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Santa Cruz County borrowers share their success stories

November 7, 2012

Santa Cruz Sentinel excerpt

Tryg Thorensen got a construction loan from Santa Cruz County Bank for $1.25 million to expand beds from 14 to 21 at De Un Amor, a residential care facility for the elderly in Corralitos he's run for 18 years.

Manuel Rodrigues, who owns five Ace Hardware stores with his brother Carlos and employs 52 people, refinanced and consolidated loans at Santa Cruz County Bank, and hired three more employees for the Watsonville location.



Santa Cruz County Bank has been a top SBA 7a and 504 lender in Santa Cruz County for the past seven years. The 7a loans are the most used type of small business loan while 504 loans are for long-term financing for land and buildings.

Locally, SBA loans peaked in fiscal 2006, when 93 loans were extended totaling $25 million.

As the recession took hold, SBA loans dropped in fiscal 2009 to 56 loans totaling $12 million. The numbers rebounded in 2010 to 68 loans for $17 million and 59 loans for $22 million last year, then dipped again.

"Have a sound business plan with reasonable projections prepared with the help of the Small Business Development Center," advised Teresa Thomae, who oversees the Central Coast Small Business Development Center at Cabrillo College in Aptos. "The plan will identify how much you need to borrow and match the use of funds with the sales forecasted in the plan."

For a startup sole proprietor, she recommended a credit score of 720.



Thorensen wanted to expand because of the demand for elderly care, particularly people with dementia, and low interest rates,

"Santa Cruz County Bank had the best deal," he said.

"It took me eight years to get the building permit," he added.

He hopes contractor Saide Farhat will finish the job by next summer.

Thorensen has 10 employees and with seven more beds, he plans to hire two more employees and improve wages.

"The staff is the key to success in this business," he said.

"The past 4½ years have been really interesting times," said Rodrigues, who bought his first hardware store in Watsonville in 1987. "Having a local bank that you can talk with somebody, it made a huge difference," he added.

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