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September 17, 2013

Portland businessman launches lending services firm

Bill Whitmore, co-owner of a Portland fitness center franchise, is launching a commercial lending firm eyeing small businesses.

Whitmore says his Gold Beacon Capital has a few early clients and is still looking for downtown Portland office space, where his firm will provide small businesses help in accessing capital.

Whitmore says he's staking out distinction for his firm based on his experience building a small business and in providing a single point of contact for small business owners navigating a variety of lending and funding options. WhitCo Properties, which he co-owns, started and sold Planet Fitness franchises in Maine and still owns a World Gym location in Portland.

Whitmore says the firm will target small businesses doing between $1 million and $10 million in revenue and that he anticipates his network of lenders, loan programs, venture capital and other funding sources will be able to cater to deals up to $100 million.

While the overall economy is improving, Whitmore says it remains difficult for small firms to find the funding they need to build their company and he hopes to tap into that market.

For that reason, he says, he doesn't see his firm competing with banks and credit unions.

"I think we're complementary to them," Whitmore says. "They have many restrictions on them and they're a lot tighter than some of the people I deal with."

Whitmore says he's working to develop a network of banks that will provide referrals to his firm for clients they turn down for loans. He's also opening the business to affiliate brokers who can earn a cut of deals they refer into his network.

Whitmore says his firm will take its payments only when deals are completed.

Whitmore is the sole employee of the firm now but he says he plans to hire two additional people, one to handle early review of potential clients and another to provide support assistance for background paperwork necessary to the lending process.

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