Monthly Archives: February 2016

Pacific Coast Regional – Help for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

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If you haven’t heard of Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation (PCR), today may be your lucky day. The organization’s dedicated staff, led by CEO Mark Robertson, want to help you and your business. They do this primarily by offering classes for small business owners and entrepreneurs and by helping small businesses get the loans they need to accomplish their goals.

PCR, located in the Koreatown neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, offers each of their small business development center (SBDC) classes every one to two months throughout the year. Want expert instruction about business development or management? Legal or financing issues? Marketing? Accounting? Quickbooks? Check out the PCR website↗ to see the latest training schedule for these classes and more. The sessions are very reasonably priced and are taught by experts.

Perhaps you want a one-on-one consultation with an expert about your business plan or your social media strategy? Believe it or not, PCR offers business consulting services for free. All you need to do is set up an appointment, which you can do online.↗

PCR is also an invaluable resource if you’re thinking of applying for a business loan. If you can’t quite meet all of your bank’s lending requirements, PCR will work with one of its network banks, including Grandpoint Bank, to co-sign with the borrower. This is possible by virtue of the California Small Business Loan Guarantee program↗ (SPLGP)

As one of nine state certified Financial Development Corporations, and a U.S. Treasury-certified community development financial institution (CDFI), PCR can provide up to an 80% loan guarantee (or a maximum of $2.5 million) to the bank to help you get the loan you need.  Any small business has the chance to qualify as long as it meets the standard SBA definition of a small business. “PCR not only facilitates loans, but sometimes a loan will be contingent on the business owner taking classes offered at PCR,” said David Ross, PCR chairman and Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer at Grandpoint Bank. “While the loan may provide the boost, the classes provide instruction for long-term success.”

In addition to its federal CDFI designation, PCR is one of less than 100 State of California-certified CDFIs and the only SBDC in Los Angeles County with internal lending capacity.

As such, and thanks to a generous $500,000 grant made by Comerica Bank in 2006, PCR can make micro-loans valued at $25,000 or less on its own.

PCR can also access a revolving loan fund of $3 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, which allows Mark and his team to provide loans of up to $650,000 to qualified applicants.

“We hope our customers will graduate into a regular banking relationship, but the services and small loans we can provide in the interim help them to do that,” said Mark. Truly a one-stop-shop for Los Angeles County small businesses, PCR’s newest program helps businesses located along transportation corridors experiencing construction disruptions. While the public transportation upgrades driving the construction will eventually be a boon to these area businesses, Los Angeles County Metro realized that small businesses in particular may suffer during construction, so they teamed up with PCR to find a solution.

As a result, Metro’s Business Interruption Fund↗ is a $10 million grant fund that can provide grants up to $50,000 for revenue lost due to construction. During the 10 months the program has been operational so far, 104 grants were made for just under $2 million total.  In addition, PCR reports that they’ve received calls from several other transit and utility authorities from around the state and beyond contemplating similar programs and seeking advice.

With so many valuable programs, Mark estimates that PCR helps approximately 1,300 small businesses each year. As you might expect, he’s gotten a good sense of what it takes to succeed in business.

“Having expertise in the field you’re pursuing and gathering the right team of necessary experts, is the most essential component,” he said. “Also important is a desire to work extremely hard, a willingness to sacrifice and adequate capitalization.”

If you’ve already found success in business but want to help others do the same, PCR offers two ways to volunteer. Bankers and financiers are always needed to participate on PCR’s loan committee to help review and approve transactions. Or, you may be able to serve on the advisory board to provide advice and support for PCR’s small business development center.

The Small Business Administration funds part of the small business development center, and additional funds come through class fees and corporate sponsorships.

“We’ve been a sponsor of PCR since Grandpoint Bank was founded,” said David. “I’ve also served on the PCR board of directors since 2011 and on one of their loan committees before that. I find it very fulfilling working with this organization and seeing the companies they helped launch that are still going strong.”

In fact, David is fortunate to have a great frozen dessert shop in his neighborhood that received a loan and coaching from PCR 15 years ago. It’s still operated by the same owner, and like so many other PCR clients, that owner is creating jobs and contributing to the Southern California economy.

We’re proud to be affiliated with PCR, and we encourage you to take advantage of their programs and share this information with others.

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↗ Linking to Non-Grandpoint Bank Websites
This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Grandpoint Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Grandpoint Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Grandpoint Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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Identity Theft – A Practical Guide from the Federal Trade Commission

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Do you know the red flags of identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission↗ has published a very helpful guide to not only help you recognize identity theft, but also protect yourself and your business against it and to take action if it happens to you. You can download a copy of the brochure for free on their website.↗ The following are some highlights from the brochure we’d like to share with our readers.

Red Flags of Identity Theft

  • Mistakes on your bank, credit card or other account statements
  • Mistakes on the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan
  • Your regular bills and account statements don’t arrive on time
  • Bills or collection notices for products or services you never received
  • Calls from debt collectors about debts that don’t belong to you
  • A notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number
  • Mail, email or calls about accounts or jobs in your minor child’s name
  • Unwarranted collection notices on your credit report
  • Businesses turn down your checks
  • You are turned down unexpectedly for a loan or job

How to Protect Your Information

  • Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies. To order, go to annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
  • Read your bank, credit card and account statements, as well as the medical explanation of benefits from your health plan. If a statement has errors or doesn’t come out on time, contact the business.
  • Shred all documents that show personal, financial and medical information before you throw them away.
  • Don’t respond to email, text and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information this way. Delete the messages.
  • Create passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
  • If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. (An encrypted site has https at the beginning of the web address.)
  • If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall on your computer.
  • Set your computer’s operating system, web browser and security system to update automatically.

If Your Identity Is Stolen

  • Call one of the nationwide credit reporting companies, and ask for a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call must contact the other two so they can put fraud alerts on your files. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days.
    • Equifax: 800‑525‑6285
    • Experian: 888‑397‑3742
    • TransUnion: 800‑680‑7289
  • Order your credit reports. Each report about you is slightly different, so order a report from each company. If you see mistakes or signs of fraud, contact the credit reporting company.
  • Create an Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report can help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company collecting debts caused by identity theft and get information about accounts a thief opened in your name.

To create an Identity Theft Report:

  • File a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 877-438-4338; TTY: 866-653-4261. Your completed complaint is called an FTC Affidavit.
  • Take your FTC Affidavit to your local police, or to the police where the theft occurred and file a police report. Get a copy of the police report.
    The two documents comprise an Identity Theft Report.

Identity theft can rob you of time, money and peace of mind. Implementing a methodical system to prevent, recognize and remedy it is your best line of defense. We hope this article helps you create or refine your plan.

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↗ Linking to Non-Grandpoint Bank Websites
This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Grandpoint Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Grandpoint Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Grandpoint Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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