Ashley Archibald, The Union Democrat

Business owners and bank operators were schooled on the ins and outs of special government loans that target small businesses in an effort to boost entrepreneurialism last Wednesday.

John Manalli, the Small Business Administration Fresno district deputy director, led a one and a half hour discussion examining different kinds of loans available to business owners, which worked for specific business situations and how the rules of the programs changed in 2010.

The SBA is a part of the federal government that guarantees loans made by certain commercial banks to small businesses.

Businesses that have less than $15 million in net worth and $5

million in average net income can apply for small business loans, which

the SBA will guarantee up to 75 percent in many cases.

That kind of support gives banks incentive to provide loans to

small businesses which might otherwise have difficulty finding

financing as large commercial banks shy away from most investments.

SBA loans come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are meant to

help businesses with immediate cash flow needs to those who have longer

term development goals.

Manalli specifically pushed so-called "low doc" programs, which

require less paperwork and therefore get quicker approval by the SBA,

including the rural loan programs and SBA Express program.

"They're easier, have less documentation and looser collateral rules," Manalli said.

Oddly, although the SBA doesn't identify as a "collateral lender,"

if collateral is available to be pledged and worthwhile, the

administration expects loan-seekers to put it up.

"We're not collateral lenders, but if you've got it, we want it," Manalli said.

Low doc loans are also much faster to obtain than traditional loans.

The SBA Express loan has a 36-hour window for review, allowing

borrowers to get their applications expedited and business plans under


The SBA also hooks small businesses into federal procurement

programs to attract government contracts and guides small business

owners to free educational services to help get the enterprise off the


The mission is to help small businesses succeed, which is

especially important given the impact that small businesses have on the

national economy, Manalli said.

"Small businesses provide 75 percent of jobs and 99 percent of

employers are small businesses," Manalli said. "Everybody depends on

small business."

Local businesses can seek SBA loans from any SBA-qualified or preferred lender, including Umpqua Bank or Bank of Stockton.

To learn more about SBA loans, contact the SBA Fresno district

office at 559-487-5791, or call the Tuolumne County Business Alliance

at 677-7822.

Contact Ashley Archibald at or 588-4526.