annual report

By the numbers: Houston sees rise in small business loans received

The U.S. Small Business Administration has been facilitating more loans than ever before. Image via Getty Images

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Houston district saw a nearly 25 percent increase this year in the dollar amount of the most popular type of SBA loan compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

A new report from the SBA shows small businesses in the 32-county district received $1.3 billion in 7(a) loans in fiscal 2021 compared with almost $1.05 billion in pre-pandemic 2019. Borrowers in the SBA-backed 7(a) program can obtain loans of up to $2 million. The length of each loan is 25 years for real estate deals and seven years for working capital.

“The SBA continues to make headway in helping small businesses access much-needed capital, but much more work remains to be done,” Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Capital Access, says in a news release.

In terms of the number of 7(a) loans extended in the Houston district, the top lenders for fiscal 2021 were:

  • Wallis-based Wallis Bank
  • San Francisco-based Wells Fargo
  • Columbus, Ohio-based United Midwest Savings Bank
  • Birmingham, Alabama-based BBVA USA (now part of Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank)
  • Wilmington, North Carolina-based Live Oak Bank, the country’s most active 7(a) lender.

The top 7(a) lenders by total dollar amount of loans were:

  • Wallis Bank
  • Live Oak Bank
  • Humble-based Plains State Bank
  • San Antonio-based Frost Bank
  • Kingswood-based The Mint National Bank

The SBA’s Houston district is home to more than 600,000 small businesses in a 32-county region that includes the nine counties in the Houston metro area: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller.

Nationwide, the SBA backed $36.5 billion in 7(a) loans in fiscal 2021. Nearly $11 billion went to minority-owned businesses, $5 billion to woman-owned businesses, and $1.2 billion to veteran-owned businesses.

SBA lending could experience an uptick in fiscal 2021 due to inflation. An October 2021 survey conducted for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife found 45 percent of small businesses had taken out loans to cope with rising inflation; among retailers, that figure was 58 percent. In the survey, 74 percent of small business owners expressed concern about inflation.

“Small business owners’ optimism is plowing through economic uncertainty, but they now face new obstacles with rising inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain challenges,” Tom Sullivan, vice president for small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says in a news release.

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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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