Press: Certified Development Companies Help Secure Loans

June 16th, 2010

Press: Certified Development Companies Help Secure Loans

Excerpts below from an article published in the Las Vegas Business Press, 6/9/2010. To read the complete article, please visit the Las Vegas Business Press website.

Opening Doors Policy

Government programs are increasingly giving businesses a way out of recession doldrums

BY JOHN G. EDWARDS

Mary Lou Soto and her sister, Cindy, worried about their personal safety when they worked after dark at the old warehouse. Then, despite the worst Southern Nevada recession since the 1930s, the owners of Artistic Touch secured financing through a Small Business Administration program to buy a new location in February. They purchased a 5,000-square-foot warehouse at 2543 E. Washburn Road in North Las Vegas for $443,000, and their engraving equipment now whines into the night.

MIKE STOTTS | LAS VEGAS BUSINESS PRESS Eagle Stores President Jeff Marshall, talks Memorial Day with Rita Murphy, a worker at the Trop Stop Gas & Car Wash at 4885 W. Tropicana Ave. Eagle Stores, which owns the Trop Stop, got a commercial real estate loan with help from TMC Development.

Artistic Touch is one among a growing number of local small businesses that are getting help from government programs. The federal, state and local governments are helping small-business owners get loans, learn better management techniques, obtain government contracts, expand into export markets and cut costs. “We’re getting slammed” with new applicants, said Ron Horn, director of the Procurement Outreach Program, a division of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. “They don’t have people knocking on their doors anymore,” Horn said. As a result, Horn said more businesses are coming to his division and asking for guidance on how to bid for prime contracts or as subcontracts on government projects.

Want to buy commercial real estate to use for a business? Virtually the only loans available come with guarantees from the Small Business Administration, said Ann Santiago, vice president and regional loan officer for TMC Development. SBA 7 (a) loans are generally easier to get than conventional loans, because the government increased the guarantees for lenders and set aside fees for borrowers. “It’s a great product in bad times,” said former banker Mark Phillips of Phillips Loan Support Services, a consultant to Nevada Commerce Bank. John Scott, district director for the SBA in Nevada, figures the agency’s programs and federal stimulus law enhancements in the programs have softened the economic crash for small businesses in the Silver State. He can point to several examples of businesses that got a financial boost through the SBA, including the Soto sisters’ Artistic Touch.

CERTIFIED DEVELOPMENT COMPANIES HELP SECURE LOANS

Ann Santiago prides herself on helping small businesses get big loans in tough times, but even she is daunted in times like this. For example, she knew it would be a challenge to facilitate a commercial real estate loan for Jeff Marshall, president of Eagle Stores Inc. His company owns the Trop Stop Gas & Car Wash near the corner of Decatur Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. He wanted to expand so that he would be on the corner of the two streets, not just near the corner. His business was running close to full capacity.

“Last year, the economy has been in the tank. Lenders have been very hesitant to provide any commercial lending whatsoever,” Marshall said. So he turned to Santiago, vice president and regional loan officer for TMC Development, a certified development company. CDCs are nonprofit organizations that package a bank loan and bond with the help of a partial government guarantee. TMC Development helps clients obtain long-term, fixed-rate loans to buy owner-occupied commercial real estate through the SBA 504 program. The SBA takes some of the risk, making lenders more willing to lend to small businesses, but that doesn’t mean it would be an easy deal to do.

A commercial loan for “a gas station in today’s world? Are you kidding?” Santiago asked. “We did it.” It helped that Marshall was a longtime customer of Bank of North Las Vegas, which participated in the deal, she said.

Because the loan was for an expansion, Eagle Stores was able to use $1.7 million of the $4.4 million loan to refinance an existing conventional commercial real estate loan. Under the federal stimulus act, the SBA waived fees, saving Eagle Stores $22,000.

The Trop Stop soon will be bigger and better than the standard convenience store. It already includes Carl’s Jr. hamburger shop. Marshall said: “We’re going to become a mini-truck stop.”

To read the complete article, please visit the Las Vegas Business Press website.