SBA loans in Santa Cruz County total $29 millionNovember 29, 2013
By Jondi Gumz - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Small business lending rebounded this year to $29 million in Santa Cruz County, nearly double the $15 million the year before and surpassing the 2006 pre-recession peak of $25 million.
Loan volume remained about the same as last year but this year's loans were larger.
The U.S. Small Business Administration reported 50 loans in Santa Cruz County for working capital or expansion during fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 30, compared to 49 the year before.
The top lender was Santa Cruz County Bank, which extended 16 loans totaling $7.6 million.
Wells Fargo ranked second, with 10 loans totaling $5.8 million.
Santa Cruz Community Credit Union was third in volume, with five loans totaling $1.2 million.
Statewide, Wells Fargo was the top SBA lender with 852 loans totaling $439.8 million. Santa Cruz County Bank, which makes loans outside Santa Cruz County, ranked 37th out of 239 lenders in the state with 36 loans totaling $24.6 million, a figure that includes loans to buy equipment or buildings.
SBA loans are helping three longtime Santa Cruz businesses expand beyond Santa Cruz County.
Synergy Organic Clothing plans to start a retail catalog for spring and add a plus size line for summer, according to chief executive officer Henry Schwab, whose wife, Kate Fisher, is the founder.
From a humble start, selling clothing from her travels in Asia 20 years ago, the business employs 40 people with sales at 600 stores and makes appearances at 150 festivals across the U.S.
Synergy turned to the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union for two SBA loans, one to ready fashions for fall 2014 and the other to hire more staff, open a store in San Francisco -- a new demographic for the brand -- and increase online sales.
The catalog will be designed by Matt Farrar of Ignition Designs, printed by Community Printers with local yoga teacher Hannah Muse as a model.
"We try to sell the Santa Cruz lifestyle," Schwab said. "Our future is in e-commerce."
Erik's DeliCafe got an SBA loan from Wells Fargo to acquire locations in Santa Cruz and Aptos from franchisees and is in escrow for the Los Gatos store. The move will mean increasing staffing by 20 percent at those locations.
"We're pretty confident of the economy," said Erik's COO Tony Bandana.
Erik's, which started in Scotts Valley 40 years ago, has expanded from 25 locations in 2008 to 32 in six counties this year.
Two more will open in 2014, one at the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, "double the space we usually have," Bandana said. The other will be in Saratoga.
"We're seeing 1-3 percent growth," he said. "I think that's the way to go."
Pacific Cookie Co. got an SBA loan from Santa Cruz County Bank to open a retail bakery on busy Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.
"We're an impulse sale," said Larry Pearson, co-founder of Pacific Cookie with his wife Shelly. "We depend on excellent foot traffic."
The expansion will create jobs for 16 people. Construction started in October, with the opening expected in January.
Eric and Ellen Gil, who own Sockshop and Shoe Co., encouraged the Pearsons to open on Haight Street in San Francisco, where they have a store. The hunt for a space led to Berkeley.
"It's interesting how well received Santa Cruz is as you go around," Pearson said.
BY the numbers
These statistics are for Santa Cruz County in fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 30.
Lender Number of loans Loan total
Santa Cruz County Bank 16 $7,634,400
Wells Fargo Bank 10 $5,784,400
Focus Business Bank 2 $5,500,000
Comerica Bank 1 $3,511,200
Santa Cruz Community Credit Union 5 $1,199,100
Live Oak Banking Co. 1 $965,000
Monterey County Bank 4 $890,000
Exchange Bank 1 $800,000
Plumas Bank 2 $684,000
Celtic Bank Corp. 1 $570,000
U.S. Bank 2 $370,000
Bank of San Francisco 1 $323,000
Spirit of Texas Bank 1 $320,000
Lighthouse Bank 2 $299,700
JPMorgan Chase 1 $70,700
Total 50 $28,921,500
SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration