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Community Banking for Community-Focused Businesses

By Kevin Gilligan, SBA Lending Director at The Bank of Tampa

Thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Small Business Administration (SBA) has become a household name—at least within the business community. In actuality, the SBA offers business owners so much more than the PPP. Since its inception, the SBA’s primary mission has been to provide small businesses access to capital primarily through SBA loans, in addition to advocating for small businesses and offering entrepreneurial development.

If you are unable to obtain conventional financing or you are seeking more aggressive terms than what is available through traditional bank financing, the SBA can be a valuable resource. It offers favorable rates and terms for borrowers seeking business financing. The SBA itself doesn’t lend money directly to small business owners—it partners with lenders across the United States to get small business owners funding. The government guarantees a portion of those loans to encourage banks to make loans that wouldn’t qualify under conventional guidelines. In short, the program incentivizes lenders to offer the small business owner affordable loans at lower risk to the lender, thus solving a credit availability problem with the SBA partial guarantee.

Community-focused lenders—like The Bank of Tampa—offer SBA loans to ensure that small businesses within the communities we operate in grow and thrive. We know that when small businesses thrive, it benefits our community as a whole—in short, their success is our success. Our key leadership is based right here, within the Tampa Bay area, we can make lending decisions that support your business as we have intimate knowledge of our local economies.

What makes our SBA lending program unique is that while we do have to incorporate our own credit standards and underwriting guidelines, we follow the SBA’s policy for what the program was intended to do for small businesses—to assist small businesses that were not quite qualified for a conventional loan but demonstrate the ability to meet the required credit standards. Banks get a guarantee and borrowers are able to qualify for a loan, which trickles down to hiring local talent and overall growth within our community.

While the SBA loan program has its advantages, navigating the application process can be lengthy and complicated. When the time comes to apply for a loan, you want it to be by the quickest and most efficient means possible. Choosing an SBA Preferred Lending Partner (PLP), like The Bank of Tampa, can reduce processing times by eliminating the need to submit the file to the SBA for authorization. PLP status is the highest designation reserved for lenders who have proven their commitment to the SBA 7(a) program and demonstrated proficiency in processing and servicing SBA-guaranteed loans. PLP lenders process most loans under “delegated authority,” allowing the lender to make decisions on behalf of the SBA, eliminating the need for further review. This can save weeks of processing time when access to capital is needed most.

At The Bank of Tampa, we are committed to small businesses throughout the Tampa Bay area. In fact, we are ranked as one of the most active SBA 7(a) lenders in the market. The Bank of Tampa offers two different types of SBA loan programs. SBA 7(a) loans provide a wide range of uses and amounts from $150,000 to $5 million and terms of 10‒25 years depending on the purpose. The SBA 504 program is reserved for large fixed-asset purchases like equipment and owner-occupied commercial real estate, allowing for terms up to 25 years and low interest rate options. Eligibility requirements apply to both the SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loan programs.

If you are interested in learning more about SBA lending and what we can do for you, please feel free to reach out to me directly at

About The Author

Kevin Gilligan serves as Vice President, SBA Director at The Bank of Tampa. He brings more than 15 years of experience in banking and finance and more than 10 years of experience specifically in SBA lending.

The Bank of Tampa | Member FDIC