBA lenders to understand those changes so we can continue to support and serve our small business community to the best of our abilities.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

RCU is committed to helping our community rebuild. We encourage small business owners who were impacted by the fires to contact us directly so we can understand their specific needs and circumstances, and help them find a solution that fits.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

Federal disaster funds for small businesses are generally only made available through the SBA in the event of a national disaster. When small businesses are impacted by local disasters, like the recent flooding in west Sonoma County, we encourage business owners to contact us directly to see how we can help.

Susan Jensen

Vice president and business development officer, SBA Lending Division
Umpqua Bank
403 Davis Street, Vacaville 95688
707-452-2606
www.umpquabank.com
Email: susanjensen@umpquabank.com

Years in the banking business: 15 years

Years at your present position: 15 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: Umpqua launched an online loan application platform for small 7a loans between $50,000 and $250,000. We previously had a minimum loan amount of $250,000 and are excited to serve the smaller loan needs through this new platform.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

SBA’s participation allows banks to offer longer loan terms and lower down payment requirements which is beneficial for small businesses.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

I’ve not noted any significant changes in the past year.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

Small businesses seem more optimistic than a year ago due to the robust economy. However, many express worries over the high tax and regulatory burden in California versus other states.

Joe N. Smith

Senior Vice President, SBA Manager
Exchange Bank
444 Aviation Boulevard, Santa Rosa 95403
707-541-1493
www.exchangebank.com
Email: joe.smith@exchangebank.com

Years in the banking business: 29 years

Years at your present position: 3 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: Exchange Bank has invested significant resources into its SBA efforts in recent years and I believe we have the best sales, credit and operations team in the Bay Area. Exchange Bank was ranked #1 in SBA 7(a) loan volume in our core market of Sonoma County and is a top-ranked SBA lender throughout the Greater Bay Area.

As a 129 year-old Santa Rosa-based community bank lending only in the Greater Bay Area, and Sacramento areas, Exchange Bank believes in investing in the people, businesses and communities we serve to create a better future for generations to come.

Nowhere is this more evident than the Doyle Trust, which has provided $86 million in scholarship funds to over 132,000 Santa Rosa Junior College students since 1948. 50.44% of the Bank’s cash dividends go directly to the Doyle Trust—a lasting testament to Frank Doyle’s commitment to the community.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

I like to call the SBA program “The Tip of a Small Businesses Financial Sword!”

The program allows for start-up, projection-based loans, business acquisition, building purchase or construction, tenant improvements, working capital, unsecured business loans and lines of credit. Exchange Bank is active in all of these lending categories.

The SBA loan program allows for a bank to pair its most aggressive credit parameters with the extended maturities, limited down payments and little or no prepayment penalties that the program offers. The result is that a business owner can maximize the dollars borrowed with the lowest monthly payments available.

For example, SBA offers 10-year fully amortizing loans for equipment, working capital or business acquisitions. For loans with real estate, 25 year loans are the norm. These are terms that are not offered under conventional loan parameters.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

Exchange Bank had a record year in terms of production in 2018.

SBA loan activity has been steadily increasing in all loan categories. Rising interest rates have triggered many variable rate loans to seek fixed rate financing while a strong economy has led to business expansion. Additionally, people selling their businesses is on the rise. This is one of our most active loan categories.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six months or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

SBA loans do well in times of economic growth as well as in a recession.

In prosperous times, small businesses want to maximize their borrowing to fund growth. In economic slowdowns, an SBA loan can provide capital for stability.

The minimum equity injection requirements can also help conserve cash when borrowing for strategic positioning. Economists are forecasting a slowdown over the next business cycle, which could shift the use of proceeds from growth to stability purposes for many SBA loans as well as slow the number of business acquisitions. Currently there are no signs of either.

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

The Standard Operating Procedures manual for SBA is truly a living document. It is some 426 pages and is regularly updated. These updates and changes are meant to clarify and give direction on SBA issues that need to be addressed.

Often the spirit of what an SBA rule is addressing can get obscured, depending on a loans specific circumstance. The SBA as a governmental department is to be commended for being as transparent with the lending industry in terms of requesting feedback, listening and instituting change in a timely manner.

These recent round of changes have not and should not impede the regular flow of SBA loans. Exchange Bank’s volume and lending strategy is not affected.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

Assignment of insurance proceeds are an eligible source of funds/repayment source when considering an SBA loan.

