SBA issues first marine floor plan loan

WASHINGTON – The first marine loan has been issued under the Small Business Administration’s Dealer Floor Plan pilot program, according to a release from the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Tennessee-based Cleveland Boat Center has finalized its SBA Dealer Floor Plan loan with longtime SBA lender Citizens National Bank of Athens, Tenn. The SBA Dealer Floor Plan program, which launched earlier this year, offers government guaranteed loans to finance inventory for eligible boat, auto, RV and other dealerships.

“We’re pleased to hear that the SBA has finalized its first marine floor plan loan and hope to see many more marine loans,” Jim Coburn, president of the National Marine Bankers Association, said in the release. “This is a vital program for our industry and we encourage SBA to make it a permanent lending program once the pilot ends.”

To date, there have been 23 businesses approved for SBA DFP loans. Of these, there are marine businesses in Michigan and New Jersey that have pending loans, in addition to the Cleveland Boat Center, according to the NMMA.

“Our SBA loan has provided our business with manageable terms and increased flexibility,” Randy Wattenbarger, owner of the Cleveland Boat Center, said in the release. “It’s helping us preserve jobs and keep boats available to local boaters at a price they can afford.”

The NMMA also reported that last week, GE Commercial Distribution Finance brought more than $500 million in securitized floor plan loans to market partially under the Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility (TALF). GE previously brought an initial $500 million in floorplan loans through TALF to market in early August. NMMA said it has worked successfully to get marine floorplan asset-backed securities eligible under TALF.

“As the economy slowly recovers, initiatives like TALF and the SBA DFP program are providing additional, much-needed help to resilient marine businesses as they work to emerge from this downturn,” NMMA President Thom Dammrich said in the release. “NMMA has been working hard to make these programs relevant to the marine industry and we look forward to continued collaboration with SBA and the Obama Administration.”

The SBA DFP program is set to end on Sep. 30, 2010, at which point SBA will decide to extend the pilot, terminate the pilot or make it a permanent part of SBA’s lending programs. NMMA has recommended that in lieu of that current expiration date, SBA make the program a three-year pilot program that will automatically renew unless SBA determines that floor plan financing is readily available from the private market.

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