NFIB California Podcast with James Beckwith of Five Star Bank

Date: August 31, 2021

President and CEO looks back at the PPP loan process and ahead to the new ways of doing business

Coming up on the first anniversary of the NFIB California podcast series, State Director John Kabateck interviews the very first guest in the series, James Beckwith, president and CEO of Five Star Bank.

The first question Beckwith was asked is what’s been learned from the fits and starts the Paycheck Protection Program got off to more than a year ago. Beckwith said the loan program that kept many American businesses alive was “a bit like flying an airplane and building it at the same time.”

Still, the program turned out to be “pretty effective,” according to Beckwith, and that “we learned a lot” and will be much better prepared should we ever have to go through it again. Highlights from the 30-minute interview include:

  • SBA Forgiveness Portal—Beckwith recommended small-business owners still work through their banks, which “still have to look at the application whether it’s through the portal or not. I want somebody to look at.” This, according to him, will help prevent any back-and-forth applicants might have to go through with the SBA.

  • Capital Available—“Banks are flush with cash right now,” said Beckwith. “The liquidity conundrum is an opportunity for small business because we’re so flush with liquidity, more so than I’ve ever seen in my career … If you’re looking for some capital, reach out to your local bank.”

  • Vaccinations—Beckwith said getting vaccinated is personal choice, but “not being vaxed has a direct impact on our economy. Think about it from a business perspective. If we have to shut down and close things down more than we are right now, it doesn’t help small business. It doesn’t help that restaurant that can’t make money at 25% occupancy. Think about your impact that you have on your fellow citizen, your fellow small-business people by that decision to be vaxed or not.”

  • Innovation—The pandemic-forced adjustments to businesses “really accelerated everything digital,” said Beckwith. “Anybody that pivoted and started using any type of digital connection or digital way of providing service to the customers ended up being a winner.”

  • Small Business—“It’s such a profound force of good in America … One of the wonderful things I get to do is … to be part of that success. I’m not the hero, the hero is the small-business person that’s taking the risks, that’s putting themselves on the line every day to serve their customers and their employees grow. Those are the folks that are the heroes.

Other topics Beckwith touched on were interest rates, SBA 7(a) loans, and working from home (“This movement is going to spur small business). Click the arrow below to listen to the podcast. Click here to see all of NFIB California’s previous podcasts.

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