The Small Business Administration backed 35 loans in the Greater Killeen Area last year helping Bell County rank No. 5 in loans supported by the federal agency’s Fort Worth District.

“Bell County is our No. 5 in terms of SBA lending in our district,” said Herbert Austin, district director for the Dallas-Fort Worth Office.

“As a small county, it has always been a very strong lending county.”

With 29 loans in Bell County, about $17.8 million was guaranteed by SBA for local business owners during the 2013 fiscal year, stated a report from the federal agency. Six Coryell County businesses were issued another $2.2 million.

Christie Somogye, market manager and vice president at Broadway Bank in Killeen, said the bank receives a good amount of inquiries about new business financing.

About 10 to 15 people a year seek such loans just at Broadway Bank, an SBA preferred lender, she said. For startup businesses and longer-running establishments, having an SBA guarantee is almost always the only way to secure the loan.

“(Requests for loans) seem to have slowed down recently, but being involved in the community, you talk to people who are wanting to open up their own business,” Somogye said. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the area.”

For those seeking loans for a commercial endeavor, Somogye suggested having some equity to put down in the business and perhaps operating from home for a year.

“By the time you are able to get a store front, you are not a startup business,” she said. “You have some of that business background.”

District comparison

Twenty-nine backed loans is a small number, however, when compared to the district’s top four counties, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Dallas County businesses were issued 481 SBA guaranteed loans for $264 million. Tarrant County had 369 SBA backed loans issued for $174 million. Collin County had 201 for $101 million, and Denton County received 161 loans at $82.4 million.

“The average loan size in the district office is $534,000,” Austin said.

“If you want to look at the 29 loans, the average loan size in Bell County is $613,000. The national average is lower than $426,000.”

Despite the difference in numbers, Austin said the ranking is a good economic indicator.

“If you look at Temple and Killeen, you can tell it is a good economy,” Austin said.

Contact Mason W. Canales at ​mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474

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