Treasury Secretary, SBA Chief Host Listening Session for Entrepreneurs

Forum focuses on getting cash to small businesses

Other recommendations included making government programs more attractive to lenders, developing public-private lending and technical assistance partnerships, increasing SBA loan limits, enhancing small business technical assistance programs, reauthorizing and extending the New Markets Tax Credit Program, and reconsidering how to apply FICO credit scoring of companies that, if not for the recession, would have good to excellent scores.

Mills and Geithner promised to put all of the suggestions gathered throughout the day into a report that will go to the president and also will be available online on the SBA and Treasury Websites.

Lesia Bates Moss, president of Seedco Financial, a Manhattan-based community lending organization, said that the forum was a “great starting point” but there’s a lot more work to be done.

“The clock is ticking with respect to suffering businesses and minority and women-owned businesses are disproportionately affected,” she said. Moss is particularly interested in the discussions that centered on finding ways to allow alternative lenders to provide capital and public-private partnership aspects of the discussion. Her firm is the first to be funded under Goldman Sachs’ $500 million, 10,000 Small Business Initiative, which Moss says will help it continue to deliver innovative lending programs and deliver professional advisory and mentoring services to underserved small businesses.

Representatives of the banking industry, which have earned a bad rap during the credit crunch, had a chance to crow a little during the event. David Rader of Wells Fargo announced that his bank plans to increase its SBA lending in the next year from $828 million to $1.2 billion. Kevin Watters, a JPMorgan Chase executive, told the audience that his firm also has vowed to increase its small business lending and “What I’ve told my folks is, ‘If you’re not sure, do the loan’.”

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