NextGen Interview with
President & CEO
Evergreen Business Capital
April 15, 2014
1. What originally inspired you to get involved with economic development?|
I was inspired to join Evergreen Business Capital in its mission of economic development out of a desire to make a positive impact on small businesses in our community. I came from the banking industry so I knew there was a need, especially in rural areas.
I have found the 504 program to have a double economic effect. It not only creates jobs and stimulates the economy, but because we are a not-for-profit we can reinvest in the community through our foundation and grants. It is meaningful work.
2. What is the most important part of your work?
People – it is all about working with and supporting people; From the lenders and partners, business owners, and community organizations we work with every day to the team of people at Evergreen who make it happen. For me I feel a huge responsibility to ensure we help people as a company. I value and appreciate my staff whose work individually and as a TEAM makes a difference. They count on me to lead Evergreen through constant change – and to ensure we continue to evolve and grow as a company so we can continue to make a difference to the communities we serve. We need to adapt to what comes our way and seize opportunities when we can. It can feel like we are swimming upstream towards our goals, but we take ownership of the results and we do it as team.
3. How can CDC executive leadership support their NextGen and vice versa?
This is essentially long term succession planning. It is so important and it really does go both ways. Executive leadership can provide history, perspective, standards and share established relationships. We can tell the story of where we have been and how we got here.
The NextGen is vital to understanding and preparing for the future. Technology and demographics are changing. We don’t know what we don’t know. But together, through mentorship and group interactions - both formal and informal - we make our CDCs and industry more effective.
I absolutely believe NextGen is a state of mind and not a matter of age. It is a way of thinking, looking at how we make our industry relevant and most importantly how we remain relevant into the future.
4. How do you hope to see the industry progress in the future?
I hope for both more quality and quantity in 504 lending. We can help more businesses in the areas we already serve. We can reach more areas of the country. As long as there are businesses who have never heard of the 504 financing there is room for progress.
There is so much that is right about the 504 program. It is has been time-tested for over 30 years. But we can make the program better, more streamlined and more consistent. When we all play by the same rules we can compete and all of our communities win.
5. What items would you include if you were asked to select the top three priorities for NADCO NextGen?
- Mentoring and coaching the next level of leadership in the CDC industry and NADCO
- Understanding and adopting, when appropriate, new technology and skills
- Sharing fresh perspectives, ideas and enthusiasm
NextGen Interview with
Vice President | Loan Officer
Mountain West Small Business Finance (MWSBF)
March 21, 2014
1. What experiences best prepared you to be a leader in the CDC community?|
While, I wouldn’t consider myself a leader in the CDC community, (I’ve only been with Mountain West Small Business Finance – MWSBF four years) I think my time focused on 504 loans as a banker best prepared me to be a part of the CDC community. I joined Zions Bank in their National Real Estate Group straight out of college. This group specialized in the secondary market for 504 loans nationwide and has a portfolio in the range of $5 billion. My time spent there gave me the opportunity to work with CDCs in every state. From that experience, I’ve been able to take best practices from across the country and use them at Mountain West.
2. What appeals to you about economic development and the work CDCs do?
The economic development side of our profession is the best part of what we do. It is nice to view a project for its potential community impact rather than just strictly repayment ability or collateral analysis. Don’t get me wrong, credit is very important and we serve no one by putting a borrower in a position that they will fail. But seeing the end game of helping a borrower realize their dream that puts new jobs, growth and opportunity in a community is a reward in of itself.
3. What observations have you made about NextGen in the 504 industry?
I think NextGen in the 504 industry is experiencing a lot of the same challenges and opportunities that most of the business world – and especially the financial industry – is experiencing. There is the leadership of those who have spent their careers in the industry and know the ins-and-outs of the program. They’ve established a name and so many of them have helped pave the way for the program by creating a strong foundation. On the flip side, there’s also new blood within the industry. The future leaders of 504 – we’re a generation that sees the world as accessible and full of opportunity. For the most part, we see technology not as the answer to everything, but as just one more tool for outreach and possibility. I think one of the most important things we can do as supporters of REAL 504 is to understand that we need both sides. We need the so-called “tribal knowledge” of those who have laid this foundation, and we need to embrace new ideas and new technology to take 504 to the masses and get more projects funded.
