Published February 21, 2012
Volume 20, Number 2

Pacific City Bank Is Active in Small Business Lending   

Jodie Park staffs Pacific City Bank’s Hacienda loan office.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Against a backdrop of constrained business lending, the loan production office (LPO) of Pacific City Bank at 4695 Chabot Drive has a supporting role in the region’s economic activity. 

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Pacific City is a mid-tier community bank with assets of $550 million. It has half a dozen retail branches and a commercial loan department in southern California, and other LPOs in Texas, Virginia, and Washington state, according to Senior Vice President Jodie Park, who has led the northern California office since 2008.

For the most part, the bank’s target customers are looking to acquire an existing business—a liquor store, food mart, gas station, restaurant, or dry cleaner, for example. Now is a good time to buy, Park says. Why are owners selling? Often they are trading up to a larger business, she explains. Meanwhile, many of the buyers are individuals who have left the corporate world and have decided to take advantage of the favorable market, investing in a business they can run on their own.

“Just look around--there are small businesses everywhere,” Park comments. As the bank’s only northern  California representative, she covers a territory stretching from Healdsburg to Monterey to Merced—a vast universe of businesses valued from $100,000 up to $5 million. Recent transactions have been as varied as refinancing the debt of a winery, a restaurant, and a few small hotels, as well as the more typical gas station, liquor store, and grocery store purchases.

Despite the large number of banks with SBA or commercial real estate loan departments, Park points out that lending criteria tend to get more restrictive the bigger the size of the institution. “We look for customers who are creditworthy but might not be eligible under the guidelines of larger lenders,” Park notes. “Our credit box is more flexible.”

That flexibility is accompanied by a strong commitment to the customer once the loan has been given a green light. “As a business development officer, my job is to make sure a loan is do-able and then to get it done,” she says. “We don’t like to see a customer spend money for something like an appraisal, only to find out the loan doesn’t get final approval. Here, once we decide to go ahead, the loan gets approved and the transaction closes.”

Pacific City Bank also offers the advantage of being well versed in SBA lending requirements. “Whenever you are making government-guaranteed small business loans, you need to know all the standard operating procedures, which change regularly,” she comments. Even with 20-plus years of  experience in SBA lending, Park continues to attend local and national trade association meetings and training sessions and reads industry newsletters to stay current.

As for the future, Park is cautiously optimistic. “Money has been tight for small business, but the government is saying that banks need to lend. I think you’ll see in 2012 that banks concentrate a little more on production rather than simply maintaining their portfolios.”

For more information, visit www.paccitybank.com or call Park at (925) 558-2736. 

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