Small Business Loan Programs Trusted Lenders

Lender You Can Trust

I just had the opportunity to be featured in Impact Magazine, a publication by the Independent Community of Bankers in Minnesota (ICBM), to talk about our small business loan programs—and I am incredibly grateful for it. It may have been my face on the cover, but this article is genuinely about the impact our entire team makes on small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals like you each day.

With banking solutions tailored to you and a team of utmost professionals providing community-focused customer service, we take pride in the opportunity to be included. It means the hard work of our team is getting noticed, and I am proud of that.

Becoming a Small Business Loan Programs Powerhouse

With a long history of supporting small businesses, we made a strategic effort beginning in 2009 to become experts in loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Gregg Klohn, Senior Vice President and long-time 21st Century Bank Lending Officer, led that initiative and built a good foundation for 21st to build on, as it has expanded to the very top of the list in recent years.    Having achieved incremental growth milestones from 2009 – 2014, we have hit a critical stride over the last three to five years, with Klohn being a crucial ingredient to 21ST’s  SBA results today.

Despite the adversities of 2020 — 21st Century Bank maintained its #1 third-party lender (TPL) status for SBA 504 loans in MN for the third year in a row, and we are #3 MN SBA 7(a) lender for the second year.  I am incredibly proud of this designation because we have been able to outpace banks more than 20 times our size.

The 21st Century Bank Team: The Key to Our Success

One key to our success is the knowledge and experience of our Lenders, In-house SBA Operations team, and the strong relationships we have built with our strategic partners. A few individuals stand out as “essential ingredients” in both our SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 small business loan programs:

·         Blair Oklobzija, Market President

·         John Thwing, Market President, aka “The SBA Guy”

·         Gregg Klohn, Senior Vice President

·         John Hicks, Senior Vice President

·         Ryan Sundeen, Senior Vice President

·         Isaac Sandberg, Vice President

·         Paul Poncin, Vice President

·         Cheryl Casey, Vice President, SBA Division Manager

·         Sheil Nelson, Senior Loan Officer at Twin Cities Metro-Certified Development Company (CDC)

Our SBA Team and External Partners Bolster Our Efforts to Ensure Customer Satisfaction

In addition to our lenders — our In-house SBA 7(a) Operations team, led by SBA VP Division Manager Cheryl Casey, work together with a talented group of credit, loan preparation, and servicing professionals. SBA 504 loans require us to partner with a Certified Development Company (CDC). Each team plays a role in delivering the SBA loan programs, ensuring quick processing times and exceptional service.

As outlined in the Impact article, we partner with Certified Development Companies (CDCs) on SBA 504 loan programs. These organizations, in turn, support our efforts to supply SBA 504 loans to small businesses across our region. Those collaborations, especially with Sheil Nelson, Senior Loan Officer at Twin Cities Metro (TCM)-Certified Development Company (CDC), are vital to our success. TCM and Nelson have been great partners of 21st Century Bank for over 15 years – since the first SBA 504 loan I originated.

Over the years, we have become one of Sheil’s and TCM’s top bank clients. He gives us excellent service, which we are grateful for, and his deal skills paired with the deal skills of our Lending Officers is why 21st Century Bank has a competitive advantage over other SBA 504 lenders. The strength of our partnership relies on both teams working at a high level, ensuring a seamless transaction for the customer.

Is Your Business Ready to Talk SBA?

  • The SBA 7(a) loan program is an SBA program for providing financial assistance to small businesses. They are often used for non-real-estate transactions, including business startup, expansions, and acquisitions — and can give business owners access to working capital for growth, equipment finance, and more.
  • SBA 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing of up to $5 million for major fixed assets that promote business growth and job creation.  Most often, this is the recommended product for Owner Occupied building acquisition by 21st Century Bank—but note that there is a small percentage of situations where an SBA 7(a) loan can be the preferred product to purchase real estate.


With that, I invite you to read the Impact story to see how an SBA 504 loan impacted two local small business owners, E & M Manufacturing, Inc and Bao Vang.

And when you are ready for a locally owned and operated bank to provide you tailored banking solutions and community-focused customer service, give us a call.

Send Us An Inquiry

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