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What a Preferred Lending Partner Can Offer Your Small Business

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

As a business owner or a prospective business owner, there may come a time when you need additional financing. Perhaps you are interested in completing a business acquisition, a partner buyout, or you need to finance an expansion or equipment. Often, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) loan program offers the best solutions when conventional financing does not fit the needs of a small business. The SBA 7(a) program provides lenders, like The Bank of Tampa, a partial guarantee to help small businesses obtain essential financing for a wide range of business needs.

While the SBA 7(a) program has its advantages, navigating the application process can be lengthy and complicated. What is the secret sauce to navigating the SBA loan process as quickly and efficiently as possible?

When the time comes to apply for a loan, you want it to be by the quickest and most efficient means possible, right? 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.

Dealing with an SBA preferred lender has significant advantages:

  • SBA preferred lenders have the authority to approve most SBA 7(a) loan requests without additional approval from the SBA. This significantly cuts processing time, streamlines the overall process, and provides capital access when needed most.
  • Preferred lenders offer qualifying borrowers loans through the 7(a) program of up to $5 million with flexible terms and interest rates.
  • Preferred lending partners have a proven track record of commitment to the SBA 7(a) program and demonstrated expertise in all phases of the life of the loan.

At The Bank of Tampa, we are committed to small businesses across Tampa Bay. 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