4. How can individuals at executive levels in CDCs support their NextGen?
I think this goes back to this partnership of old and new. I’m thankful to be working at a company that supports NextGen. Our executive leadership supports our NextGen associates by encouraging us to attend NADCO annual meetings and GR conferences. They take the time to involve NextGen in management and decision making processes. They’re open to alternative marketing and technology options. They understand the paradigm is shifting.
But like I said, it’s a two way street. Mountain West’s NextGen is given this latitude because we rely on their expertise. We respect what they’ve done; and both sides see the value in the partnership of seniority and new blood.
5. If you had an entry-level employee in your CDC, what advice would you give her about utilizing her generation’s unique tools and abilities?
There are a few things I’d mention. First be respectful and patient with yourself. There’s learning curve, and we’re all still part of it. Second, technology is not the answer or the end game; it’s just a tool. And third, remember that it’s about people and not programs.
6. How do you hope to see the industry progress in coming generations?
Well, from a practical standpoint: I would really like to see the refinance come back as a permanent option for our borrowers. And I really hope it doesn’t take a generation for that to happen.
I think debt refinancing will become a reality when we brand REAL 504 until it becomes a household name. We need our leadership in Washington fighting for the program, because they know it’s the right thing for small business and job creation. That would be progress.
NextGen Interview with
Senior Vice President | Senior Loan Office
New Jersey Business Finance Corporation
February 6, 2014
|How did you get involved in REAL 504 lending?|
I have spent my entire career in the banking industry but it wasn’t until I started working for Bank of America in 2004 that my primary focus became 504 lending. At times I covered an area spanning as far south as Virginia and as far north as New England – including New Jersey. I worked with 14 different CDCs during my time at Bank of America. This experience generated a unique perspective and interest in working on the CDC-end of a 504 loan.
What do you like most about your work?
I appreciate the fact that no two days are exactly the same. I’m the type of person that is happier in a dynamic role rather than in a daily routine. I enjoy the flexibility of being out on the road and meeting with business owners and bankers alike. Each project is a bit unique and my position has provided me with an opportunity to learn about many different types of industries. Another benefit is the fact that the industry is small enough that you get to know and stay in touch with many of your former colleagues – I’ve had some relationships extend for more than 20 years.
Why is it important for our industry to develop our NextGen?
Every business model has to adapt in order to grow and the 504 industry is no different. The way that our program is positioned and marketed has evolved over the last twenty years. Many of our NextGen members did not join CDCs from the banking industry, as has traditionally been the case, but rather joined from not for profit agencies and finance companies. Most have networked and marketed effectively by making use of the new media tools (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). These are the tools that our customers are using in order to obtain information when selecting a product that fits their needs. Our NextGen members have the ability to think outside the box using modern day marketing and sales tactics. By using these tools and working to create strategic partnerships with NextGen groups in other industries our NextGen members are moving the industry forward.
What can NextGen offer CDCs and organizations as team members?
As I mentioned earlier, many NextGen members come from different fields. This gives veterans to the 504 industry a fresh prospective on getting the message out to potential customers. This includes helping CDCs market the program more effectively and using "new media” tools. They can even leverage past experiences and identify new relationship opportunities.
What is your message to NextGen and why should they participate in our Government Relations Conference and Marketing Contest?
I have been extremely impressed with the level of knowledge, professionalism and energy that these individuals bring to the table. I welcome their participation in our events and would challenge them to continue effecting the positive change they believe our industry needs. This would include speaking with our elected officials about the important work that each of us does in helping build our small business communities. The energy that they would bring to such a discussion would be of great benefit. It would also allow the NextGen group to better understand the political landscape that impacts our industry and help them identify and plan for future challenges. The marketing contest is a fun way to help promote the program and help us learn how to make better use of the tools that we have.