Q&A with David Glasgow

In 2023, David Glasgow was appointed Tennessee District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Glasgow, with over 30 years of experience, has had a diverse career in economic and community development. Originally planning to practice law in East Tennessee after moving from Alabama in 1989, Glasgow’s path shifted in 1996 to a role at the Tennessee Film and Music Commission in Nashville. This position marked the beginning of a journey through various state and federal roles. Key highlights include serving on the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative for the White House and participating in the WestStar regional leadership program at the University of Tennessee at Martin.


What are your initial observations regarding the small business ecosystem in Tennessee, and what opportunities and challenges do you foresee for these businesses?

It’s an exciting time in Tennessee because of the sustained growth in business opportunities. We’ve been blessed with savvy lending institutions and business-minded leadership at the state level for a long time now. We’re fortunate to have had equally business-minded leaders in many cities and counties across the state. The Nashville and Middle Tennessee area enjoys a sophisticated small business ecosystem with a lot of depth that rivals the best in the country and offers amazing resources for all kinds of businesses. Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri-cities are also growing impressive resources to support small business development, and I like the way they are each building robust networks around their local resources to generate opportunities and support job growth that lasts. Many smaller communities are also capitalizing on local strengths. That kind of local-lead development makes a community interesting and uniquely attractive for people and small businesses looking to relocate from other parts of the country, which is an opportunity and strength in itself.


In the current economic environment, what do you see as the key initiatives and offerings of the SBA that can enhance financial support for small businesses in Tennessee?

Lenders are a critical partner in the SBA ecosystem, along with our SCORE business mentors and the Small Business Development Centers. I think the big thing for lending partners right now is the recent revamping of our loan programs. Change is hard when it happens, and our lender relations team is investing time and energy so they can guide our lending partners as questions come up. SBA leadership has been listening and working to streamline and simplify processes with the goal of making it easier, so more lenders have capacity to participate, and our existing lending partners have capacity to expand their portfolios. The two new rules and SOPs are a huge transformation in the way we do business, simplifying loans $500k and below and $50k and below. We know many businesses benefit from small dollar loans, yet they often have the biggest barriers and the fewest lender options. The other big recent positive change is SBA’s fee relief on 7a and 504 loan. Zero fees for loans of $1 million and below this fiscal year, that runs through September 30, 2024, can save a borrower thousands of dollars on fees that they can instead use to strengthen and grow their business.


Collaboration between the SBA and financial institutions is essential for the success of small businesses, and Tennessee is fortunate to have a strong lender relations team at your office. How do you plan to strengthen these collaborative efforts, ensuring that banks play a pivotal role in this ecosystem?

In Tennessee we’re fortunate to have one of the most experienced SBA lender relations teams in Lisa Denson and Maria Lloyd, and it’s a priority for me to use the rest of our District resources to support their work as we move forward. While banks are accustomed to regulatory change, we know frequent changes out of Washington create challenges. The recent changes in our loan programs are intended to make SBA lending easier for lenders and businesses, and we’re working to make the learning curve as flat as possible.


Looking ahead, what is your vision for the SBA in Tennessee, and what do you want bankers to know about what they can expect from their experience in working with the SBA to leave a lasting positive impact on the state’s economic landscape?

The partnership that Lisa and Maria have developed with the Tennessee Bankers Association is priceless. I’m looking forward to deepening those ties to ensure SBA hears and responds to the needs of lenders in communities across Tennessee. My door is open, and I look forward to working with you to empower small business owners across the state to start, grow and flourish—for their families, employees, and the health of their communities. Every business lender is part of the sustained economic success in our state.

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