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Local lending on rise

Published 9:58am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Aliant, BB&T report gains this year in commercial loans 

Local banks are reporting commercial lending is up. Randy Dawkins, senior vice president and commercial lender for Aliant Bank, said that his bank has seen a 20 percent increase in commercial loans. Dawkins sees this as a positive sign for the local economy.

“I feel like people are feeling better about the economy,” Dawkins said. “Consumer confidence is part of it. Two-thirds of our economy is based on consumer spending. If people are feeling good about spending money then businesses may feel good about expanding.”

Dawkins said a lot of the growth in commercial loans is coming from existing customers.

“We have seen our commercial customers coming in for several reasons – expanding their buildings, purchasing some new equipment,” Dawkins said. “We hope they are expanding their buildings so they can add some employees.”

Todd Nestor, market president for BB&T, said that his bank has also experienced a growth in commercial lending in Alexander City.

“BB&T has been focused in the market and has been and has been successful moving market share over the last few years,” Nestor said. “We remain committed to experiencing double-digit growth in our loan portfolio to include this year in Alabama.”

While Aliant Bank reports that its highest area of growth is from its existing customers, Nestor said BB&T is growing its loan portfolio from new customers.

“We have seen an increase in (loan) applications in all of Alabama,” Nestor said. “It’s not necessarily due to industry growth but mostly from market share move. We are moving clients from other banks.”

Dawkins said he has seen people refinancing loans as well.

“We have people that are refinancing for the purpose of improving their cash flow,” Dawkins said. “(Financing rates) are favorable compared to what they were two or three years ago.”

Dawkins said banks are looking to lend more these days.

“We have money to lend, but we want good loans,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins said that for companies that might not meet the specifications for a traditional loan, the Small Business Association may be able to help.

“We are a SBA certified lender, which gives us another tool in our belt to help businesses,” Dawkins said. “The last several years have been tough years, and a lot of our commercial customers have had tough years. We can try to get it approved through SBA, and we can help that customer with growth, expansion – whatever we can do.”