Only four St. Clair County businesses have secured business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to Roderick Perkins, a lender relation specialist for the SBA.

“There should be more,” Perkins told members of the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce, meeting in their quarterly luncheon Thursday at The Brook Besor bookstore in Pell City. 

“My job is to build relationships with lenders,” said Perkins, who has more than 10 years in the banking industry. 

Perkins tries to encourage local banks to make guaranteed SBA loans to small businesses. 

“Our primary job is to grow businesses and create jobs,” he said.

He said SBA provides a voice for small business owners.

Perkins said SBA does not actually loan money to small businesses, but guarantees bank loans. 

“It’s up to the banks to provide the loans,” he said. 

Perkins said SBA works with new business owners or people wanting to start a new business, trying to inform clients what banks look for when lending money to a new business. 

“I typically do two-hour workshops,” he said. 

He helps prepare small business owners, so they are more likely to receive bank loans. 

“We do provide free business counseling,” Perkins said. 

Perkins said he tries to encourage businesses to diversify, and to look at possibly tapping into federal contracts. 

Erica Grieve, executive director for the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce, said SBA officials hold small business workshops at the chamber office each month.

For more information about the SBA workshops, call the chamber office at 205-338-3377.