If the purpose is to bridge the gap between when insurance proceeds are received and a current loan need, then an SBA line of credit may be the appropriate loan type for this short term need. There are no special requirements from the SBA governing this situation.

It’s worth noting that every SBA loan has its own unique circumstances and need for customization. An SBA loan maximizes a bank’s ability to be flexible.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California businesses and residents affected by winter storms and flooding that began on Feb. 25, 2019.

These SBA disaster loans are available in Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. Businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Bob Thompson

Vice President/Loan Officer
Bay Area Development Company
1801 Oakland Blvd., #100, Walnut Creek 94596
925-472-5603 – Direct
www.baydevco.com/
Email: bob@baydevco.com

Years in the banking business: 34 years

Years at your present position: 24 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: The introduction of a 25 year Debenture (the 2nd mortgage loan for an SBA 504 project). Extending the maturity and amortization from 20 years helps to qualify those requests that were “on the edge” when utilizing a shorter 20 year Debenture in the repayment analysis. This has allowed even more small business owners to realize the dream of acquiring their facilities.

Also, the introduction, on a permanent basis, of a refinance program under the SBA 504 loan program has been a great supplement to our product offerings. In addition to allowing for the refinance of eligible, non-federally guaranteed debt, there also exists the ability to finance eligible business expenses, thereby freeing up those associated expense payments to increase business working capital. When previously available on a temporary basis shortly after the great recession, this was a very desired aspect of the SBA 504 loan program

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

That SBA loan programs are available to a large percentage of the overall business population (98% or more) and for a wide variety of purposes. SBA loans are not just for new or struggling businesses, but primarily to assist a wide variety of business types and sizes seeking to grow their businesses with long term financing

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

Despite the recent government shut down, SBA is currently processing loan guarantee applications at or more quickly than historical levels (typically in less than five business days). This is really quite an impressive accomplishment for any government agency.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

In general, I am hearing continued optimism, but with some caution. I believe the cautionary attitude stems from the expectation that our 10 plus year economic upswing is due for a correction or leveling out at some point in the near future, perhaps during the latter part of 2020.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

All insurable collateral for an SBA loan would require an assignment of insurance proceeds to the participating lender. This allows the lender to ensure that insurance proceeds are being used to benefit the collateral taken to secure the related SBA financing, thereby helping to ensure an adequate secondary source of repayment.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a variety of disaster loan programs available to small businesses at low rates of interest. Per the FEMA web site it would appear that an application would be accepted up until Feb. 28th of 2021.

Jenny Tice

Business Development Officer
Capital Access Group
150 California Street, Suite 250, San Francisco 94111
415-217-7600
Email: jtice@capitalaccess.com

Years in the banking business: 8 years

Years at your present position: 1 year

Significant news at your company in the past year: Although Capital Access Group has been an active SBA 504 lender in the North Bay for more nearly 35 years, our company recently deepened our presence in the North Bay by hiring me as a new business development officer with a focus on Solano County, Sonoma County, and Contra Costa counties.

I’m a North Bay native, I graduated from Sonoma State, and am proud to support to the industries that are critical to the local economy. My first SBA 504 project with Capital Access was in my hometown, and I am passionate about supporting businesses in the region.

In other North Bay news, Capital Access Group’s Board of Directors approved $30,000 in grants in 2018 to assist in fire recovery efforts for small businesses in the region. The funds were distributed through Rotary District 5130 and the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund. The grants were used to replace inventory, equipment, tools, repairs, and anything else necessary to re-establish the business. All totaled, the Rotary club provided grants to 274 businesses, for a total of nearly $830,000. We were proud to be part if this effort.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

One of the more confusing features of the SBA 504 loan for borrowers is that the loan package includes funds from two separate sources. The borrower’s lender contributes 50% of the project’s cost, and the SBA provides 40% of the financing through the Certified Development Company (e.g., Capital Access Group). The small business owner provides the remaining 10%.

But small business owners shouldn’t be concerned—that’s why we’re here.

When you apply for an SBA 504 commercial real estate loan, the Certified Development Company works with the lender and the small business owner to put the loan package together, submits the documentation to the SBA for approval, and works with the SBA to keep the process moving forward.

In fact, we are often able to close loans on an accelerated basis if necessary. One client recently said: “We had to close the loan on this building in roughly in six weeks. Facilitating an SBA loan in six weeks seems unheard of, and yet Capital Access made it so simple and so comprehensive. They really bent over backwards. We were in constant contact and it was fabulous to have that level of support.”

