Nationwide, 9 percent of small businesses are veteran-owned.
Now, a new program, involving community, regional and national lenders, aims to make it easier for veterans to access capital to start their own businesses or get financing for existing ones.
Locally, the Portage Community Bank, is the first Northeast Ohio community bank that has signed on to the U.S. Small Business Administration Veterans Pledge Initiative to increase the number of SBA loans for veterans by 5 percent each year for five years.
With an SBA loan, the bank provides the loan to the borrower, and the SBA guarantees a portion of the loan.
“I think it’s significant that we have a community bank here willing to step up to help the veterans community,” said Gil Goldberg, head of the Small Business Administration’s Cleveland district office.
Goldberg said he hopes that Portage Community Bank’s action will inspire other community banks to participate in the pledge program.
Larger lenders participating include Key Bank, Huntington National Bank and PNC, all with operations in the Akron-Canton area.
Nationwide, the SBA expects to help an additional 2,000 veterans obtain loans to start or expand small businesses by increasing lending by $475 million over the next five years.
The Portage Community Bank, with offices in Ravenna and Kent, already is an SBA Preferred Lender, meaning it can approve SBA loan requests in house. The Portage bank, with $272.9 million in assets in 2012, was begun in 1998 by a group of local investors.
A local veteran with a trucking/hauling company, who received a loan through Portage Community Bank, appeared at a recent news conference organized to promote lending to veterans.
Goldberg noted that the veteran began with one truck and about three years later has 11 trucks.
For more information about SBA loans, visit www.sba.gov.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.