Thursday, May 19, 2011

Financial Services Champion of the Year goes to Rebecca MacBlane

News Release


Release Date: May 16, 2011 Contact: Janet Heyl (412) 395-6560, ext. 103

Release Number: PGH11-11

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Executive director who strives for lender education receives high marks from SBA as regional and local Financial Services Champion of the Year

PITTSBURGH – Each month, Rebecca MacBlane executive director of the Regional Development Funding Corporation, (RDFC) sends an email to approximately 650 Western Pennsylvania lenders and economic development organizations showcasing a borrower who has benefitted from a Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan.

This month, MacBlane, 52, became a story herself when she was selected as the SBA Region III Financial Services Champion of the Year and the Western Pennsylvania District SBA Financial Services Champion.

Like the other 68 district winners, her nomination was forwarded to her respective regional office -- in this case Region 3, which comprises 7 districts; Delaware, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia – where she became the regional winner.

MacBlane who holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in business administration spent some eight years overseeing SBA loans at local financial institutions before joining the ranks of a lending executive. “I originally got assigned to SBA lending because no one really wanted to do it,” she explained. “But, I found myself loving the details and the way SBA programs provide financing for persons that never would have gotten a loan.”

She recalled that her most exciting loan wasn’t for a big project or for a large dollar amount, but, rather for a woman starting her own upscale hair salon. “[The salon owner] was diligent and overcame a lot of challenges in her life…the odds were against her,” MacBlane added. “But, I fought like a pit bull for her because she completed everything I asked her to do and, now, when I visit her salon, I look around and smile at her success.”

In fact, MacBlane maintained she was so passionate about SBA lending that 10 years ago she opted to join the Western Pennsylvania Association of SBA-Guaranteed Lenders (WPASGL), an organization dedicated to providing training and information on SBA programs. MacBlane has served as president for the past three years and embraces the role.

“It’s a huge amount of work, but we make inroads,” she stated. “Lenders come to our training and walk out stating ‘I can do that.’”

MacBlane, who was chosen in 2006 to head RDFC, said she wanted to change the culture of non-profit lending. “I wanted to make it more competitive and I hope that I’ve been able to initiate more of a sales culture, where we focus on outreach,” she explained. “It’s helping lenders understand the programs and that it’s not too complicated.”

MacBlane believes the desire to educate centers on her background as a former elementary school teacher. “It’s about marketing the program to lenders letting them know how easy it is for banks and small business owners to partner with us and assemble a 504 Loan package.”

According to MacBlane she also utilized her training and email marketing strategy to compete with other 504 lenders for market share.

Her plan worked. In fiscal year 2010 RDFC doubled their loan and dollar-volume from 2009 and ranked second in dollar-volume in Pittsburgh SBA loan activity. The staff of three full-time and two part-time employees processed 18 loans for more than $11 million, which created more than 100 local jobs. RDFC was the only non-profit lender among the SBA Pittsburgh District’s top five SBA lenders.

According to Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, since arriving at RDFC MacBlane has posted large gains in the SBA’s 504 Loan Program. “Her leadership has enabled RDFC to capture such a high market share and they are on track to post incredible numbers again this year,” Knoblock said. “It’s pretty amazing when you consider they are a small, non-profit, economic development entity with a specialized concentration of utilizing only the 504 Loan Program.”

MacBlane and eight other local small business owners and advocates will be lauded at the Western Pennsylvania SBA May 27th Awards Luncheon which will be held at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh. The luncheon is held in conjunction with the 48th annual celebration of National Small Business Week. Once the festivities begin, the public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video on the Web at

“I am truly honored to receive the SBA’s Financial Services Champion of the Year Award, because throughout my career in SBA lending, I’ve always been an unwavering advocate of their programs,” she said. “I’ve made it my mission to help educate lenders that SBA loans really do help borrowers, financial institutions and spur economic growth in our region.”

Note: If you would like to speak with Rebecca MacBlane or Carl Knoblock, Western Pennsylvania SBA district director, please contact Janet Heyl at 412-395-6560, ext. 103

The U.S. Small Business Administration – helping small businesses start, grow and succeed.

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