SAN FRANCISCO – While most large banks can’t see the return in securing business loans under the $100,000 mark, one bank is bucking that trend. In 2003, Wells Fargo & Co. extended more than $10 billion in loans that were less than $100,000 to more than 420,000 business owners, according to the bank. The $428 billion bank said it is also ranked first in lending to small businesses in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods for loans less than $1 million. Wells Fargo was the leading lender for loans under $100,000 in 16 states, including California and Texas, the two states with the largest number of small businesses. The bank said it was also ranked first in small business lending in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Minnesota, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Washington. The second largest national SBA lender in dollars behind Bank of America, Wells Fargo is an SBA Preferred Lender in 28 states, and originated 3,555 loans for $495 million in 2004. “We have been steadfast in our outreach to small business owners, and have had a dedicated focus on this segment for over 15 years,” said Marc Bernstein, executive vice president for Wells Fargo’s Small Business Lending division. According to some industry data, 95% of businesses generate less than $1 million in annual revenues. Most of these businesses seek loans for less than $100,000. Credit unions have long wooed small business owners seeking loans within this range.
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