M&T tops region in SBA small-business lending program

M&T Bank remained the region’s top lender in a Small Business Administration program geared toward small businesses that might otherwise have trouble obtaining financing.

M&T led the SBA’s Buffalo District in both loans and dollar volume in the SBA’s flagship 7(a) program, approving 117 loans for a combined $23.4 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the federal agency said.

KeyBank was second in loans, at 37, followed by Five Star Bank’s 18, according to the SBA.

In dollar volume, CNB Bank – the parent of Bank on Buffalo – was second, at $7.5 million, from just five loans, the SBA said. KeyBank ranked third, with $5.1 million.

The SBA’s 7(a) program is an another avenue to financing for small businesses, and gives banks greater confidence to lend to them. The SBA guarantees 85% of 7(a) loans of up to $150,000, and 75% for loans above $150,000. The maximum loan amount is $5 million.

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Businesses use the funds for purposes like expansion, buying equipment and refinancing business debt.

“It’s a fantastic program to encourage entrepreneurship and, obviously, job creation,” said Darren King, M&T’s chief financial officer.

The guarantee that the SBA attaches to the program “just widens the number served in an affordable way,” King said.

Banks including M&T and KeyBank also were active in the Paycheck Protection Program, another SBA initiative that was designed to keep employees on the payroll at small businesses during the height of the pandemic. Both banks are also among the national leaders in the 7(a) program.

Christopher Gorman, KeyBank’s chairman and CEO, said the SBA’s loan programs are a meaningful way to provide financing to small businesses. “We feel like we have a really good machine as it relates to SBA loans, and it’s an important opportunity to avail our middle market customers to,” he said.

Twenty six lenders participated in the 7(a) program in the SBA’s Buffalo district during the past fiscal year, issuing 229 loans for $63.3 million. M&T accounted for 51% of those loans and 37% of the volume. The participants included lenders who don’t have a physical presence in Western New York.

That pool of participants could grow even larger. The U.S. government is considering opening up access to the 7(a) program to fintechs – businesses that use technology to enhance financial services – and other types of alternative lenders.

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