Heritage Bank of Nevada, which has a branch in south Gardnerville, has been named the No. 1 Small Business Administration lender for 2012 in Northern Nevada as the largest processor of SBA 504 loans. In fiscal year 2012, Heritage Bank partnered with Nevada State Development Corp. to provide funding on 15 projects totaling $22 million. Heritage Bank’s portion of the loans totaled $9.8 million, and the SBA’s 504 loans totaled $8.2 million. The SBA 504 program is designed to grow small business and increase jobs, the bank said in a press release. Loans are made for purchasing or refinancing commercial real estate that is business-owner occupied. Up to 90 percent is used for financing the purchase of owner-occupied commercial real estate or equipment. The loans are required by the state to create new jobs. “We continue to focus on the small to mid-size businesses in Northern Nevada and find ways to help them with programs including the SBA loan program,” said Stan Wilmoth, president and CEO of Heritage Bank. “In many cases the buyer is reducing costs, improving location or adding square footage. The low 10 percent down payment allows business owners to retain capital and create jobs. Below-market interest rates make the purchase of a building more affordable. A fixed interest rate for 20 years with no balloon payments stabilizes occupancy costs.”“Faster approval at SBA, typically three business days, enables us to close SBA loans within 45 days,” added Mark McKibben, vice president and senior loan officer at Heritage Bank. “Our customers appreciate quick response with a prequalification response within 24 hours of our receiving financial information.“Because banks get a 50 percent loan-to-value first lien on the building, the result for the borrower is typically a lower blended interest rate. And with higher SBA loan limits, we can assist businesses with large projects. With the SBA lending program, properties that may be difficult to finance with conventional lending may be eligible through the SBA 504 program. And our local partnership gives customers access to their lenders.”Wilmoth said neighborhoods benefit from increased economic development and additional jobs.“And we can all appreciate the fact that taxpayers are not affected as no tax dollars are used to fund the 504 loan program,” he said. For more information on the loan program, visit www.sba.com.Second AmericanFamily Insuranceoffice opens in MindenGardnerville resident Mark Smith has opened a second office of American Family Insurance on Ironwood Drive in Minden.“Both myself and my associate, Nancy Gesselman, are long-time residents of the Valley,” Smith said in a press release. “We are familiar with the people and the needs of the Valley. “Together, Nancy and I have over 25 years of insurance experience. We pride ourselves on our friendly, no-pressure approach to helping people protect their lives and dreams.”The new office offers multi-line insurance, including home, auto, health, life, commercial and farm/ranch policies.Smith has previous business experience managing Ernst Home & Nursery for eight years, Office Depot for eight years, and Carson Valley Garden & Ranch for four years.Located at 990 Ironwood Drive, Suite 100, Minden, American Family Insurance’s regular business hours are 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.For more information, call 782-2526.WISE to meet inMinden Jan. 24Women Inspiring Service and Education will be holding their monthly meeting and luncheon on Jan. 24 at Carson Valley Inn in Minden.The monthly meeting is an opportunity for members and guests to meet, greet, and network. In addition to lunch, it features a speaker or an activity designed to help members and businesses grow. This month’s roundtable activity will focus on “staying inspired.” The member of the month is Brooke Roberts, licensed aesthetician from Body Language Spa.Check-in time is 11-11:30 a.m. The meeting begins at 11:45 a.m. and ends promptly at 1 p.m. Cost is $17 for members, $20 for guests. Reservations are required by Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. To make reservations and pay at the luncheon, send name in an email to email@example.com with “WISE RSVP” as the subject, or visit www.nvwise.org.For more information, contact Vanessa Littrell, WISE president, at (775) 309-6552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Small farm conferencemeets growing demandNevada’s agricultural industry is growing, and so is the annual Nevada Small Farm Conference. The conference set for Feb. 21-23 has moved from Fallon to a larger venue — John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, for the many workshops and seminars being offered, along with a Friday night social mixer.The conference will cover a variety of topics, including livestock and poultry production, hoop houses, agritourism, organic farming, local food systems, business planning and more. Preconference workshops will offer insight about the growth of Nevada agriculture, according to conference coordinator Ann Louhela of Western Nevada College. Topics will include commercial hops production, seed starting and saving, value-added production, and small farm business planning.“Nevada has an ideal climate for hops, barley and seeds,” Louhela said. “Processing raw product into value-added products offers opportunity for year-round sales. These enterprises have potential for growth and job creation. Many people don’t understand that agriculture creates jobs off the farm as well as on it.”For more information, or to register, visit www.wnc.edu/sci or contact Louhela at (775) 351-2551.