Wells Fargo Supports Georgia Small Biz in Post-Recession Economy

Lucy Adams

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Wells Fargo serves 2.9 million Georgians with deposits of $29.6 billion. The reach of Wells Fargo, however, extends far beyond the customers who use its 281 bank stores distributed across the state. The bank’s leaders and staff are committed to positively impacting the whole of Georgia’s economy through small business programs available both to customers and non-customers. “A healthy small business ecosystem equals a healthy community. A healthy community equals a healthy economy. In a healthy economy, many, many entrepreneurs will be successful,” says Sean Mabey, Senior Vice President and Director of Small Business Strategy for Wells Fargo in the Southeast. As a company, notes Mabey, financial literacy is the main focus.

The Wells Fargo Works for Small Business initiative, rolled out in April of this year, provides information and tools for entrepreneurs accessible online at www.wellsfargoworks.com. Articles and videos gleaned from reputable exterior sources cover topics such as finding seed money for a startup, deciding whether to rent or buy commercial space, legal considerations for small business owners, website design and more. Mabey explains, “It’s a dynamic source of education and resources. It’s a comprehensive portal we provide to small businesses whether they bank with us or not.”  Since its launch in April almost 3 million small businesses have visited and utilized the site.

In late 2014 or early 2015, two additional interactive business tools go live to complement the site’s current offerings. A market intelligence tool will enable small businesses to compare their strategies and practices to those of industry competitors. Using the tool, they can determine proper pricing for products or services, best places to advertise to their customer base, appropriate employee pay scales, and so forth.

A business planning tool is also scheduled to launch. “They will be able to build a customized, fully integrated business plan,” says Mabey. The idea is to aid entrepreneurs to take their business planning from reflexive to well-informed. He says, “Things like this help people make intelligent decisions when taking the next step to achieving their dreams.”

Nationally, Wells Fargo is the nation’s #1 small business lender and they have  committed to lend $100 billion to small businesses with 20 or fewer employees by 2018 and $55 billion by 2020 to female owned or operated businesses. Wells Fargo’s local footprint on Georgia is as impressive. In July, Wells Fargo sponsored the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s one-day workshop titled Women on the Rise: Female Entrepreneurs Leading the Way. For the past two years, Wells Fargo has sponsored Launchpad 2X, a three day boot camp of sorts for female entrepreneurs at various stages of the business lifecycle. Funding through Wells Fargo Foundation grants helps pay for scholarships to the Small Business Development Center’s Start Smart program.

In addition to this activity in support of small business, Mabey himself has contributed to discussions regarding the renovation of Atlanta’s historic Flatiron Building for the purpose of creating a small business incubator in Georgia’s capital city. “I’m very excited about the mayor of Atlanta’s focus on entrepreneurship. I’m very encouraged by my conversations with his office regarding the initiative,” says Mabey.

Serving the needs of small business clients that do their banking with Wells Fargo is integral to the commitment to build a strong small business ecosystem in each of these major Wells Fargo markets: Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Columbus and Macon. While outreach activities contribute to the Community and Knowledge portions of Wells Fargo’s four pillar approach to supporting small business, the Growth and Capital portions of this approach are directed at active clients in a face-to-face, hands-on atmosphere. Mabey says, “We strive to have one person in each of our stores educated and well-equipped to help small businesses.”

The business specialists emphasize maximizing cash flow in consultations with clients.  Accompanying the necessary deposit and credit products is a host of financial services targeting key aspects of conducting business from a cash flow perspective. Insurance, merchant services and payroll services top the list.

Every 12 seconds, a new business starts. Mabey and his Wells Fargo colleagues desire to ensure those businesses not only survive but flourish. They want to help established businesses reach the next level of success. “Everyone needs financial services and products,” he says, “but they also need advice and knowledge and when you put the two together it is a powerful thing.” Wells Fargo takes both approaches to serving small business in this post-recession economy.