SBA, Alpine Chamber business seminar draws crowd
By Jo Moreland
Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
For The Alpine Sun
Julia Velasco of Campo is closer to starting her own business, thanks to a Small Business Administration seminar on Jan. 18 in Alpine!
The SBA partnered with the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce to present the free event at the Alpine Public Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd.
Velasco was one of about 60 people who packed the Community Room to learn how to start a business and keep it going or help it expand. The seminar included a Lenders Fair with one-on-one expertise from financial experts.
“I’m looking at starting a coffee shop with a play area for kids in Alpine,” Velasco said. “This was very helpful, very informative.”
Ruben Garcia, SBA district director for San Diego and Imperial counties, and Alpine Chamber President/CEO Mary Rynearson welcomed everyone.
“Today we’re going to show you some ideas for growing your businesses,” Garcia said. “SBA has many resources. We are a federal agency. We also provide disaster assistance.”
During the last fiscal year, he said, the SBA ---- which provides free services ---- nationally made 70,000 loans with a $29.5 billion value to stimulate and expand businesses. Garcia said the local SBA office made 936 guaranteed loans totaling more than $410 million.
“We guarantee the loans because local lenders do the loans with the backing of the SBA,” he said later. “And there is a great deal of benefit from getting free business counseling from SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) and the Small Business Development Centers, and doing business with institutions that have partnered with SBA.”
Rynearson pointed out that creating a strong economy is part of the Alpine Chamber’s mission.
“I think having the SBA in Alpine is one great way to provide networking opportunities and build business relationships,” she told the crowd.
Lenders included California Bank & Trust, Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, Home Bank of California, Sun West Bank, Community Development Corporation (CDC) Small Business Finance, Primary Funding and Accion.
Their representatives joined forces with SCORE; area North and South Small Business Development Centers; Veterans Business Outreach Center; the California Board of Equalization; the Alpine and East County Chambers of Commerce; SBA Government Contracts; Rosie’s Network and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center to share current information to help businesses and organizations.
“We do alternative financing,” said Esther Carrillo, CDC Small Business Finance loan officer. “We can help a startup business get going if their credit isn’t good . . .We can provide up to $50,000 in loans for women, minorities and disabled veterans. Anybody else can get up to $250,000.”
Event sponsors Barons Market, Starbucks, Janet’s Montana Café and Albertsons provided a free continental breakfast and affordable lunches for everyone.
Yolanda Holcomb of Primary Funding said the turnout for the seminar “was amazing.”
“People had a lot of questions, went to the different lenders,” Holcomb said. “It was better attended than expected, and I think that’s because the Chamber did a good job of getting the word out.”