Gateway Gazette

Small and Medium-sized Biz at Heart of ATB’s Plan to Help Grow Alberta

 

Edmonton — A decade-long strategy to focus on entrepreneurs and the small- and medium sized business community has now positioned ATB Financial to help protect and grow and guide good companies through the current economic uncertainty.

“Our plan is to grow our financial support of business in Alberta by billions over the next few years,” said Wellington Holbrook, Executive Vice-President, Business & Agriculture, at ATB Financial.

“The provincial budget announcement made last month gives us the capacity we need to deliver on Alberta’s entrepreneurial and business spirit.”

In the provincial budget released in October, the Province made changes to increase ATB’s capacity to make loans, putting an even higher priority on ATB’s mission to help Alberta entrepreneurs. Currently, ATB supports more small- and medium-sized businesses than any other financial institution in Alberta,  with almost 90,000 business customers, representing more than one in five businesses in the province.

Holbrook pointed to three new initiatives that join the host of unique ATB services to business:

ATB Entrepreneurship Centres — To be opened by spring 2016, these centres will be focussed on creating a better banking experience for entrepreneurs but will also provide general advice on business challenges and business fundamentals. They will be open to both ATB customers and other businesses looking for sound advice.

ATB Capital — Consider this a scoop of our announcement, to be finalized in the next few weeks, that ATB has developed a unique, private equity option for small business with growth plans.

Alberta BoostR – A crowdfunding platform designed to gain attention and support for new business ideas.

These innovations continue the momentum established by a string of recently introduced services provided by a team of tested, professional ATB bankers inspired by the need to grow Alberta. These include: Business Growth Loans and Mortgages(stretched working capital loans for established and proven small and medium sized enterprises), a one-of-a-kind Startup Package that gives entrepreneurs everything they need to start and run their businesses, and an official Entrepreneurship Strategy (the hallmark of which is a one-of-a-kind position, Manager, Entrepreneurship, that helps small business grow).

“Our government is helping start-ups get launched and is fuelling growth and innovation by increasing ATB’s capacity to make loans for Alberta’s entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade at the Government of Alberta. “As Minister for Economic Development and Trade, I have confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of Albertans and in ATB’s professionalism in helping those entrepreneurs succeed. That’s why I am optimistic our plan for growth and diversification will succeed in supporting good Alberta jobs.”

Currently ATB invests over $800,000 per year supporting hundreds of learning and networking events across the province that engage tens of thousands of entrepreneurs. ATB also is committing resources to extend additional expertise to support growth in other important Alberta business segments, including agri-business, renewable energy, aboriginal business, social enterprises, and value added and export industries.

“ATB is already recognized as a great place for entrepreneurs and businesses to get the support they need.  What we hope is emerging from these announcements is the sense that if you are in business, and you want a professional who understands your unique opportunities, you know that ATB is working very hard to create an even better experience for you,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook used the fact that ATB does more Canadian Small Business Financing Act loans each quarter than its competitors, and a decision to reduce and often waive personal guarantees for businesses requiring loans over $250,000, as more examples of how ATB’s commitment to small business goes beyond the expected.

“We know this province, we know the cities and towns and villages it’s built from, and we know the businesses small and big that make it all go,” he said, pointing to ATB’s Business Beat quarterly reports that canvas opinion from Alberta business owners to provide a real-time pulse of sentiment as another indicator of ATB’s business-first attitude.

Holbrook said ATB loves the companies it keeps. And the feeling seems to be mutual.

“In 15 years, we opened 14 stores and expanded our production facility from 200 square feet to 16,000 square feet. ATB supported us the whole time with creative finance tools to help support our growth,” said Karina Birch of Canmore’s Rocky Mountain Soap.

“As a seasonal business, JACEK Chocolate Couture always has the challenge of funding stock three months before Christmas, resulting in high inventory but very lean cash flow. ATB helped me analyze how much cash I would need to see me through the slower revenue seasons, and we set up a line of credit. This allows me to focus on building my business instead of stressing on how I am going to make payroll,” said Jacqueline Jacek, owner of the Sherwood Park-based business.

Watch this video for more from Holbrook on ATB’s commitment to Alberta entrepreneurs.

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