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Loan specialist lands in Hub

SBA officer looks to expand lending to local small businesses

Martin Desmarais
Loan specialist lands in Hub
Nadine Boone, U.S. Small Business Administration Massachusetts District Office Lead Lending Specialist. (Photo: Martin Desmarais)

Nadine Boone has made small business loans her work for much of the nearly two decades she has been with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Next week the Roxbury community has a chance to connect with her face-to-face in her role as the SBA’s local lending guru.

Boone is the SBA Massachusetts District Office Lead Lending Specialist. She joined the office in June 2015, coming up from the D.C. offices and a lifetime spent in Virginia. One of her main jobs is to work with local banks to make sure they continue to provide the money for the loans that fuel the SBAs many loan programs, which often are the main chance for local small businesses to get the capital they need to survive, grow or succeed.

By the numbers

The local SBA just finished a banner year in lending to minority and underserved businesses.

$645 million: Amount given out in loans to small businesses

64: Number of loans to Black/African American businesses

124: Number of loans to Latino-owned companies

177: Number of loans to Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs

On Feb. 2, Boone will be at the Roxbury Innovation Center for an “Access to Capital Workshop” from 5:15-6:15 p.m. The purpose of the event is to showcase some of the things Boone and the SBA can do for local small businesses and make sure they are aware of the lending programs out there.

The event caps off Boone’s first half-year in Boston and a spree of her hitting the streets to try and get to know her new community. She already has spent time with those running the Roxbury Innovation Center, made the prerequisite meet-and-greets at many local banks, is in talks to work with Roxbury Community College and has made the rounds to many local Main Street associations.

In short, she is leaving no stone unturned in her efforts.

“I just need to get out there on the street and really be able to talk with the small business owners about how this really works and what we need to do,” Boone said.

Boone also strongly embraces the SBA’s efforts to better serve communities of color.

“We are growing SBA’s presence in the minority communities and the underserved communities,” she said.

The numbers suggest there couldn’t be a better time for Boone to lift the mantle in this regard. Locally, the SBA just finished a banner year in lending to minority and underserved businesses.

Of a record $645 million from about 2,500 loans, the underserved categories also hit record highs with 64 loans to Black/African American businesses, 124 loans to Latino-owned companies and 177 loans to Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs. The biggest underserved rise was in the American Indian category, up from four loans in 2014 fiscal year to 14 in 2015.

One of the reasons for this is Massachusetts’ strength in connecting businesses with low-dollar loans, the loans that banks are not interested in giving but small companies often need. For all SBA loans in the U.S., Massachusetts is No. 1 in loans of less than $50,000 and No. 2 on loans of less than $150,000.

“This office had a success story when I arrived and I perceive my job is to make certain that the success story of the Massachusetts District Office is all-inclusive.

Therefore, I need to make certain that I am in the underserved community, that the underserved community knows about what it is that we do here, what it is that we offer,” Boone said. “That is what I bring to this table.”

Not lost on Boone is her ability to connect with the communities the SBA is trying to reach because of her own background. She is a first-generation college graduate who attended Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., while raising her teenage daughter as a single mom. She spent much of her life doing what she could to make ends meet, selling furniture, working in real estate and doing some teaching before getting her foot in the door with the SBA in Washington D.C.

“I understand being focused and having to have a lot of irons in the fire and feel like you are ducking the darts or daggers that are being thrown at you,” she said.

Coming up on 18 years with the SBA, Boone has worked in a variety of positions for the organization, from loan specialist in its National Guaranty Purchase Center to working in the lender relations office. She said the opportunity to be a lead lender in a district office was too good to pass up.

“I left everything I knew and what was familiar to me for this opportunity. I had never been to Massachusetts when I accepted this challenge, this job, to come here and make a difference,” said Boone.

SBA Massachusetts District Director Robert Nelson feels they have the right person for the job in bringing Boone to Boston.

“The small businesses, financial institutions and the entire economic development ecosystem will benefit from Nadine Boone joining SBA Massachusetts and serving the public for the growth of the local economy,” Nelson said. “Nadine’s experience as an

access-to-capital expert and problem solver at different servicing departments for SBA will help communities successfully navigate the different programs and services that everybody should have access to and be aware of.”

Boone’s drive to Boston was the longest she had ever taken. She has settled into Revere near the waterfront, perhaps to feel some echo of her years in Newport News, which is also close to the ocean.

Despite the drastic move, she has only positive things to say about the decision to come to Boston.

“To be here as the lead lender relations specialist in Massachusetts, where I am out front to help build dreams, to help facilitate making some dreams come true, I am very excited. I feel like I am working on my God-given purpose in life,” she said.