Chase bank plans to add more than two dozen small business bankers to the San Fernando Valley this year, as it ramps up small business lending by 20 percent to $12 billion nationwide. The company also said it will open 12 new bank branches in the Valley region this year, a move that will create another 140 to 175 jobs. Chase is the second major bank to tout an increase in small business lending in recent months. Bank of America made a similar announcement last month, and Wells Fargo says it’s also freeing up more money for small business owners. While the banks do not disclose loan information by region, representatives for each company say they are lending more to small businesses in the San Fernando Valley. Banks are starting to make additional money available to credit-worthy borrowers, said Warren Cooley, vice president of operations for the Valley Economic Development Center. When banks begin to “loosen up,” it gives companies more confidence to hire additional employees, which helps to spur economic growth, Cooley said. “They uptick the payroll, hire a few more people, and that’s how it (the economy) begins to build,” he said. Helping with the economic recovery is the major push behind the increase in small business lending, said Sue Baaden, head of Chase Business Banking in California. Chase plans to hire about 25 small business specialists across the Valley to handle the additional loan activity, company spokesman Gary Kishner said. Of the 12 banks scheduled to open this year, three banks are located in Simi Valley and the rest are in Glendale, Lancaster, Monrovia, Palmdale, Oxnard, Saugus, Valencia, Van Nuys and Thousand Oaks. “The commitment is to help businesses recover and put more people back to work,” Baaden said. Other banks are competing for the same opportunity. Bank of America has hired 22 small business bankers in the San Fernando Valley region since January, according to Lynn Fernandez, the company’s regional executive for small business banking in the Pacific Southwest. The bank plans to hire more than a dozen others by the end of the year, she has said. Bank of America recorded a total of $92 billion in small business loans nationwide last year, an increase of $10.5 billion from 2009. Wells Fargo has increased its small business loan commitments by 27 percent in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. The new loans total about $3.7 billion, said Bryan Moeller, Wells Fargo’s director of small business banking in the Greater Los Angeles region. In order for a bank to be successful, the community needs to be successful, Moeller said. “It’s hard to thrive as a bank when the community is not thriving,” Moeller said. “What we hope to achieve is helping the community and businesses here.” Small companies across the San Fernando Valley say they’ve noticed banks are making an effort to support small business growth. Marc Levine, who owns Levine Law Firm in Woodlands Hills, praised the service he received at Wells Fargo. “The people that got me my loan were excellent and did it in a timely manner,” Levine said, noting the bank completed his loan in less than 30 days. He used the funds to purchase a small commercial office building at 5350 Topanga Canyon Blvd., where he operates his law firm and rents space to other lawyers. Chase customer Yair “Jerry” Greenburg said he’s had a successful relationship with the bank since 2008. “It is definitely clear to me that Chase is willing to work with small businesses and help them,” said Greenburg, owner of Yafa Pen Company in Canoga. Greenburg received a loan from Chase to expand his office space. “I hope there is no change (in service), so that we can keep this relationship going,” he said.