May 20th – 26th is National Small Business Week, a time to recognize the essential contributions small businesses make to local economies. One of NerdWallet’s favorite small businesses is, you guessed it, the community bank. Typically defined as a bank with less than $1 billion in assets, community banks play a huge role in helping other small businesses succeed by providing them with more loans than any other financial institution. Community banks lend out roughly 66% of their assets to small businesses, easily more than double the amount of your average big bank. Accordingly, community banks are also one of the biggest providers of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in America. The SBA is an independent government organization dedicated to small business advocacy, lending opportunities and entrepreneurial development.
SBA loans at a glance
SBA loans are intended for small business owners who do not have access to other forms of financing. While the SBA doesn’t lend money, it does set the guidelines for SBA loans, which are made by its lending partners, including community banks. You can view detailed information on the SBA’s website, but the two most common types of loans include the 7(a), which is designed for businesses with region or industry-specific requirements, and the 504, which provides money for expansion and modernization.
Here are NerdWallet’s picks for community banks with top-ranking SBA programs. Please note that the city in parentheses refers to the bank’s headquarters. Some of these banks have a special SBA loan office, which is mentioned where applicable.
BankFive – (Fall River, MA)
You wouldn’t guess it from their name, but BankFive actually has 13 locations throughout the South Coast in Massachusetts. In 2011, they were named the SBA Minority Lender of the Year for the third year in a row! Now that’s what we call commitment to the community. In addition to SBA loans, BankFive also offers business checking and money market accounts, remote check processing services, and commercial loans.
Community West Bank (Goleta, CA)
Community West Bank has 5 branch locations in Goleta, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Venture. They have 2 SBA specialists on hand to answer your questions at their SBA loan center in Roseville. In addition to offering 7(a) loans and 504 loans, Community West Bank also offers conventional real estate loans, and USDA Business & Industry loans, which are specially designed to address the borrowing needs of businesses in rural areas.
Kitsap Bank (Port Orchard, WA)
One of the oldest community banks in Washington, Kitsap Bank has over 20 locations in the Greater Puget Sound region. They were recently picked as the number one SBA lender among community banks in Washington. In addition to SBA loans, Kitsap Bank provides working capital lines of credit for professionals, including doctors, dentists, CPAs and attorneys. For all small business owners, they provide cash management and deposit account services, and retirement planning. Their SBA loan offices are located in Bremerton and Gig Harbor.
TwoRiver Community Bank (Middletown, NJ)
Two River Community Bank has 15 branches in Eastern Monmouth County and the Union County area. They offer 7(a) loans, 504 loans and term business loans, which you can use to purchase equipment, vehicles and other fixed assets. In addition to SBA loans, they also offer commercial loans, real estate loans, and private banking services for medical and business professionals.
Cornerstone Community Bank (Grafton, WI)
Cornerstone Community Bank has 3 locations in Grafton, Fox Point and Menomonee Falls. They recently earned an SBA Volume Lender Award, which is given to financial institutions that make a substantial number of loans to local businesses. Cornerstone Community Bank’s other small business banking services include deposit accounts with online banking, real estate lending, and remote deposit capture, which allows you to make deposits from your computer.
First Community Bank (Corpus Christi, TX)
First Community Bank has 7 branches in Corpus Christi and surrounding area. They’ve won several awards for their SBA lending services, including the 2010 SBA 7(a) Dollar Volume Award, 2010 Community Rural Lender of the Year, 2007 SBA Rising Star for the Rio Grande Valley District, and special recognition for outstanding service to the military community through the SBA patriot express loan initiative. Visit their Everhart location to speak with their SBA loan manager and learn more.
Bridge Bank (San Jose, CA)
Bridge Bank has 2 SBA lending offices in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose and Palo Alto) and another one in the East Bay Area (Pleasanton). With preferred SBA lender status, they can process your application within 24 hours and ensure a quick response. In addition to SBA loans, they also offer commercial real estate lending, e-banking for businesses, and international banking services.
Don’t see a nearby SBA lender on this list?
Check out the SBA’s Loans and Grants Search Tool to locate one close to you.