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Wells Fargo plays up loan power status

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  • | 3:51 p.m. December 31, 2010
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A theme of 2010 in the Gulf Coast small business community was the inability of bankers and entrepreneurs to understand each other when it came to loans — or the lack thereof.

Still, Wells Fargo & Co., the fourth largest bank in the country in terms of assets, is playing up its lending prowess. In fact, Wells Fargo was the Florida leader in SBA loans provided to business owners for the third straight year in 2010. With $59.6 million in SBA 7(a) financing, Wells Fargo was up statewide 37% in loans over 2009.

“SBA lending is a key element of our small business lending strategy,” says Hakim Kassam, head of Wells Fargo's SBA Lending Division in Florida, in a statement. “The success of business owners remains crucial to Florida's economy, and Wells Fargo's position as the number one SBA lender gives us a unique opportunity to support our state's economic recovery.”

Coffee Talk, however, could think of more than a few Gulf Coast business owners who haven't had such a good experience with their bank. To be sure, financing, for everyone from restaurant owners to manufacturers to investors clearly hasn't been easy. Those who have secured a loan usually did so through multiple efforts and an increased amount of scrutiny.

At least one local Wells Fargo client realizes his good fortune. Jim Westman, who runs Sarasota-based Octex Corp., a $10 million custom mold injection firm, has been with Wells Fargo since he bought Octex in late 2009.

While not all of Octex's loans were under the SBA programs, Westman nonetheless praises the bank. Wells Fargo, for instance, recently provided financing for nearly $900,000 in equipment purchases Octex made. “They've been fantastic,” says Westman. “We couldn't have asked for a better partner.”


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