SBA Loans: Frequently Asked Questions

Merchants Bank Small Business Loans, Commerical Lenders

Are you thinking about starting a small business? Have you heard about the Small Business Administration and the loan programs it offers? You might be wondering if an SBA loan is right for you or simply how SBA loans work. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about SBA loans

1. What is an SBA loan?

While the Small Business administration oversees a number of loan programs, the SBA does not lend money itself. When you apply for an SBA loan, you’ll work with a local bank to receive financing for your project and a portion of the loan is guaranteed by the SBA.

SBA Loan programs include:

  • 7(a) Loan Program – The most common general small business loan offered by the SBA.
  • Microloan Program – Small, short-term small business loans.
  • Real Estate & Equipment Loans or CDC/504 Loan Program – Loans for real estate and equipment.
  • Disaster Loans – Low interest loans to repair or replace items damaged in a disaster.

Learn more about these SBA loan programs and eligibility on the SBA website.

2. Should I apply for an SBA loan or traditional bank loan?

Which loan is right for your business depends on a number of factors. First, you’ll want to know which SBA loan programs you may or may not qualify for. In addition, you’ll want to compare the SBA loan programs versus a traditional commercial loan. While an SBA loan might not be a fit for every business, it may provide certain benefits over traditional loans, in certain situations, including:

  • Longer terms
  • Lower down payments
  • Increased cash flow
  • Flexible repayment options

As an SBA Preferred Lender, Merchants Bank has experience helping businesses choose between SBA and traditional commercial loans. Your local Merchants Bank Commercial Banker can guide you through our options to find the right loan program for you.

Use SBA’s Online Loans and Grants Search Tool to begin research which government financial programs may help your business.

3. What information do I need to complete my loan application?

Educating yourself on the SBA loan processing and knowing what information you need for the application can save you a lot of time. Use these resources to prepare yourself when applying for an SBA loan:

For more information on SBA loans, talk to a Commercial Banker at your local Merchants Bank. We’re proud to be an SBA Preferred Lender.

Subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender.

ContactUsButton

Meet Kerri Bronk, Senior Operations/eChannel Officer at Merchants

Kerri speaking in Spring Grove about fraud

Kerri speaking in Spring Grove about fraud.

When did you start your career in banking?

Kerri: In November of 1996, I started as a teller at the Merchants Bank location in Goodview. A few years later, I moved to the Operations Department and I’ve been here ever since.

What’s one thing someone can do right now to protect their personal information?

Kerri: Think about where you are storing your personal information. For example, do you know where your birth certificate is or your Social Security card? You should keep paper items somewhere safe and accessible, like a safe deposit box – not in your purse or wallet.

Are there any websites where you’ve used the “save password” option? If so, this could make it easier for fraudsters to figure out your password for other sites. If there are websites you don’t use any more, go out and delete personal information that is saved or stored with that website.

What’s your biggest tip for preventing fraud?

Kerri: Know who you are providing your information to and question if sharing personal information is necessary in every circumstance. For example, a form at a business might ask for your Social Security Number. Is it necessary for you to give them the information or is it on file? Ask. Many times a Social Security Number isn’t required – it is just habit to have on the form for the business.

It’s always important to question if a situation seems too good to be true. If people listened to their gut more often, many of them wouldn’t be facing fraud issues on their account. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Kerri: When I was a little kid, I sold produce. I would ask my dad if I should sell something for two “bucks” and he would always tell me that money was not called “bucks” they’re “dollars.” He would say “bucks are deer, not dollars.”

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Kerri: I would set up a foundation so that I could continue to do good after I’m gone.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Kerri: Flowers and produce. I grew up in the garden.

Has being the Security Officer at Merchants affected your life outside of work?

Kerri: My friends tease me all the time about being the “Security Officer.” I’m always thinking about the risks of a possible situation. I am always aware of my surroundings – making sure people see me when I walk outside, being aware of emergency exits in a building, using caution when giving out my personal information and posting on social media. I also think about how I respond to emails…if I don’t know the sender should I delete the email or risk getting a virus or being scammed? I think it is important to be in aware of and in control of your situation.

Traci Stier Promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier has been promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank, according to Kerri Bronk, Vice President and Senior Operations Officer.

“Traci has shown leadership, especially in our most recent bank conversions following acquisitions,” Bronk said. “Traci and her team work with many departments in the Bank and have a daily impact on helping our customers because of the number of checks that process through their area.”

Stier manages all the aspects of Merchants Bank’s ability to accept checks and remote deposit capture files, including setup, testing and the coordination of all the pieces that allow Merchants Bank to accept payments. Stier has been with the Merchants organization for the past 15 years and noted that changes in technology, especially over the past few years, provide for faster responses for customers in processing their items.

“I enjoy and welcome the opportunities I have to assist any customers – both internal and external, to build relationships with people and earn their trust because they know I will take care of their needs,” Stier said.

Waikiki Meatballs

BlogRecipeEmployeeFav-WaikikiMeatballsIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2/3 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. shortening
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 13.5 ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup green peppers, chopped

 

Directions:

Mix beef, crumbs, onion, egg, salt, ginger and milk thoroughly. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into balls. Melt shortening in large skillet. Brown and cook meatballs. Remove meatballs. Keep them warm. Pour fat from skillet. Mix cornstarch and sugar. Stir in reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour into skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Stir while boiling for one minute. Add meatballs, pineapple tidbits and green peppers. Heat through.

