New businesses are launching in Southern California and existing companies see opportunities and ways to grow. The observation comes from Steve Sugarman, CEO of Banc of California.
"There are still impediments and difficult, tough economic times, but business owners are increasingly optimistic about the future of their companies."
During an interview, Steve told me small business owners should count banks as partners in their vision.
"Entrepreneurs should develop a banking relationship with [an institution] that fits the multiple needs of businesses. Your needs evolve over time in a business life cycle.
"We're one of the top hundred SBA lenders in country. When you start a business, a Small Business Association loan may be your most attractive option. We've also set up an equipment leading division with a $ 38,000 average loan size and yet we can provide loans of 5 million to 10 million dollars for companies that need to grow.
"Start early in the financing process and develop the banking relationship."
Steve's concern for the business environment goes beyond the balance sheet. I asked him what local and state legislators must know about running a business.
"Business owners are smart, capable, and they understand their businesses. They innovate and allowing them to do so is probably the best way to strengthen our economy.
"By trying to confine their decisions or plan for them has unintentional consequences that tend to stifle our economy."
Banc of California has three channels of business: the community bank, the commercial bank and the private bank.
The primary customers in Southern California are small business owners and their employees, entrepreneurs who benefit from flexible lending, and the family office.
I asked Steve if the bank considers ways to work with the low-income cities and neighborhoods around the greater Los Angeles region.
"A majority of small businesses in Southern California are minority owned and we've spent a lot of time over the last 6 months to try and connect and help those communities.
"We hired Mayor [Antonio] Villaraigosa to help us with that plan and help us better explore how to reach out those communities. We launched a Banc of California foundation to work within some of the most at risk communities to strengthen them.
"As we look at our depositors and borrowers who are our clients it's our belief you can't serve them unless you're also strengthening the communities where they live.
"The banks have a responsibility to neighborhoods and the responsibility needs to manifest itself with financial literacy programs, small business programs, and alternative credit scenarios."
"Our goal is to be California's bank serving our 3 customer segments, and we're serving our people where they live and work."
Click here to read lending advice for start-ups from Steve Sugarman.
Click here for Banc of California's website.