(Richmond, CA)—September 8, 2005—Mechanics Bank has been awarded Preferred Lender status by the Small Business Administration (SBA), adding another arrow to its quiver of financial services for businesses. The designation gives the bank the ability to provide faster loan decisions with less red tape.

Francine Boards, Vice President/SBA Loan Program Manager at The Mechanics Bank, said, “SBA lending is an important option for businesses that need essential working capital, funding to purchase equipment, cash to purchase inventory or the funds to finance commercial real estate or debt refinancing. Being able to process, close, service and support SBA guaranteed loans quickly—including granting loan approvals within 35 days—will greatly enhance our ability to serve customers.”

SBA Preferred Lender status is awarded to lenders based on the volume and quality of their prior SBA loans. It gives PLP lenders greater responsibility and authority to process loans, subject only to a brief eligibility review and assignment of a loan number by the SBA. According to Ms. Boards, approvals can be achieved in 35 days or less, compared to up to 60-90 days for non-preferred lenders.

“We’ve always thought that Mechanics Bank does a great job of serving the business community,” said Mark Quinn, SBA District Director for the San Francisco District. “The SBA Preferred Lender designation is an excellent fit for them, and will help us reach even more small businesses with our vital loan programs.”

Mechanics Bank’s Preferred Lender status complements several other steps the 100-year-old bank has taken in the past several years to expand its capabilities to assist small businesses. In 2004, it began accepting loan applications to The Mechanics Bank Community Development Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank that has allocated $26 million in funds designated for providing loans and financial counseling to qualifying businesses in low and moderate income areas where they operate. Additionally, the bank offers a unique package of highly personalized escrow services for small businesses—a service offered by very few banks in the region— helping oversee the ownership transfer of hundreds of small businesses annual

“We’re always looking for ways to reach further and move faster for our customers,” said Steve Buster, CEO and president of Mechanics Bank. “As a community bank, small businesses are a major focus for us. They are the backbone of the communities we serve. The SBA designation will help round out our comprehensive array of business products and services, adding to our value to these customers.”

For more information on Mechanics Bank’s SBA products and services, contact Scot Cunningham at (510) 262-7310.

Headquartered in Richmond, California, Mechanics Bank celebrates a century of innovative community banking this year. With almost $2.5 billion in assets, it has become one of the largest banks headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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