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Celebrating Small Business In The Long Beach Area

June 17-21 Is Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week

By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer

June 18, 2013 – It’s been said time and again – small businesses are the engine of our economy. This year’s National Small Business Week (June 17 through 21) honors America’s entrepreneurs through events, celebrations and services.

In California, more than 95 percent of jobs are with small businesses – firms that are just starting up to companies making $10 million a year. The majority of these businesses have just one employee – the owner – that presents a unique opportunity for agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and its affiliated agencies to help these firms grow to be able to hire staff.

Jesse Torres is the director of the Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, an agency of the SBA that represents centers in Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties. The lead center of this network is located on campus at Long Beach City College.

Small Business Week in Long Beach California

Arturo Flores, business banker, and Dina Noe, assistant vice
president and branch manager, are available to small business owners seeking advice
or assistance at the Wells Fargo branch on the corner of Cherry Avenue and Willow Street
in Signal Hill. All branches of Wells Fargo are celebrating small businesses in
conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week June 17 through 21.
(Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)

“At Long Beach City College, we believe that by supporting the small business community through the Los Angeles SBDC Network and our own Long Beach SBDC, we are able to create job opportunities for both our students, graduates and local community,” Torres said in an e-mail. “In 2012, our Long Beach SBDC assisted more than 1,100 businesses and helped them to create 370 jobs, increase their sales by more than $10 million and secure more than $14 million in capital. We are grateful for the tremendous support of the City of Long Beach and our many friends in the community who have helped to establish our Long Beach SBDC as a top performer for our network and their commitment to the growth and success of our local small businesses.”

Services, locations and resources are available online at www.smallbizla.org.

Small businesses are getting support from both the public sector and the private sector. The largest small business lender in the state and in the nation, Wells Fargo, has 10 branches in Long Beach and one in Signal Hill. Ben Alvarado, senior vice president and regional president of Wells Fargo Orange County, told the Business Journal that all Wells Fargo banking locations are using National Small Business Week as an opportunity to connect with business customers.

“We want to let them know that we do appreciate them and their business and what they bring to the community and the economy,” Alvarado told the Business Journal. “It’s an opportunity for us to encourage them to sit down with a Wells Fargo business banker or business specialist to take a look at their accounts and their setup, if they haven’t done that recently.”

Most of Wells Fargo’s small business customers own companies with $100,000 to $5 million in annual revenue, but the bank also works with startups that need their first business credit card. Businesses with annual revenues above $10 million for their firms are considered commercial clients. “We do really value our small business customers,” Alvarado said. “They are the engines in the economy that helps drive things. When we do say we appreciate our small businesses, we really do because we understand what they do to help the local economy thrive. We can only be as successful as the communities that we are in.”

Among the small businesses Wells Fargo is reaching out to in June are women-owned and veteran-run businesses and companies that may qualify for SBA financing. Wells Fargo is a qualified SBA lender. From October 2011 to September 2012, the financial institution approved a record $1.24 billion in SBA 7(a) loans, up from $1.2 billion from the prior year. SBA 7(a) loans are for companies that operate for profit, are small as defined by the SBA, are not delinquent on any debt obligations to the government and meet other requirements outlined online at www.sba.gov.

“We’ve been lending and we are continuing to lend,” Alvarado said. “We are there to work with you, so if you are ready to make that move and hire some more people, you are ready to purchase that equipment or that building, come talk to somebody and let’s see what we can do and how we can make it happen.”