Empire National Bank said Wednesday that it is expanding its small business lending to include loans backed by the Small Business Administration.
The Islandia-based bank also said it has hired an executive to spearhead Empire’s growth into SBA 7(a) loans.
Philip Amico, who had been a vice president at Lake Success-based Newtek Small Business Finance LLC, has joined Empire as vice president and senior commercial SBA loan officer.
He will be responsible for bringing in new small-business clients, said Douglas C. Manditch, the bank’s chairman and chief executive.
“Since the SBA guarantees up to 75 percent of 7(a) loans, there is a slightly lower threshold for qualifications, which gives more small businesses an opportunity to get financing,” Manditch said, adding that a small business would apply directly to Empire, which would then obtain SBA backing as part of the approval process.
Manditch said the SBA 7(a) loans would run between $100,000 and $5 million.
Empire had about $500 million in loans outstanding as of Sept. 30. Manditch said SBA 7(a) loans could add about $35 million to its portfolio in 2018.
“We want to build this with a conservative approach and build it the proper way,” Manditch said.
Empire has four branches on Long Island and one branch in Manhattan.