Yes, cash flow is important. As a 34-year veteran of the commercial lending industry, however, Linda Riba of Region 10 likes to remember that there are other words that begin with “C” as well.

“We can also look at context, character and collateral,” Riba said. “They are all pieces of the puzzle.”

The community itself is like a puzzle in which many pieces work and fit together to create the big picture, she noted. She sees her new role as assistant director of the Region 10 Small Business Resource Center as an excellent opportunity to eliminate “gaps” in lending opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Riba’s extensive skill set includes tenure as an SBA lender, and she is excited about the prospect of helping local banks to make more loans to small businesses.

“Bankers are often forced to say no to deals that they know can work,” she said. “Here at Region 10, we can partner with banks, and by each taking a piece, we can get that small business what it needs to grow and get some people hired.”

In addition to facilitating the ability of community banks to meet the needs of small business customers, Riba said that her new position will allow her to offer more in-depth advice and counsel, something bankers may be constrained from doing given the current regulatory environment.

“We have so many great classes, and so many resources,” she said. “We can help with a business plan, with understanding financial statements, and with other tools that small companies can use to manage their cash flow and avoid surprises.”

Riba’s job is funded through the Small Business Administration, which had notified the six-county non-profit organization that additional funds were available. Regional Development Coordinator Jay Stooksberry then wrote an SBA grant to create the position, which will support the efforts of Region 10’s Business Loan Fund.

“I had worked with (Region 10 SBRC Director) Vince Fandel when I was in banking, and we partnered on some Main Street loans back then,” Riba said. “I hope to capitalize on my experiences now that I am here-I want to help convert our many inquiries into loans for small businesses, and continue to facilitate employment for individuals here in our six-county region.”
Small business is the major employer in the United States, she said.

“I am excited to help businesses start, grow, expand, and hire more people,” she said. “We are accessible, we are not cost-prohibitive, and we are happy to talk with folks!” Riba can be reached at 970-249-2436.

UPDATE: Linda Riba is no longer with Region 10. For more information about the small business programs at Region 10, please call (970) 249-2436.