Magazine article Independent Banker

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Magazine article Independent Banker

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Article excerpt

Small-business owners come by the thousands to the Small Business Administration's website to learn about loan programs that may benefit them. Many of them "are looking for lenders," points out Ann Marie Mehlum, who is associate administrator in the SBA's Office of Capital Access.

To harness such enquiries for lenders, early this year the SBA unveiled its online portal called Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital, also dubbed LINC. The portal captures information from prospective small-business borrowers and forwards that to SBA-approved lenders. More than 15,000 prospective borrowers have been referred to lenders through the portal.

Available to all SBA 7(a) program lenders nationwide, LINC works as a matchmaker to gather basic lending information from prospective SBA program small-business borrowers, such as how long their businesses have operated, what their annual revenues are, for what purpose and how long they would use loaned money, and whether they have collateral to backstop any borrowings.

Once entrepreneurs have emailed their information, SBA passes it on to lenders that have indicated an interest in the prospective borrower's type of business. Participating LINC lenders can designate a geographic area, loan size or borrowing purpose to indicate which borrowers they would best match.

"LINC is one of the best tools SBA has come out with," says Nasrullah Khan, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Wallis State Bank, a $380 million-asset community bank in Houston.

More than 300 lenders are on LINC, which is a no-cost service. …

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