For the second year in a row, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs placed more than $750 million into the hands of North Carolina small businesses. The agency reported recently that in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, it guaranteed 1,460 loans for over $849 million in the state.
Wells Fargo Bank was North Carolina’s top 7(a) lender (ranked by number of loans), having made 224 loans for a total of more than $60 million. First National Bank of Pennsylvania (which acquired Raleigh- based Yadkin Bank in March) landed the No. 2 spot with 77 loans for nearly $45 million.
Wilmington-based Live Oak Bank, which specializes in SBA-backed loans, was the third-largest lender (in number of loans) to North Carolina businesses, with 64 loans. Those loans, however, totaled more than $93 million, making Live Oak North Carolina’s largest lender in terms of loan value.
Those large banks aside, two smaller banks with a local presence made especially significant leaps among the SBA fiscal year lender rankings.
Raleigh-based North State Bank, with one location in Wilmington, moved up the list from 47th in FY2016 to 18th in 2017. First Bank, with nine area branches, went from 38th in FY2016 to 20th in 2017. Both institutions have made an aggressive effort to take a bigger bite out of the SBA market.
Southern Pines-based First Bank acquired SBA Complete, a national company that does SBA loan processing, and established its SBA sales office in Wilmington, headed by Stephanie Dunn. That office now employs three full-time salespeople: Dunn, Laura Petty and Whitney Bouknight.
“We have been busy,” Dunn said. “Sales have exploded. We’re 34th in the entire country, so we are thrilled.”
A recent loan in Wilmington is helping Gary Sholar turn an old firehouse into a brewery. Sholar, who sells food processing equipment, realized he could bring his knowledge – and contacts – in that industry to the booming craft beer market.
With plans to establish pirate- themed Edward Teach Brewery, he found a suitable building, located in the up-and-coming North Fourth Street neighborhood. He applied for an SBA loan through his large bank that would allow him to do renovations and purchase the equipment.
“The response time was not what we wanted,” he said. “Large institutions are caught up in paperwork and bureaucracy.”
A recommendation sent him to Dunn at First Bank. “We started from scratch, with a business plan, projections and an assessment of the competition,” Dunn said.
Several other banks that serve the Wilmington market also made gains in SBA lending in North Carolina during FY2017; among them: Sun- Trust increased the amount it lent by about $3 million to $28.8 million; BB&T increased its number of loans and the total loan value by nearly $2 million to $18.2 million; and First South Bank also upped its lending about $2 million to $8.6 million.
First Citizens Bank made a total of 31 loans for $20.8 million, an increase of 10 loans and more than $5 million over FY2016; PNC was up slightly, lending about $500,000 more in FY2017 than in the previous SBA fiscal year, and TD Bank more than doubled the number of loans it made, to 31, for a total loan value of $13.8 million. That was more than a $5 million increase over the previous SBA fiscal year.