Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Small Business Administration representative discusses loan options


SPRINGTOWN — Robert Chieffalo started his career at the U.S. Small Business Administration just before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and was tasked with helping small businesses access the resources needed to stay afloat.

“I have spent 95% of my time over the past four years talking with small business owners, helping them navigate through these various programs as well as the programs that were made available during COVID,” Chieffalo said to an audience of Springtown Area Chamber of Commerce members during the Feb. 22 luncheon.

Chieffalo works at the administration’s DFW District Office in Euless, which serves 72 counties in northeastern Texas, from the Oklahoma and Arkansas border down to about Waco and from Texarkana to Vernon.

In the U.S., there are about 30.7 million small businesses operating, and nearly half of people working at private companies are employed by small businesses, Chieffalo said. Small businesses have created about two-thirds of jobs in the past 25 years, including 6.43 million since the pandemic.

“Small businesses drive our economy,” he said. “The SBA was established during the Eisenhower administration in 1953. Last year was our 70th anniversary. At that time, realizing that small businesses are an integral part of the fabric of this great country, the Eisenhower administration decided they needed to establish a federal agency that would cater and provide for the needs of the small business.”

However, small businesses need money to operate, and accessing that capital can be a roadblock for them, Chieffalo said. More than 80% of small businesses reported needing a better way to get financing, almost 30% of small businesses collapse because they don’t have enough capital, and the average number of days’ worth of reserves that small businesses have on hand is 27.

“(That’s) not very much time,” Chieffalo said about number of days’ worth of reserves on hand.

As a lender relations specialist, this is the area where Chieffalo can provide assistance.

“SBA guaranteed $33.9 billion worth of loans, which amounted to a little over 63,000 total loans in fiscal year 2023,” he said, adding that 15 loans for about $15.9 million total originated in multiple Parker County business sectors.

In fact, Chieffalo said the SBA administered over a trillion dollars’ worth of loans in the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans during the pandemic. In 2023, more than 600,000 jobs were created or retained by loans originated by over 1,680 lenders.

Chieffalo talked about the different kinds of loans as well as the specific qualifications that small businesses need to meet to get loans. He also said that currently, the guarantee fee paid by small business owners in the lending process is waived for SBA loans up to $1 million.

“Now there may be some cost to originate that loan, but the guarantee upfront and ongoing is absorbed by the federal government,” Chieffalo said. “(This is a) big thing for smaller small businesses.”  

For assistance, Chieffalo recommended contacting a resource center, such as Small Business Development Centers and SCORE Business Mentors, both of which have offices near downtown Fort Worth. Small Business Development Centers assist with developing a business plan, budget and resume as well as getting ready to meet with a banker.

“Many times, you've never met with a banker before, and it could be foreign to you. It could create some anxiety,” Chieffalo said. “These people can help walk you through that process that takes away a lot of that and can help you prepare yourself for what you're about to face.”

SCORE is made up of people who are either retired or in the later stages of their career and want to “give back,” Chieffalo said.

“There are a lot of people in this world that are givers, and many times, that's what you're going to find in these people, in these counselors,” he said.

For more information, visit the SBA website at online. Chieffalo can be reached at 817-684-5512 or by email at