The New Hampshire Business Finance Authority (BFA) was created to foster economic development and employment in New Hampshire. The BFA accomplishes these objectives by working with New Hampshire’s banking, business and economic development sectors to develop and implement programs that expand the availability of credit in the state.
The BFA was launched in 1992 after the national Savings and Loan crisis during which one-third of banks closed and many businesses found their lines of credit frozen. The BFA was created by the Legislature to back bank loans and get credit flowing again. Twenty-seven years later, the BFA still functions to help open lines of credit to “good companies that need a little extra help,” says Executive Director James Key-Wallace.
In 2018, the BFA provided credit enhancement on 83 loans and worked with 16 banks to help or create 1,361 jobs. The businesses that BFA helps are diverse, including a loan guarantee for Bensonwood in Keene, and a guarantee to a line of credit for Tri-County Community Action, Inc. to ensure no interruptions of vital community services.
The BFA might be best known for its larger projects, such as guaranteeing a loan for BAE Systems expansion, making it possible for the company to hire an additional 800 employees in the coming year. But the truth is that most of BFA’s lending revolves around “main-street” companies and micro-lending opportunities, which create community. BFA lending assistance is as available to the single proprietor of a taco truck, like B’s Tacos, just as it is to Lonza Biologics, a leader in the biotech industry with 100 worksites worldwide.
In securing financing for your business, “the best place to start is with your bank,” says Key-Wallace. “The bank will usually know which BFA loan is the best fit for your company.” Many times, a bank would like to make a loan, but the business doesn’t fit squarely in the box. Even rapid growth can complicate obtaining a loan for a company. BFA may put up a partial loan guarantee or partner with an organization to lend the money. If a business owner calls the BFA directly he or she will find it accessible. As a New Hampshire organization, BFA operates locally, and staff is available to provide assistance on the phone or in person.
“It is an efficient process and not overly complex,” says Key-Wallace. “It is hard enough running a business; we don’t want to make you swim through a bunch of red tape.”
While the BFA does a great deal to support New Hampshire businesses and the New Hampshire economy, the organization is independently funded, and all programs are designed to be self-sufficient, meaning no tax dollars go to support any operations. The returns from BFA’s investments pay for staff, create loan-loss reserves and allow BFA to take on new initiatives.
“The main thing at the end of the day is making sure that New Hampshire companies, which are trying to grow and make jobs, have access to the loans and investments they need to make that growth. Many times, you can get that from your bank, but sometimes you need a little extra help to get that loan across the finish line,” says Key-Wallace.