Huntington Bank leads USA in SBA lending - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Huntington Bank leads USA in SBA lending

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By JIM ROSS
For The State Journal

Huntington Bank led the nation in the number of Small Business Administration loans in the first half of the federal government’s fiscal year.
The ranking came despite the fact Huntington Bank operates in only six states, including West Virginia.
“I think people are getting a little more optimistic about the economy and they’re willing to start businesses,” said Andy Paterno, the bank’s West Virginia president.
Huntington Bank made several SBA-backed loans in the state during the first half of the fiscal year, including a couple of partners who bought a former church lodge at Ghent and are converting it into a hotel.
Raleigh County Resort

“It was definitely a deal maker,” said Richard O’Donnell, who with his partner, Ernie Blair, bought the former Appalachian Inn near Winterplace ski resort.
“We talked to Huntington Bank. We put the proposal together — all the money we were going to need to make it a viable operation — and we got the deal done.
“Without the SBA it wasn’t going to get done because banks in general don’t want to lend on that type of endeavor.”
O’Donnell said the property occupies 42 acres across the street from Winterplace. The property had a 9,000-square foot gymnasium with office space and a conference room, a 64-bed bunkhouse, a lake and a 48-room hotel, he said. The entrance and lobby have been rebuilt. Rich & Ernie’s pub has opened, as has 4 Season restaurant.
O’Donnell said he and Blair are in the process of refurbishing the hotel rooms and adding a deck in the back so customers of the restaurant and the bar can see the lake. They also plan to build an amphitheater by the lake for live entertainment.
Some hotel rooms should be open this weekend, with the rest following in two or three weeks, O’Donnell said. The hotel, now known as Skyline Resort, will have its grand opening at the end of May, he said.
O’Donnell said the hotel is working with Winterplace on events such as mountain biking to make the area a year-round destination.
Finding Clients

Stephanie Ellingson, SBA product specialist — senior for Huntington Bank, said the bank does not have a specific marketing campaign aimed at generating SBA-backed loans.
“It really is a lot of hard work on the ground level,” she said. “We have SBA product specialists in every region.
“We are reaching out to small business.”
Specialists attend seminars and other events where they can introduces the bank’s products and services to business people, accountants, attorneys and others, Ellingson said.
Huntington Bank has been the top SBA lender in West Virginia for the past eight years, she said.
“Particularly in areas like West Virginia, we need to take advantage of these programs,” Ellingson said.
Ellingson said the SBA can guarantee loans up to $5 million. The cap was raised from $2 million as part of the stimulus package, and later the higher cap was made permanent, she said. While some people may think of SBA loans as being in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, small manufacturers need large loans to buy equipment, she said.
SBA 7(a) program

The SBA 7(a) loan program is available to small businesses for a variety of uses, including:
  • To provide long-term working capital to use to pay operational expenses, accounts payable and/or to purchase inventory;
  • Short-term working capital needs, including seasonal financing, contract performance, construction financing and exporting;
  • Revolving funds based on the value of existing inventory and receivables, under special conditions;
  • To purchase equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies or materials;
  • To purchase real estate, including land and buildings;
  • To construct a new building or renovate an existing building;
  • To establish a new business or assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business;
  • To refinance existing business debt, under certain conditions.