1. Bank of America

Key Executive: Rick Benito, senior vice president

Started SBA Lending: Early 1970s
2006 SBA Loans: 1,168
Average Loan Size: $33,000
Minimum Loan Size: $5,000
Loan Types: 504 real estate, 7(a), Community Express

Niche: "Bank of America is the largest lender nationally and in the L.A. District. We are also the largest SBA lender to minorities in the country. We continue to look for ways to help the Los Angeles community by providing access to capital regardless of the size of the loan."

Competition: "We try to provide other banking services that small businesses use. We have a program called Business 24/7 that is designed to help small-business owners by providing a business checking account. It also has a direct deposit payroll service. The bank has other small-business services such as health insurance and credit services. Sales for business credit cards are up in the Los Angeles region more than 200 percent and business credit is up more than 400 percent. We constantly look for ways to meet the needs of the business community."

2. Center Bank

Key Executive: Jason Kim, senior vice president

Started SBA Lending: 1986
2006 SBA Loans: 79
Average Loan Size: $343,000
Minimum Loan Size: $25,000
Loan Types: 7(a), 504 real estate, Community Express

Niche: "We are a Korean-American bank. Many of our loan recipients are Asians. We try to market to everybody. We have had some Hispanics and Caucasians, but the profile of most clients is Asian. We expand to places where we see a need in the Korean business community. In Southern California, we had very much success. Eight years ago, we only had six branches. Now we have 18 full branches. Our first out-of-state branch was in Chicago. We understood there was a niche market among Korean American business owners there. Then we went to Seattle, Washington. Now we are in Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Atlanta and Virginia."

Competition: "We have branch offices to stay competitive in a wide geographic area. We have business development offices that focus primarily on how to grow."

3. CDC Small Business Finance

Key Executive: Mike Owen, executive vice president

Started SBA Lending: Opened Los Angeles offices two years ago.
2006 SBA Loans: 222
Average Loan Size: $750,000
Minimum Loan Size: $125,000
Loan Types: 504 real estate is primary product. 7(a) loans packaged under affiliate programs.

Niche: "The 504 loan is a real estate lending program. We focus on businesses that are moving from a leased facility to ownership through natural growth of their company. This product allows newer companies, who may not have an established track record, to secure funds. We extend capital to small businesses that might not receive the same type of credit terms on a traditional loan."

Competition: "The challenge in Los Angeles is to understand the lending environment and the potential uniqueness of properties in the L.A. areas. The SBA opened up territories for community development corporations two years ago, which allowed us to expand into Los Angeles. We were a non-existent entity three years ago locally.."

4. Hanmi Bank

Key Executive: James Kim, first vice president

Started SBA Lending: 1993 SBA Staff: 35 people, including marketing field offices
2006 SBA Loans: 82
Average Loan Size: $387,000
Minimum Loan Size: $100,000
Loan Types: 7(a), 504 real estate, Community Express

Niche: "We stay in tune with the SBA philosophy of trying to provide loans for small businesses in our community and our extended community. We provide the SBA loans to people who may not qualify for a conventional loan. Most of our loans are used for purchase transactions. This means that clients use the loan to make a business transaction between two parties such as a real estate transaction. We also assist with startup companies and growing companies."

Competition: "Competition has increased as banks become more involved in SBA lending and customers become more knowledgeable of the SBA program. To stay competitive, we try to give quick answers, better guidance and make sure that our rates stay competitive."

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