Small business lending on the rise

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Small business lending in Mesa County is on the rise. According to the Small Business Administration, $6.9 million dollars of SBA-backed loans were distributed to businesses in Mesa County during the 2012 Fiscal Year, up from $5.8 million in 2011.

Loan Officer Pat Berry, with Small Business Finance, said the increase is an indication of positive economic recovery.

"I think businesses are more ready to borrow money," Berry said. "They feel like they've made it through the worst part of the recession and they're starting to see some real positive things out there."

Chris Brown, owner of Brown Cycles in Grand Junction, is among those business owners taking advantage of SBA loan opportunities. Brown used SBA loans to finance the expansion of his downtown shop into the store next door.

Brown said he went to a traditional bank first, where he faced a $20,000 down payment. He opted for the second option-- an SBA loan.

"This is my retirement fund building day by day," Brown said. "We'll wake up in another five or ten years and be glad we did it."

Berry credits the 2012 JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startup) Act with much up the SBA loan pickup.

"The JOBS Act really was a boost for us," Berry said. "It created a lot of jobs and put a lot of money out there that wasn't available through most of the banks."

Jon Maraschin, executive director of the Grand Junction Business Incubator, said SBA loans are helping local entrepreneurs and business owners build and expand business.

"We're seeing people in town that are actually thinking that now's a good time to start a business," Maraschin said. "There's opportunity out there. It's slow but we're seeing people starting to grow and do businesses."

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