The new regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Seattle toured Thurston County on Wednesday, meeting with business owners to get feedback about the pros and cons of working through the SBA loan process.
Calvin Goings, who has been on the job for four months, oversees Region 10, a four-state area that includes Washington and Oregon. Also taking part in the tour were Celia Nightingale, director of the Small Business Development Center of South Puget Sound Community College, and Tiffany Scroggs of the Thurston County Economic Development Council.
The group met Carolyne Hart, the longtime owner of Olympia Framemakers, about noon. Her business recently moved from Cooper Point Road to 1822 Harrison Ave., the former site of Olympia Art & Frame Opas.
Olympia Framemakers is a 32-year-old business that had spent much of its history in a strip mall off Cooper Point Road. Hart applied for and received an SBA loan that helped her acquire and renovate the building on Harrison Avenue. The business paid $495,000 for the property, according to Thurston County Assessor data.
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Goings also visited a 30,000-square-foot distribution center at Mottman Industrial Park used by Mud Bay, a retailer of healthy food for dogs and cats. Marisa Wulff, a co-owner of the business, said Mud Bay has used SBA loans for growth, building acquisitions and working capital. One of those loans, an $860,000 loan in 2000, was used to acquire another business in the Seattle area and help Mud Bay grow from one store to nine, she said.
The business now has 17 stores throughout the Puget Sound region. Three opened last year, and four are expected to open this year, Wulff said.
Hart and Wulff praised the SBA loans, saying they were fast and that the loan process worked.
South Sound Bank has embraced SBA loans, processing 43 for Thurston County businesses in the past six months, President and Chief Executive Dan Yerrington said.
“It was a good niche that wasn’t being filled by others,” he said. The SBA loans processed by the bank for all of 2009 helped create about 150 jobs, Yerrington said.
Banks like SBA loans because they typically finance only a portion of a loan, with the government picking up the rest, and business owners like the loans because they come with lower interest rates and require less money down, he said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/bizblog