Once told ‘girls don’t get business cards,’ Barbara Morrison builds TMC into major Bay Area small-business lender

When innovators and entrepreneurs approach TMC Financing founder and President Barbara Morrison of Sonoma hopeful to secure the funding that will help them realize their business dreams, she can tap into her own experiences.

Long before she started an East Bay-based finance company that has secured more than $10 billion in Small Business Administration 504 loans for real estate projects throughout California, Nevada and Arizona, she worked in San Francisco City Hall, including the day when Mayor George Moscone and gay activist, Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed by disgruntled Supervisor Dan White.

She was calling over to the mayor’s office from the Economic Development Department on that day — Nov. 27, 1978 — and recalled being stunned to learn the news from someone right after it happened.

“’The mayor has been shot and killed’ someone came on the line to tell me,” she told the Business Journal in a sober tone.

It made her stop and think of how precious life is and how suddenly it all can be taken away.

Characterizing herself as “a child of the ‘60s,” Morrison, 70, was out to save the world.

And if government couldn’t do it or was part of the problem, the future financier who graduated from the University of Vermont was convinced she could rely on her own gumption to pull her through tough times and horrendous obstacles.

Early on, the world of finance intrigued her — despite her liberal arts major. She graduated and went to work in administration at Paine Webber’s San Francisco office, where she developed an interest in becoming a trader.

But she quickly received an education in sexism 101.

Of the firm’s 40 stockbrokers, none was a woman. Still she took and passed the required exam.

“Somehow I talked my way into getting the job, but for incredibly low wages,” she said of her newfound securities broker position.