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SBA and CDFI’s gather in Chicago at Opportunity Finance Network’s Small Business Finance Forum to Discuss SBA’s Community Advantage Program

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As we announced last month, Prudent Lenders, LLC launches this month as a new venture to offer a unique platform to institutions eligible to participate in the SBA’s Community Advantage Program through a model emphasizing a critical balance between process efficiency and material regulatory compliance. As a new key player in the industry, Prudent Lenders, LLC could not pass-up on the opportunity to discuss crucial features, trends, and potential changes to the SBA’s Community Advantage Loan Program while mingling with key members of some of the nation’s top small business finance providers and other industry partners at OFN’s first annual Small Business Finance Forum in Chicago. At the opening of the forum’s programing, host Mark Pinsky, President and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network, (“OFN”), welcomed all attendees for an event which artfully combined lively round-table discussions and enlightening presentations from top industry and Agency insiders with great networking opportunities. We certainly were proud to be among some of the industry’s key players in attendance.

Senator Richard Durbin (Assistant Majority Leader, U.S. Senate) and Don Graves (United States Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development and Housing Policy and Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness) provided attendees with opening remarks for the forum.
The SBA’s Deputy Administrator, Marie Johns, provided the keynote address. During her address, Ms. Johns informed attendees that the SBA’s Community Advantage Program, initially launched on February 15, 2011 as a three-year pilot program, would be extended for an additional three years in part due to the program’s success thus far in providing underserved business communities with access to much-needed capital. Other highlights of the forum included:

• Community Advantage 101: SBA officials Andrea Giles and Andrea Peoples provided attendees with an introductory session on the program, outlining program offerings to Community Development Finance Institutions, (“CDFI”) small business lenders and the small business clients CDFI lenders serve, new features of the program, and an overview of how to participate in the program.

• Community Advantage Roundtable Discussion: Approved Community Advantage lenders participated in a roundtable discussion in order to provide insights into program features and help newly approved CDFI’s to better understand the program. Representatives of two successful SBA Community Advantage Lenders, Patrick J. MacKrell of NYBDC and Kurt Chilcott of CDC Small Business Finance, shared with attendees many of their experiences and suggestions for success.

• Pricing Small Business Products and Services: Ceyl Prinster of Colorado Enterprise Fund, Greg Wineland of Hope Enterprise Corporation and Jason Friedman of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs led a session on the best way to price the loans and other products and services typically offered by Community Development Financial Institutions to the communities they serve.

• Small Business Lending 101: Pam Porter and Wanda Speight of OFN offered an introductory course on small business finance.

• Measuring the Outcomes of Your Technical Assistance and Training Services: Tamra Thetford of FIELD at The Aspen Institute and Galen Gondolfi offered insights into indicators of success and performance data related to the management and technical assistance CDFI’s provide small business clients.

• Portfolio Management: Donna Nails and Roni Monteith provided a best practices session on loan loss reserve policies, loan modifications and restructures, portfolio monitoring, and reporting policies.

• Tax Credits for Small Business Loans: Ken Brezenoff of Seedco Financial, Karan O’Mansky of Self-Help, Kevin Boes of LISC’s New Markets Support Company, and Ira Weinstein of the Reznick Group, P.C. offered insights into successfully using New Markets Tax Credits to expand small business lending volume and increase loan size.

• Bank Products and Services for CDFI’s: Don Letendre of Bank of America, Dan Delahanty of Capital One, Michael Rhodes of Chase Bank, Amir Kirkwood of Citi, Christina Shapiro of Goldman Sachs, Sarah Bennett of Wells Fargo, and Greg Schiefelbein of OFN led a discussion on bank programs available for CDFI’s.

• Cultivating a Sales Culture: Judson McGhee of Accion Texas, Inc. and Seth Julyan of OFN led a discussion of creating and incentivizing sales within the CDFI organization.

OFN is a national network of CDFI’s, a trade organization of private financial organizations dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to empower low-income and other disadvantaged communities and people to actively participate in and join the economic mainstream. To learn more about OFN and its constituent members, visit www.opportunityfinance.net

Prudent Lenders, LLC is committed to fostering the mission of the U.S. Small Business Administration and our goal is to provide lender services to those CDFI’s and SBA Certified Development Companies who wish to provide the SBA Community Advantage Loan Program to the communities they serve. Prudent Lenders, LLC offers new lenders a complete outsourced loan platform to help navigate through the various stages of SBA lending: from eligibility to processing, underwriting, closing, and servicing and liquidation. We believe by being both prudent and profitable, mission based lenders can offer a sustainable program that will meet the objectives of the SBA and the CDFI’s and Certified Development Companies we wish to serve.

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