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Small Business Banking 2010

Small business. We hear a lot of talk about small business and its importance.

In fact, on March 15 Scott Murphy, our Congressman had an Economic Action Summit in Saratoga Springs to review the state of our local economy and how we will move forward.

Murphy emphasized small business at that Summit. He included it as one of the four pillars to drive economic development in our area. The others: infrastructure, education, energy.

If you are a small businessman or woman, it was good to hear the Congressman talk about small business. But you had to wonder about your business in this economy.

Ray O'Conor, president of Saratoga National spoke about the role of your community bank and how it could be a resource for small businesses.

Ray should know. In addition to being president of Saratoga National he is also on the Board of the Independent Community Bankers of America. With about 5,000 members Ray is constantly updated about the status of community banks across America.

The status is good. Despite the reports of bank problems those problems are with the huge multi-national banks. Our community banks are smaller and have never ventured into the risky schemes that have generated newspaper headlines in the past two years.

Our community banks are sound. As a prudent banker Ray says you do want to make loans. Your rate for your best commercial loans gather thirteen times the return as from purchasing federal notes.

Today as in the past his bank wants to meet and talk with people who are planning to start or to expand their businesses.

Ray likes to use the example of Dr Jamie Green whose family dental practice is on Maple Avenue in Wilton to illustrate how Saratoga National works with the small business or professional firm.

Jamie, a native of Wilton, had been working in a Long Island dental practice. He wanted to come home.

His mother, Carol, who had been a Wilton Town Board member and then Wilton Comptroller, had dealt with Ray and Saratoga National.

Dick, Jamie's father and a barber, had cut Ray's hair.

In smaller communities personal referrals are still important. But as Jamie will tell you, that is just the introduction.

We had discussions of my plans. The bank looked at my projected revenue, at my anticipated expenses. They asked about handling the

repayment schedule.

And yes, they checked my tax returns. They knew more about my financial condition than I did.

Jamie says that was very reassuring. If the Bank agreed with his projections, that meant he was on target. Especially, he said when he first opened and had one skimpy drawer of dental records.

Jamie said that as his dental practice increased and he had need for funds for new equipment (electronic imaging is great but it costs) and a new car he has received financing from the bank.

He also says each time he has had to supply financial records and tax returns and he is delighted. He is reassured his bank is conservative in their lending and how they handle his deposits.

Ray says Jamie's dental practice is a good example of how the Bank works with businesses and professional firms and he says you do not need personal contacts to do business with Saratoga Nationa;.

Just as with Jamie you talk with our financing experts at the bank. You supply plans and anticipate revenue. We discuss possible pitfalls, we ask for you tax returns. This an objective review and most potential clients find it a very helpful exercise.

Tim and Heidi Sanders, owners of Sanders Meat Market would certainly agree. But they would add, talk to a good banker first.

Tim and Heidi's banker is Rich Ferguson of Saratoga National. Rich met the Sanders for the first time last fall. The first of many meetings.

The Sanders had decided to start a business in Milton. Checking communities up and down the East Coast they liked Milton, Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs and they liked the opportunity a vacant storefront on Route 50 2100 Doubleday Avenue (Ballston Avenue from Saratoga changes its name at Northline Road) presented.

Tim and Heidi are second generation food processors. Tim father's was a butcher (his picture is hanging in the Market) and Heidi's mother a scratch baker. They both continued in their parent's trades mostly in New Hampshire.

They retired last year. What to do now. When you're young in spirit (I asked Heidi how she was handling school vacation week. Surprise, her son, Eric, works in the Market), you look for new challenges.

Having decided Milton was the type of community they wanted to live and develop a business in, Tim and Heidi got to work.

Initially, Tim talked with SCORE (Senior Corps of Retired Executives) for advice. Those talks mostly with Bill Edwards helped Tim and Heidi develop their initial business plan with projections for growth.

SCORE said you needed a banker. And Tim and Heidi began to review their options. They quickly learned the big national banking chains didn't even want to talk to small start-up business until they had a three year track record.

That left community banks and as Ray O'Conor, president of Saratoga National says. We're in business to make loans. We make 13 times as much on our lowest interest commercial loan as we do on federal notes.

When Tim and Heidi saw Rich last fall it was good chemistry. Rich liked what he saw and heard. Rich said that it was vital for a small business to succeed that the owners have thorough knowledge of the field. And Tim and Heidi were second generation in the business.

Rich was impressed by Tim and Heidi's analysis of the traffic and business potential of the location.

As a banker Rich liked what he saw. And now the process of helping Tim and Heidi realize their dream began. One of Rich's first suggestions to the Sanders was the advisability of SBA (Small Business Administration) financing.

As a banker, Rich knows start-up businesses have a 50/50 chance of lasting 5 years. And bankers do not like those odds. SBA guarantees most of the loan which reduces the bank's risk. That made sense to the Sanders and with Rich's help SBA was asked to approve the guarantee for Saratoga National's loan.

Great application (Of course, solid with projections, analysis, tax returns, financial data) and it was signed sealed and returned by the SBA in 72 hours. Who says our government can't move fast.

Sanders Meat Market is up and running at 2100 Doubleday Avenue on Route 50 on the way to Ballston Spa. If you stop in you will find Tim and Heidi there behind the counter. and if you have any questions of meat, Tim is the man to ask.

You'll always find a selection of prime cuts and you'll even find hamburger meat for $1.89 per pound (This price may vary).

Heidi manages the deli counter with subs to go and fresh roast beef.

Tim even has ox-tails (they make great soup) and he says he can get whole hogs for a volunteer fire company roasts this summer.

Give Tim or Heidi a call at 288-3405.