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VOL. 126 | NO. 233 | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Magna Bank Leads County’s SBA Lenders

By Andy Meek

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Memphis-based Magna Bank was the top Small Business Administration lender in Shelby County and among the top SBA lenders statewide for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, according to the SBA’s Tennessee District Office.

Magna approved a little more than $12 million in SBA 7(a) loans during that period. The SBA describes its 7(a) loan program as one of the federal agency’s main tools for helping startups and existing small businesses get financing.

The SBA guarantees loans made by participating institutions and doesn’t make the loans itself.

“We’re optimistic we’re going to continue to see growth in SBA lending,” said Marty Ferguson, vice president-small business lending with Magna.

Magna started its SBA program in early 2010, and Ferguson has managed it since its inception.

“We’ve continued to expand on the type of deals we do,” he said. “We’ve also expanded our market this past year. And we’re putting more resources into marketing and into staffing for SBA lending going into 2012.

“So we expect our numbers to be equal to or greater than what they were in 2011. Really, the biggest hurdle is just finding qualified borrowers.”

Meanwhile, during the same period between October 2010 and September 2011 Memphis-based Triumph Bank was the No. 2 SBA lender in Shelby County by dollar volume for 7(a) loans, with a little less than $9 million. Triumph was ranked ninth in the state for 7(a) loans.

Coinciding with that large amount of SBA-related lending flowing from Memphis and Shelby County, SBA administrator Karen Mills was in the city in early November to launch an updated small-business loan program.

Mills toured Evaporcool, a company that helps businesses cut energy and maintenance costs while also extending the life of their HVAC systems. She also touted the SBA’s CAPLines lending program, which features a revolving line of credit that helps small businesses meet short-term and cyclical working capital needs.

The CAPLines program was tweaked recently with input from Magna and Triumph to make it easier for banks to apply for funds and to cut down on paperwork involved.

“We’re honored to have been involved in helping to redesign this program,” Triumph president Will Chase said in a statement released about the program. “We have always actively supported the growth of small businesses across our community and are excited at how this can make the funding they need more accessible.”

As far as SBA lending goes, Ferguson said Magna gets a lot of requests from start-ups but prefers “to do franchise-type deals” if it’s going to be helping a start-up business. Magna also finances a lot of real estate deals through both the SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs.

“We like to help companies that are young, that are growing and may be expanding from lease space into their own occupied space,” Ferguson said. “One of the hot buttons in the economy right now is job creation. And I think that SBA lending is one of the best tools to use to help small companies grow, which eventually is going to help create more jobs.”

PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157