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CoC board meeting with local banks over difficulties of getting small business loans

The Chamber of Commerce’s executive board is expressing concerns from the private sector over the difficulties they continue to face in getting small business loans which are guaranteed by a federal government program. The board has initiated meetings with the three local banks to see what can be done.

This was one of the Chamber issues cited by Chamber chairman David Robinson during last week’s general membership meeting held at Sadie Thomson Inn. He said that at a previous Chamber meeting, the membership discussed a program from the federal government which offered a guarantee for small business loans by the local banks. He didn’t identify the loan program.

“And as a result of that discussion, there were quite a lot of comments regarding the two retail banks in town and probably the Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS) — to a certain extent — about the difficulties some people were experiencing getting small business loans,” said Robinson.

So the board decided to write to the two banks, which they did, and have met with director of one, with plans to meet with the other later this week “to see whether we can produce an information document... that would help the business community, small businesses particularly, to access ways to the procedures... to look at the possibility of being granted business loans,” he said.

Thereafter, the Chamber may hold a meeting with the bosses of the two banks and the general membership for a question and answer session, the CoC chairman said.

Responding to Samoa News questions for further comment, Robinson said that he had written to the two banks “requesting a meeting to have a better understanding of their current lending policies, and explore ways that might assist small businesses and entrepreneurial business people wishing to start up a new commercial enterprise.”

He said the board met with Hobbs Lowson with the Bank of Hawai’i and “we had a very informative discussion centered round the rules of the bank in accepting people and company requests for loans.” (Lowson is a former vice chairman of the Chamber.)

The board will meet this week with ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank’s chief executive officer,  and then with DBAS. “After these meetings we shall issue a statement outlining the issues of loans and invite the three organizations (banks) to address the Chamber at a general members meeting to explain in more detail the criteria and the process that each of them have within their respective organizations,” he said.

During last Thursday’s Chamber meeting, Robinson also announced that plans are in the works for the annual Chamber Business Award and the board is looking at the first week of December for the banquet “which has become a popular annual event” to be held at the Governor Rex Lee Auditorium.

He also revealed that the Chamber is working with the American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau on a brochure that identifies each specific type of business currently operating in the territory.