 

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Tip #5: How to Take Action When You Suspect Fraud

SAWFriday

If you suspect fraud on any of your Merchants Bank accounts, please contact us as soon as possible. You can:

According to the terms and conditions of your account, federal regulations require that if your statement contains electronic transactions you did not authorize, you must notify us within 60 days after the statement was mailed to you, or within 14 days for draft/check by phone, or check disputes.

Here are the steps we will take together when you identify an unauthorized transaction. We will:

  1. Determine if a transaction is truly fraudulent, a recording or processing error, or a simple miscommunication with the business or store.
  2. Assist you with calling the business to try to identify the charges subtracted from your account.
  3. Help you initiate a dispute by completing a Dispute Form. You will need to come to the bank to complete this paperwork.
  4. Contact you, as needed, for additional information during the dispute process.
  5. Notify you via mail with the results of your dispute.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank shared a fraud prevention tip each day. Click here to view previous tips from this week:

Meet Rodney Nelsestuen, Chief Information Officer at Merchants

Rodney with his cat, Tinkerbelle

Rodney with his cat, Tinkerbelle

When did you start your banking career?

I’ve been in the financial services industry for over 30 years. I began as a commercial lender, actually, and did that for seven or eight years. Then, I went into the management as a Chief Credit Officer and eventually became a CEO of a financial institution in Michigan. We did a lot of commercial and ag lending to small and large businesses alike.

My first job as Chief Information Officer was at AgriBank, where I stayed for six years. Then, I worked for CEB TowerGroup, which is a financial services advisory firm. I did a lot of research, wrote reports, published articles and spoke at conferences and other speaking engagements around the world. But I missed “being in the ring,” as I call it. I missed the opportunity to actually practice what I was advising.

From my time at CEB TowerGroup, I learned that I wanted to work at a bank where personal contact is still important. At Merchants, I’ve found this strong culture of personal service and yet a bank that wants to offer digital products that are right at what the industry and its customers need.

Describe one of the biggest changes in technology you’ve witnessed in your career.

There is a dichotomy that’s evolved where the traditional approach of face-to-face service is not going away, but the digital approach and expectations of customers are growing rapidly. It’s more than generational. I see it happening as new digital ideas evolve. The time from developing a digital product to the time it becomes important to the business and the consumer is very short. And that time frame is only getting shorter.

How should customers approach protecting their personal information?

People have to think “I am responsible for my information.” They have to ask themselves…how much do I want to share and with whom? The social network is great, but it opens up a whole new field for fraudsters, so people need to take care with how much they share online. As a customer, I do have to share confidential and private information with the bank if I want a loan.. But, I also expect the bank to protect that information and to stay up to date with security practices. Both sides need to take responsibility.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

You know those ads on TV right now about people cutting their cell phone bill in half? They say “money doesn’t spend itself.” Well, I say “money doesn’t make itself.” Quite simply, they taught me that you don’t spend what you don’t have, and when you borrow, you need to do so knowing how you’re going to pay the loan back. Take charge of your finances, that’s kind of the first step…especially for young people.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

I’d pursue my dream of writing the great American novel. I write short stories and fiction. I actually had a book accepted for publication at one time, but it was a small publisher and went out of business before it was published.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

The first thing my wife purchased after we got married (a long time ago) was a pair of green velvet chairs. We still have them today. They’re not going anywhere.

Have you ever googled yourself? What did you find?

Yes, I have. Actually, there was another Rodney Nilsestuen – from Arcadia and I knew him growing up. I’m originally from Galesville and we both showed cattle in 4-H at the Trempealeau County Fair. He spelled the last name with one letter different and of course that meant we’d debate who got the spelling right. I’m pretty sure I’m right…

Tip #4: How to Know if Merchants Bank is Really Calling

SAWThursday

Merchants Bank will never initiate a phone call or email asking you to verify your Social Security number or account number. If you are asked for this information from another company, please proceed with caution.

Merchants Bank may, however, contact you in the following situations:

  • If mail is returned for incorrect address and we do not have record of receiving an address change request from you.
  • If you are in the process of opening an account with us and we need additional information.
  • If you have submitted an Online Bill Payment and there is a question on the address or company information.
  • If you are enrolled for Online or Mobile Banking and have not used them for a period of time, or your Online Banking account is locked.
  • If you are a business and submit an ACH file; we will verify this with you.
  • If your debit card is captured in an ATM.
  • If your debit card or PIN mailer is returned to the Bank.
  • If fraud is suspected on your Merchants Bank debit or credit card.

In these, or similar, situations, we may contact you. If you do not know the bank employee calling you, we encourage you to write down the information being requested and call the person back by dialing your local Merchants Bank office at a number you have verified on your own through a public source, such as a phone book, or call a bank employee you do know personally.

For additional protection, you may set up a privacy code with the Bank. A privacy code is a 4-5 character combination of letters and/or numbers that the Bank will use to identify you over the phone. To set up a privacy code, visit your local Merchant Bank or contact your Customer Service Representative.

Friendly reminder: In order for any communication between you and the Bank to occur, we need to have your up-to-date contact information. Please contact us if you’ve moved or made any changes to your personal contact information, such as discontinuing a landline phone or changing your cell phone number. You may also update your contact information by logging in to Online Banking and clicking on Other Services.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.