As a community bank, Citizens Union Bank does all it can to make sure local businesses on Main Street USA get the financing they need.
“We’re here to help borrowers come up with the money they need and lower their down payments,” says Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President and Head of Small Business Administration (SBA) Lending at CUB. “Whether it’s car washes, machine shops or gas stations, we provide good quality loans through the SBA.”
David Bowling, CUB’s CEO says, “Having strong SBA expertise is an important part of our continued focus on small businesses. It gives us the opportunity to work with customers that may not fit the typical profile for a conventional bank loan.”
CUB has recently expanded its SBA offerings and has hired experienced SBA professionals to serve its customers. The government guarantees 75 percent of SBA loans, and they require only a 10 percent down payment, which is significantly lower than the 20 to 30 percent required by traditional loans. SBA loans are also more flexible and provide a longer-term amortization of 25 years, rather than the typical 20 years.
“When you walk down Main Street in your town, all these businesses you pass by are owned by someone,” Jackson says. “They are your neighbors and they enable cities to thrive. I’m here to help them. The fun part of my job is meeting small business people and hearing about their goals and dreams.”
The SBA web site provides a wealth of information about entrepreneurship, including how to create a business plan, researching the market and customer demographics, exploring interest rates, tracking consumer spending as well as data about specific industries.
SBA loans have sometimes had a reputation for being long on paperwork and slow to close. Not so at CUB.
“There’s a stigma with SBA loans sometimes because people think there’s too much paper,” Jackson says. “We have created a high-service closing and can walk our customers through every step of the process. I think we have a higher-touch delivery process than other banks. We make SBA loans much easier, particularly for first-time business buyers.”
CUB’s minimum SBA loan is $150,000 and its maximum is $5 million. SBA loans would typically not be involved in start-ups, but they can be used for businesses that have real estate, some service businesses with assets, and owner-occupied businesses, Jackson says.
“We are local and we really understand the local market in Kentucky,” Jackson says. “Face-to-face interactions are a must in this business. For a lot of people, it’s the biggest loan they will take out in their lifetimes.”
Jackson, who possesses 18 years of SBA lending experience and was hired recently to build and expand CUB’s SBA Loan Department, says his top priority is welcoming new business customers to CUB and finding solutions to their lending needs. He says all kinds of businesses are eligible for SBA loans, even those as diverse as funeral homes, elder care, ambulance services and transmission shops.
Jackson says he is always available to talk to business owners about their lending needs, and he can be reached by phone at (859) 361-8764 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The best part of my day is talking to small business owners and helping them achieve their dreams,” Jackson says. “There’s nothing like it. I love my job.”