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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Investor Spotlight: CDC Small Business Finance

November 9, 2015

This week we sat down with Kurt Chilcott, president and CEO of CDC Small Business Finance. Headquartered in San Diego, the nonprofit serves the financing needs of small businesses in California, Arizona and Nevada. CDC offers fixed-rate, low down-payment loans to promote economic development and business expansion. Since 1978, the organization has helped provide 174,000 jobs throughout the country.


1) Tell us what CDC Small Business Finance does.

Our roots go back nearly 40 years when a seasoned businessman with a passion for community development – Art Goodman – launched CDC Small Business Finance. In many respects, Art, along with the old Bank of Commerce, pioneered Small Business Administration (SBA) lending in San Diego and beyond. They fine-tuned a loan production process that made SBA lending attractive to traditional banks and set the stage for the development of SBA financing for small businesses. Today, CDC offers financing to startups, as well as more established businesses. Our financing capabilities range from $50,000 to over $20 million. The capital is the means to an end: job creation and economic development in the communities we serve throughout California, Arizona and Nevada. We are the nation’s largest SBA-504 program lender (loans used to buy commercial real estate), as well as the largest SBA Community Advantage lender. And we continue to innovate within the small business finance space, a huge asset for San Diego.

2)   What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?  

San Diego has always been small-business centric, which lines up perfectly with CDC’s mission to help small businesses grow and create jobs.  Small business by its nature is entrepreneurial and so are we. We’re constantly developing better ways to help entrepreneurs pursue their small business dreams via access to capital. Our own entrepreneurial spirit and belief in the power of economic development motivated us to put down our corporate anchor in Liberty Station in 2004 before any of the new development became reality. It was a bold move at the time, but we feel good about being a corporate pioneer in one of the city’s more successful revitalization areas.

3)  San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Manufacturers are among the most dynamic small businesses because they comprise a strong industry that keeps dollars and jobs in the San Diego economy.  A couple of examples that we have helped grow are Stone Brewing Co. and Steico Industries. Stone Brewing really took off when it built its new San Marcos production facility which we’re proud to have financed. And Steico Industries, which manufactures precision components for aerospace and medical industries, created an entire manufacturing village, buying multiple buildings in the same business park with the help of SBA financing.

4)  What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

We envision a good deal of regional innovation and diversification, all in pursuit of developing and delivering the best low-cost, easy-to-access loan products and services to small businesses. Their success is the catalyst for job creation in San Diego.  The small business landscape is changing dramatically for San Diego, with the amount of available capital growing and coming from a variety of sources, the newest one being online lenders. Collaboration has been the hallmark of the San Diego business community and that should continue, as it helps us compete effectively against other regions. Our challenge going forward is to create new business in a variety of industries that spawn quality, high-paying jobs.