A Partnership that Works: MWSBF & USBLF

When Steve Grizzell, acting executive director for Utah Small Business Loan Fund (USBLF) told his board members in 2018 he was ready to retire, the task at hand became obvious – find someone to take over the entity’s portfolio.

“We’d known Steve (Grizzell) for a long time,” explains Steve Suite, who was named USBLF executive director earlier this year. By “we,” Suite refers to the leadership team at Mountain West Small Business Finance (MWSBF), where Suite previously served as MWSBF’s chief administrative officer for 28 years). Suite joined USBLF’s Board in 2019, and then was named executive director in January of 2020.

While not typically a household name, Mountain West Small Business Finance is actually the largest Small Business Administration lender in Utah by loan volume–and has been for years. MWSBF partners with banks, credit unions and lending institutions through the SBA 504 and Community Advantage Loan programs. And they’ve been providing small business loans for the last 40 years.

With that kind of experience, Grizzell believed that Mountain West could provide the right solution for USBLF — both in terms of leadership and where to take their portfolio.

So, in 2019, USBLF entered into a partnership with MWSBF. Mountain West would handle USBLF’s marketing/loan origination, closing and servicing. The USBLF Board would continue to be responsible for policy, overview and strategic direction. MWSBF would further diversify their lending portfolio with USBLF’s three revolving loan funds. Suite joined the USBLF Board at that time to help with the transition.

“Overall, what the partnership means for USBLF, is a better product for our customers,” said Suite. “Access to MWSBF’s loan origination and servicing departments means USBLF is now a stronger organization. We’re leveraging expertise and economies of scale for small business lending on a level that simply could not be duplicated without the collaboration. Both MWSBF and USBLF have a mission to support economic development, and this partnership is key to growing that mission.