By Karen Stokes
Business owners and prospective business owners filled the lobby at Seaway Bank and Trust Company, 2102 W. Fond du Lac Ave. for the Small Business Luncheon. The event focused on financial resources and counseling with presentations from Seaway Bank in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE.
Speakers Tracy Meeks, SVP/North Division manager, Seaway Bank and Trust Company, Michael Fazio, Lender Relations/ International Trade, U.S. Small Business Administration and Joyce Goulet, SCORE Chapter Chair, Southeast Wisconsin gave presentations to inform small business owners on available resources to help them build and grow their businesses and answered their questions.
The black owned Seaway Bank is recognized as one of the nation’s largest minority owned banks that serves families, nonprofits and businesses in diverse neighborhoods. Seaway purchased Legacy Bank in March 2011.
“Seaway offers loans for nonprofit and for profit businesses but SBA offers programs to for profit businesses,” said Meeks.
Pastors Calvin and Anna Stanley were having issues with the loan on their church and were looking for assistance.
“We are having problems with our church loan, we have a lot of equity in the church and we are seeing if they will have a meeting for nonprofit businesses,” said Pastor Anna. “We started the loan with Legacy Bank and need help from Seaway.
“We are going to be proactive,” Pastor Calvin said.
When approached by the pastors with questions on nonprofit loans, Meeks assured them Seaway Bank is looking to have an informational meeting for nonprofit businesses later in the year.”
The SBA develops small business loans and assistance programs, special outreach efforts and initiatives to inform and assist small businesses. Over 160 active bank and non-bank lenders throughout Wisconsin provide SBA loans for new or existing businesses.
In November, SBA introduced Boots to Business Reboot, an entrepreneurship training program for veterans.
“SBA is for startups, growing your business and succeeding,” said Fazio. “We work with for profit businesses.”
SBA conducts training through resource partners. SCORE is one of their partners.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization offering free mentoring to startups and existing small businesses. In 2014, 8,085 new businesses started from SCORE in Wisconsin.
“Small business is the backbone of America,” said Goulet. “The majority of new jobs come from small businesses.”
Larentanon Gary, 44, a small business construction owner, attended the luncheon to learn about resources. “I’m here to see if I can find some financing to fit my needs. I’ve been in construction for 12 years, I have 14 employees and I am looking to buy some new equipment and a couple of vans to grow my business,” said Gary.
According to SBA, small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs, the number of small businesses in the United States has increased 49 percent and the 28 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales.