One bellwether of the economy is the hiring of temporary workers, and CAREERXCHANGE, a staffing company with offices in Miami-Dade and Broward, is seeing its business grow with the recovery, said Suzanne Hodes, vice president and chief financial officer and one of the firm’s principals.
As a result, CAREERXCHANGE needed a larger line of credit, which it got from Chase Bank.
The company pays the workers that it places on a weekly basis, so it needed a $2 million line of credit to bridge the gap of 30 to 60 days that it takes to be paid by its clients, Hodes said.
“We don’t use our line of credit for everyday operations,” she said. “We use it just for seasonal surges.”
Other banks are also increasing their focus on small business lending. In South Florida, banks like TD Bank and BankUnited also ranked high in loans last year. And Bank of America said it wants to boost its loans, recently hiring more than 1,000 small business bankers across the country, including about 50 in South Florida.
SunTrust Bank is also seeing an upward trend and has added to its SBA-dedicated staff.
“We definitely see companies that are more healed than they have been,” said Jeff Nager, SBA division executive for SunTrust Bank, in Raleigh, N.C. “We’re seeing an uptick in the quality of the applications, the quality and the stability of the businesses. So we’re seeing some positive momentum in South Florida.”
As a result of the growth, SunTrust added a third SBA business development officer in South Florida at the beginning of the year. In all, the bank has 61 business and commercial bankers in South Florida, including those focused on SBA lending.
“Borrowers — small businesses and large businesses — have been holding cash, and it was the right thing to do in these economic times,” Nager said. “They have worked through that, and it’s time to start expanding again.”
Yet credit problems still haunt many would-be borrowers, creating difficult hurdles to surmount. “There are so many people who have ruined their credit that they can’t even approach a bank,” Weber said, citing such events as foreclosures or failure to repay personal loans. “There isn’t anybody who can borrow without a personal guarantee. If you mess up your credit, even though your business is doing fine, your personal guarantee behind that loan is no good.”
Sometimes, all a company needs is a small loan to tide them over, and microlenders may do the trick.
Microlender Accion provides financial education to help small business owners put together financial documentation to get a bank loan and also offers microloans itself from as little as a $500 to a maximum of $50,000, said Fabiana Estrada, Miami team leader and loan consultant for Accion.
“We are more flexible regarding credit scores, and we can lend to someone who is home-based,” Estrada said. “If you make cheesecake at home, and you need a new oven, you go to your bank, but they say you have not been doing it for two years, so they call Accion to help the client.”
Other lenders include community-based non-profit organizations, such as Partners for Self Employment, which made a microloan to Great Scott Security. In 2012, the organization disbursed $330,000 across 67 businesses, said Cornell Crews Jr., program director. Its loans range from $1,000 to $7,500. In addition to loans, the organization provides training and technical assistance.