Arvest, Legacy National rank as top SBA lenders in Arkansas

by Paul Gatling ( 544 views 

Fayetteville-chartered Arvest Bank ranked as the top provider of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) loans in Arkansas during the federal fiscal year 2017.

Arvest Bank, with 117 branches throughout the state, approved 63 SBA 7(a) loans in Arkansas from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017, totaling $20.68 million. That accounts for 18.7% of the SBA-backed 7(a) loans in Arkansas, with an average loan size of $328,336.

The SBA’s flagship loan program, known as 7(a), is a general small business loan for start-up or existing companies. It provides small businesses with guaranteed loans covering the vast majority of small business needs including working capital, fixed and intangible asset financing, as well as refinance and export support through term and revolving loans.

“We are happy to have a good track record helping small businesses achieve their dreams, and we look forward to continued growth,” said Graydon Rochelle, business banking manager for Arvest Bank in Bentonville. “Most importantly, we appreciate how much our customers trust us to help them make these transactions. Participating with the SBA is critical to many of our customers, and it’s important to Arvest as well.”

Springdale-based Legacy National Bank, with just five branches in Arkansas, was the second-biggest lender in terms of SBA 7(a) loans in fiscal 2017. The bank backed 39 loans totaling $10.07 million.

In Benton County, 69 SBA-guaranteed loans — the most of any county in Arkansas — amounting to just under $33 million were given to business owners in the 2017 fiscal year. The loans supported more than 860 jobs throughout the county in industries such as catering, landscaping, restaurants, retail and manufacturing.

Legacy National Bank was the most popular lender for SBA 7(a) loans in the two-county area, backing 19 loans in Benton County and 18 in Washington County.

“As evidenced by the 2017 SBA loan summary report, Legacy National Bank is continuing its commitment to the SBA loan program because we consider it to be a valuable and viable option to fund the entrepreneurial spirit and small business growth of Northwest Arkansas,” said Derek Gibson, the bank’s executive vice president for commercial lending. “We were No. 1 for Washington County last year, and are very excited to be No. 1 in Benton County for this past year for SBA lending as well.

“As Legacy opens it new location in Bentonville in 2018, we plan to continue that SBA loan growth there in partnership with its vibrant community.”

Statewide, the SBA approved 337 loans in the 7(a) loan program, providing $191.53 million to small businesses in the 2017 fiscal year. That’s down from 363 loans and $221.50 million in fiscal 2016.

In the U.S., the SBA approved 62,430 7(a) loans, providing more than $25.44 billion in support.