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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Loan Helps Longtime Firm Remain in Familiar Hands

When the founding owner of sign manufacturer CA Signs in Pacoima decided to retire, longtime employee and family friend Matt Miller stepped up to buy the company. One problem: Miller couldn’t finance the purchase. So Miller got in touch with the Valley Economic Development Center to inquire about Small Business Administration-subsidized funding, said Roberto Barragan, VEDC president. Barragan and his staff, working through their affiliate San Fernando Valley Financial Development Corp., managed to help Miller secure a business acquisition loan through Mission Valley Bank. The loan was approved through the State Loan Guarantee Program, administered by the state’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. The culmination of all of the efforts what all the parties say was nothing short of an 11th hour deal to save the business was celebrated under a makeshift tent set up outside CA Signs’ building on Oct. 18. Miller, Barragan, company employees and even a top state official were there despite the soggy, rainy weather. The occasion was a time to reflect on the what ‘could’ve beens’ if the loan didn’t go through and the ownership not transferred. “Other states are stealing California businesses,” said Barry R. Sedlik, the top state official, the undersecretary and senior advisor for economic development in the Schwarzenegger administration. A resident of nearby Pasadena, Sedlik told the gathered crowd of about 50: “We want to show this is the kind of program that makes sense certainly for an area like Pacoima that has its challenges.” Raul Bocanegra, who oversees economic development in the office of City Council President Alex Padilla, whose district includes Pacoima, was also on hand and added that “we continue to support the program.” Javier Duarte, who has worked at CA Signs for 21 years, the change in ownership didn’t mean as much as when orders slipped several years ago. “Few years ago we worked four days, there was a decrease in work,” Duarte said. But things are now in an upswing, at least from his vantage point. “Everything is very good. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Duarte assured. Duarte said he wasn’t afraid the business would founder with the retirement of the previous owner, although he admitted the situation was unprecedented the business had the same owner since 1978. However nonchalantly, Duarte indicated it’s a good thing to have a familiar face at the helm of CA Signs. “He knows all the employees and we know him,” Duarte said. Since SFV-FDC began offering the State Loan Guarantee program in November 2001, more than 88 businesses have secured more than $18 million in financing, “which has in turn impacted over 800 local jobs,” according to VEDC Director of Lending Vladimir Victorio. “This program works,” he said in a statement. “It gives businesses a second chance to rebuild good working relationships with banks and allows them continued access to capital which is a great tool in keeping business in California.”

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