Number of local SBA loans drops

But their value more than doubles from previous year

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor



Lenders issued fewer Small Business Administration-backed loans in Clark County during the last quarter of 2011 than during the same period in 2010 or 2009, according to SBA’s Oregon Division, based in Portland.

But even with fewer loans, the dollar amount of those Clark County loans more than doubled in that same two-year period, the SBA reported.

Those trends are at odds with the pattern for the entire service area of SBA’s Portland District office — the $84.3 million value of SBA-backed loans for its first quarter was down by half from 2010 and slightly above loan amounts in 2009. Regionwide, the SBA reported 206 loans during last year’s fall quarter, lower than the previous two years.

In Clark County, the 19 SBA-backed loans issued between October and December 2011 carried a total value of $15 million. All were in SBA’s 7 (a) program, which provides financial help for businesses with specific and specialized needs, including foreign exports. Jennifer Baker, an economic development specialist at the SBA’s Oregon District office, said the large dollar increase in the loans was due to a few unusually large loans in Clark County during last fall’s quarter.

Key Bank and West Coast Bank were the top lenders in Clark County, each with four loans. Combined, those eight loans totaled $1.26 million. But Pacific Continental, with a single $5 million loan, was the largest Clark County lender by dollar amount.

Rule changes

For the entire Oregon District that includes southwest Washington, SBA reported 206 loans valued at $84.35 million. Of those, 187 were though the 7 (a) program. West Coast Bank was the largest lender, with 35 loans, followed by U.S. Bank with 34 loans.

The remaining 19 loans were in SBA’s 504 program. In that program, an SBA-certified development corporation provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses for assets needed in business expansion or modernization.

Last week, the SBA said it has amended its rules to expand the number of businesses eligible for SBA-backed loans in its broad category of “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Other Services.” The rule published in the Federal Register increases 37 of the SBA’s revenue-based size standards in dozens of industries within those categories, the agency said.

It estimated that as many as 8,350 additional firms will become eligible for SBA programs as a result of those revisions.