Another thing small businesses should know is that the SBA approved a new, 25-year debenture in 2018 to give borrowers another option, with lower monthly payments. The 25-year product meshes well with the loan products typically offered by commercial lenders.

Biggest challenge in the industry you’ve encountered?

The largest challenge I’ve encountered is the same challenge everyone else in the industry is facing today, and that’s the lack of inventory of commercial and industrial properties. It’s increasingly difficult for business owners to find the perfect building with such limited inventory.

From my perspective, however, the lack of inventory makes it even more important for small businesses to own their own facilities, so they’re not pushed out of the market by increasing rents or changing market trends.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

At Capital Access Group, we are definitely doing things quicker these days. Because there are so few properties available, we pre-qualify business owners in a day, and we begin the underwriting process while they are negotiating the purchase contract so that once they sign the contract and the escrow process clock starts ticking, we’re already well into the approval process.

Capital Access has been recognized over the years as one of the fastest SBA 504 lenders in the business. Our loan experts understand that a few days can determine whether or not a borrower gets the building they want for their business

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

The North Bay is such a large, diverse region, that it’s hard to generalize. That said, there’s a lot of new construction taking place as small businesses and homeowners rebuild after the fires of 2017, and the small businesses that were affected by the fires are starting to get back to business as usual.

My personal experience and one-on-one conversations with small business owners across a variety of industries suggests that business owners in the region have an increasingly optimistic view of the future ahead. Many are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to stabilize their expenses, lock in low interest rates, and purchase property and/or heavy equipment to expand.

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

Not applicable. Capital Access does not offer 7(a) loans.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan.

Not applicable. SBA 504 loans are not part of the SBA’s disaster program.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

Not applicable. SBA 504 loans are not part of the SBA’s disaster program.

Brian Wilken

SBA Business Development Officer
Wells Fargo
800 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma 94954
628-217-1629
www.wellsfargo.com
Email: Brian.J.Wilken@wellsfargo.com

Years in the banking business: 12 years

Years at your present position: 1.5 years

Significant news at your company in the past year: Wells Fargo announced recently that Don Fracchia, a tenured leader at the bank, would lead the SBA division. Brian Wilken joined the team and brings a local perspective to the market as a resident of Sonoma County.

What small businesses don’t know about SBA loan programs, but should?

SBA loans typically offer the most advantageous loan terms available for small business owners. The program helps give banks like Wells Fargo the ability to offer loan products with very little money down and long-term fixed-rate amortization schedules.

This helps business owners maximize their cash flow and puts them in a better position to be successful and grow. With an SBA loan, many of our customers are surprised at how attainable it is to turn their small business dream into a reality.

We have also found that some business owners think of SBA lending as a lender of last resort or just for start-up businesses or for those with more challenging credit profiles.

What some may not know is that SBA loans can also help small business owners buy real estate with less money down or help them buy other businesses with less money down than they would conventionally. SBA loans may also have longer amortization which tends to be a draw vs. conventional financing.

How has the pace of SBA loan applications changed in the past year?

We have certainly seen an increase in the number of SBA loan applications in the North Bay over the past 12 months. We see tremendous potential for continued small business growth in this market, which is the reason we felt it was important to bring in a banker that was rooted locally as a resource for business owners.

Assess what you are hearing from clients about the climate for small business activity in the North Bay, more or less optimistic than a six month or a year ago? What’s the reason for any change?

We’re hearing and seeing firsthand that the North Bay continues to hold great opportunity for small business growth. There are certainly challenges in the market for small business owners — high overhead and labor costs and low commercial real estate inventory, but the communities here value, and are eager to embrace, local businesses.

Small business plays a vital role in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties, and we expect the growth trend to continue in 2019 and beyond

Tell us what impact the changes in SBA rules regarding SBA 7a loans which took effect in January 2018 have had in the volume or type of loan seekers.

While this was announced in January, it just went into effect April 1. We have yet to see impacts of this change.

What are the requirements in general for a fire victim regarding assignment of insurance proceeds (current and into the future) as a condition to receive an SBA loan?

We recommend speaking with the SBA on these requirements.

What SBA programs are open to small businesses which suffered losses as the result of the floods in March in Sonoma County? What are the deadlines?

The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to help businesses recover from declared disasters. For available programs, we recommend business owners reference the SBA Disaster Assistance site.

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