US SBA establishes local office to touts its service


    The U. S. Small Business Association has been expanding its physical reach and recently decided to set up a one-person office in Suite 307 of the Federal Building in downtown Grand Rapids.

    “The agency has been working on establishing these one-person offices for a period of time, and we’ve made our interest known that we wanted to establish one in Grand Rapids,” said Richard Temkin, Michigan district director for the SBA. “The agency approved it a number of months ago, and we were able to advertise the position that Brian (Picarazzi) was able to fill a few weeks ago.”

    Picarazzi is now the senior area manager for the West Michigan SBA office. His primary focus will be to educate lenders and the business community on the many programs the SBA has to offer.

    “I’ll be working with our lenders. I’ll be in the banks and our other resource partners to really help increase SBA-backed loans to small businesses,” said Picarazzi. “The main focus is we’d like to increase SBA lending to the small business owners in the community. There’s folks and businesses out there that need it, and we’re just looking to help add value and increase some of the capital these business can access to grow their business.”

    Picarazzi will be responsible for covering Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.

    While Picarazzi wasn’t able to speak to lending in the West Michigan market yet, he said that, overall, opportunities for lending are growing.

    “It seems to me that things are starting to loosen up a little bit,” he said. “I think business owners understand there are some opportunities out there to obtain capital through the Small Business Administration. That’s what I’m here for — to help facilitate that process.”

    To the small business owner, Picarazzi’s presence won’t be felt directly. The process of obtaining a loan will stay the same. What will change is the awareness lenders will have on all the SBA loan options.

    “My job is more of an educational role with the lenders — helping the lenders with the SBA loans that they’re doing. They may have questions on different programs,” he said.

    Picarazzi will also help educate the small business community.

    “I’ll be doing trade shows with community organizations. I’ll work heavily with chamber of commerce and other community organizations and do educational seminars directly to small business owners, as well,” he said.

    Picarazzi said there are some SBA events coming in the near future, but no hard dates have been set.

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