Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Success of Small Business Conference Altered Attendance at Briefing by SBA

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Success of Small Business Conference Altered Attendance at Briefing by SBA

Article excerpt

The Governor's Conference on Small Business was so well attended last week that only two people showed up at the weekly U.S. Small Business Administration briefing for people interested in starting their own businesses.

Average attendance is about 12 people, said Jim Embree, assistant director for finance and investment for the Oklahoma City SBA office.

The weekly briefing is one way the agency has found to deal with staff cuts that left the finance division with six people to review all Oklahoma loan applications, down from a high of 10 people in 1982. The Oklahoma City office as a whole has 29 employees, he said.

"The agency has been cut back so much in personnel, we just can't handle one-on-one interviews. To handle the inquiries that we get, we set this up once a week," Embree said.

Attendance at the briefings has been erratic, he said. In contrast to the two people showing up last week, 45 attended the May 31 briefing, Embree said.

Each week at 10 a.m. a representative from a different certified lender of SBA loans discusses the 7A Guaranteed Loan Program, through which the SBA guarantees a percentage of the loan, but the lender disburses funds and the small business owner deals directly with the lender. The meetings are in suite 670 of the A.P. Murrah Federal Building, 200 N.W. 5th St. in Oklahoma City.

Today, the scheduled speaker is Kent Faison, with Southwest Commercial Capital, a non-bank lender, and the June 28 scheduled speaker is Sue Kite, with First Interstate Bank of Oklahoma NA.

Catherine Anderson, last week's speaker and an assistant vice president of Stillwater National Bank & Trust Co., said attendees are "folks that do not know what to look for when they go in to talk to their lender."

Her goal is to help them visualize the lender's concerns, through proof they have a tangible toe-hold in the business, that the business can repay the debt out of its profits, and that the collateral offered is enough to protect the interests of the government and the bank.

"One of the first questions that any lender is going to ask them is how much they need, and the worst response you can give is `How much will you give me?' ," Anderson said. "You'd be surprised how much you hear that."

Lenders also look at the type of business and the management, she said.

"It's not a clear-cut thing," Anderson said. "We try to weigh each individual loan proposal on its own merits. …

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