SBA lending chart
Small business lending in Missouri rebounded in 2012 after dipping in 2011, according to figures from the Small Business Administration.
Last year, more than $400 million in federally guaranteed loans were made to businesses in the state, creating some 5,000 new jobs and retaining more than 9,000 more. The number of loans and corresponding dollar values increased about 15 percent in 2012. Comparisons to 2008, the last year before the recession, are difficult since the SBA increased loan amounts to $5 million in late September of 2010, affecting applications as well as total loaned funds (see chart).
Keith McLaughlin, senior vice president of the Bank of Missouri and a nationally recognized expert on SBA lending, says that lending never stopped during the downturn but that many businesses were skittish of borrowing because of the economy. He says his role in the lending process is to work with borrowers to ensure their success.
“The business plan is important, but it’s still about personal character,” McLaughlin says.
To help prepare small business people for the lending process, McLaughlin often refers them to mentoring from SCORE, a nonprofit business counseling service.
Elinor Arendt, the president of the mid-Missouri group that services 200 clients a year from Columbia, Jefferson City, and Kirksville, says that some potential borrowers just aren’t ready to move forward to start businesses.
“It’s tough work,” she says.