At the recent summit sponsored by Sen. Bob Bennett one of the break out sessions was on securing funding to start a business or expand a current business.
Stan Nakano of the Utah office of the Small Business Administration said they awarded 2,012 loans last year and a record number of those were for women and minorities. Start-up loans numbered 628.
The four member panel consisted of those involved in lending money to companies and individuals. Steve Price, Gordon Holt, Randy Horiuchi, and Richard Carrig spoke of their different institutions and their involvement in loans. Holt is a trustee for the Utah Business Lending Corporation.
This corporation assists small businesses in the state by offering microlending and business education services, administering a rural lending program for the Dept. of Agriculture and a revolving loan fund for Salt Lake county. Holt is also a SCORE counselor who lends support to those beginning businesses with his expert advice.
Horiuchi is the vice president of Business Development, Mountain West Small Business Finance. This company is one of the leading SBA lenders in the country.
Price is the assistant director for the SBA and he manages the SBA financial and technical assistance programs in the state. Over the past five years the Utah SBA office has approved over $1 billion in small business loans.
Carrig is responsible for the administration of over a dozen rural business and cooperative programs.
Price reminded everyone of how Nike shoes began in a garage. One day a guy in Oregon was cleaning out his garage and took an old waffle iron and softened a piece of rubber and glued it on his shoes and it gave him faster starts in the races he liked to run. He had people asking him to make them shoes like his. So he approached a bank and asked for $50,000 to start his company. His business was to melt tires in waffle irons and make shoes with them. "If you have an idea you think will work, it doesn't always fall within the conventional guidelines. The SBA will guarantee your loan to the lender. The SBA helps small businesses get access to capital. It is important to be well prepared and do your business plan. Sometimes it's difficult to get a lender to buy into your idea," said Price.
"Not everyone is well versed in every aspect of running a business. Putting together a business plan, doing market research, keeping books; the tasks involved can be daunting. We have the SCORE program which is comprised of businessmen who will help out and offer free business counseling," said Price.
Other programs which are beneficial are the Women's business center. The SBA will also help with procurement of federal contracts and selling products to the government. The SBA will also help the economically disadvantaged get government contracts. There is also money to be made in international trade. "Think about exporting products. Ninety-five percent of the world's population is outside of the United States and two-thirds of the world's money is outside of the United States. Think about exporting on the international market. There is a man who buys used levis and resells them in a foreign market. Another man exports used railroad ties. Another man imports shrimp for sale from Japan. One day on a tour in Japan he asked them what the shrimp ate and they told him brine shrimp and fly eggs. Now this man exports the brine shrimp from the Great Salt Lake to feed the shrimp which he ships back in to sell in the American market," said Price.
The SBA is one of the best kept secrets. "We want small business to succeed and create jobs. When loans are stretched out over a longer period of time then it helps with cash flow. Businesses can stay in business longer. The people in Utah are entrepreneurs. They are willing to take risk. But, Utah is also second in bankruptcy. You must do your homework. On the SBA website. www.sba.gov, there are 50,000 pages of information for small business owners. Last year Nike was a $13 billion company and it started in a garage," said Price.
Horiuchi said their company is a leader in small business finance and SBA loans. They have helped create billions of dollars in capital and 50,000 jobs were created in rural Utah. In the Uintah Basin area they helped with the Roosevelt bowling alley and Stewarts Market. They help in the area of obtaining land, the building and equipment for the business. "If you don't use this program, (SBA) you lose money. We offer fixed rate loans for up to 20 years at 6.8 percent and at a bank you would pay 8.5 percent or even higher. You save money and get a fixed rate. You can keep a liquid cash flow, buy inventory, hire an employee; that extra cash flow is very important. We've been involved in some very interesting projects," said Horiuchi.
Holt said he gives loans for the Department of Agriculture, these are business loans, not farm loans. They help people acquire buildings, because sometimes rent is higher than just making payments on your own building. "I love lending. You need to ask yourself, 'what economic benefit does your idea have?' We loan for buildings, machinery and equipment. Any money needed the department will loan. We loaned to three movie theatres, a bed and breakfast, tractor repair, grocery store, pet cremation and many others. We have helped legal immigrants who needed a computer and cooking equipment to start their own restaurant. It's fun to do lending. The last three people I helped had been turned down by the banks. I helped them fix a few things and got them the loan. Last week on a loan I couldn't find the money in Utah so I contacted a niche lender in Tennessee who said OK and we secured the loan. You need to find the right bank at the right time. I have operated a business also and sat at both sides of the table. I help people get money for the least cost," said Holt.
Carrig said he works with an administration that has 40 programs. They help with business and economic development. They help set up longer term loans for real estate. Their office guarantees larger loan amounts. They help with startup businesses and fund infrastructure. They help strengthen rural economics and provide good quality jobs in rural communities. They have been funding many alternative energy sources development lately. They have also been working on value added products and working with farmers and ranchers to get more profit for their products.
Two-thirds of SBA loans go to existing businesses for expansion and valid purposes.