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Spigot or stalled? Loan battle continues

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  • | 7:25 a.m. November 23, 2012
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Bankers entrenched in a recession-infused yin and yang with small business owners have ammunition to prove their position, that financing really is flowing.

The evidence, say some bankers, lies in the U.S. Small Business Administration's fiscal 2012 report on the most active SBA 7(a) lenders in the country. Businesses can use 7(a) loan proceeds for a variety of purposes, according to the SBA, including forming a new business; acquiring, operating or expanding an existing business; buying land, buildings or equipment; and both long-term and short-term working capital. The SBA's fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Of the top 100 7(a) lenders nationwide, 20 banks loaned more than $100 million, the report shows. Those banks, for the most part, are national and regional behemoths. Chase, for example, the commercial banking arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co., provided 4,338 SBA 7(a) loans. That's considerably more than the second place bank, Wells Fargo, which tallied 3,173 SBA loans. Wells Fargo's gross loan amount, on the other hand, was $1.23 billion, which easily bested Chase's $511.95 million, the report shows.

Executives at Chase, which has made a big branch push into Florida and the Gulf Coast, say the Sunshine State is a small business loan priority. Past SBA loans, the bank, says a spokeswoman, has already extended more credit to Florida businesses through the first three quarters of 2012, $512 million, than all of 2011, when it loaned $498 million.

Several other banks with a large Gulf Coast presence scored well on the SBA report. Atlanta-based SunTrust provided 232 loans, for $133.92 million, the report shows, while Fifth Third Bank, a Cincinnati-based lender, made 158 loans valued at $71.1 million. Other banks with a regional presence to make the list include HomeBanc, Regions, Stearns and Synovus.

Tampa-based HomeBanc, a $525 million institution with branches and loan production offices in Lakewood Ranch, Clearwater and Tampa, among other locations, was one of the smaller banks on the overall list. “We are very excited about the SBA recognition,” HomeBanc chairman, president and CEO Jerry Campbell says in a statement.


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