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“Speed Dating”-Style Financing for Small Businesses

By Colin McEvoy on October 21, 2014

It’s like speed dating. Only instead of getting connected with a possible date, you’re connected with a lending institution that could help you finance your small business.

The Small Business Administration will host a free “speed-financing event,” co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., in which Lehigh Valley small businesses or entrepreneurs will have the opportunity meet with multiple potential lenders, including the LVEDC.

Modeled after the speed dating concept, each prospective borrower will be matched one-on-one with a lender in 10-minute “pitch periods,” during which they can present their financing needs. After the pitch period ends, the borrower moves on and speaks to another lender for another 10 minutes.

The event is intended to foster entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley, giving borrowers a better chance at obtaining a loan, and providing the lenders leads and the ability to help small businesses in the community, said Shannon Degiglio, SBA lender relations and economic development specialist.

“From the borrower’s perspective, it’s valuable to them because it brings all the lenders together and it takes the guesswork from them trying to go into a bank and figure out what bank has what appetite to work with certain industries,” she said. “They have more of a chance to access capital because we’re bringing everybody into one room together.”

More than 20 lending institutions are expected to participate in the event, which will likely draw more than 200 potential small business borrowers, Degiglio said.

“If you think about it, where else is a business really going to get the opportunity to talk to that many lending institutions together in one room?” said Kim Edwards, LVEDC’s director of finance. “There’s going to be a wide variety of financial institutions and resource partners available to meet with prospective business owners to address any particular financial needs that may be in front of them.”

The Lehigh Valley Lender Match and Business Resources Expo will be held October 29 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Lehigh Valley Hotel and Convention Center in Bethlehem. There is no cost for small businesses wishing to participate.

Loan decisions cannot be made on site, but lenders may schedule more detailed future interviews with any entrepreneurs who may be a match with their lending portfolio. LVEDC officials will be on hand to provide information about multiple incentive financing programs the organization helps facilitate through state or federal loan government programs, such as SBA 504 loans, Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loans and Small Business First low-interest loans.

This marks the third time the SBA has hosted the Lehigh Valley Lender Match and Business Resources Expo, and the first time it has been held since 2011. Visit this site to register in advance, and contact Degiglio at 610-382-3082 for more information. Lenders are still being accepted at a cost of $150 per table, but the deadline to apply is Thursday, October 23.

In addition to the SBA and CACLV, other sponsors for the event include the Lehigh Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Lehigh Valley SCORE, the Pennsylvania Community Development and Finance Corporation (PCDfc), the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV), and the Nazareth, Whitehall and Slate Belt chambers of commerce.

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