Commercial lending experience always matters — especially now

Lewis & Clark Development Group’s Brent Ekstrom, Matt Burthold, and Tracy Whitney are among a handful of the most experienced commercial lending and economic development finance professionals in North Dakota. But, during the last six weeks, more and more small businesses have been relying on the trio’s expertise to navigate the confusing array of emergency programs and resources to help get them through the economic hardship wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Perspective is always important and it’s important to remember no one alive has ever gone through anything like this,” says LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstrom.

“This is new for everyone but what’s not new is our familiarity with the range and scope of small business programs and that’s been a critical advantage for our clients.”

From the beginning of the crisis, LCD Group’s Small Business Assistance Team have been staying informed about new developments in order to assist clients. And even though LCD Group’s offices are closed to the public, the trio has been busy working from home answering questions and providing services. 

U.S. Small Business Administration Emergency Loan Programs

Tracy Whitney, LCD Group’s SBA 504 Loan Officer, says most of the activity for the last six weeks has been related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Even though these are bank-driven programs, LCD Group has been been fielding many questions related to them.

“As most of our current SBA 504 Loan customers have applied for relief from these two programs, they only know one source of SBA contact and that’s us,” states Whitney, who called the SBA emergency programs’ complexities and slow roll out of regulatory guidance “a perfect storm.”

LCD Group’s SBA 504 Loan recipients and banks across the state have struggled to get applications processed. Whitney observes they’ve done it all with little insight from the SBA.

“This is where we are drawing from our many years of experience in order to provide some degree of reassurance and certainty. We are offering guidance where little guidance has been given,” says Whitney. “The assistance we’re providing to customers and non-customers, I think, speaks volumes about how well Lewis and Clark Development Group is viewed across the state.” 

North Dakota Opportunity Fund Disaster Loan Assistance Program

For his part, LCD Group Commercial Lending Director Matt Burthold is the point person on the North Dakota Opportunity Fund (NDOF). Within the first days of businesses closing down, the NDOF Steering Committee met to develop and approve a disaster loan assistance program. Impacted businesses located in the Fund’s 39 consortium communities can apply for loans to cover working capital. 
“The goal of the North Dakota Opportunity Fund Disaster Assistance Program is to provide the short-term bridge financing for small businesses while they await funding from the SBA, either through the PPP or EIDL programs,” says Burthold.

“Both the Steering Committee, in its quick action to provide the NDOF Disaster Assistance Program, and the NDOF Loan Committee, in having the flexibility to meet frequently to review applications for disaster financing, have significantly helped small businesses meet their needs,” Burthold adds.

So far, Burthold reports ten businesses filed completed NDOF Disaster Assistance Program applications. A total of $229,000 in assistance has been awarded to businesses located in Bismarck, Mandan, Fargo, Williston, and Linton. Burthold did note some applications were incomplete and those businesses have been notified as to what is needed to complete the application process.

Experience You Can Trust

Unfortunately, the pandemic has also provided an opportunity (as if any were needed) for scammers. Some groups are claiming to offer small business lending services and, sadly, some businesses are taking them at face value and getting hurt in the process.

LCD Group is a fully licensed money broker (North Dakota Money Brokers License #: MB103454; NMLS I.D.: 1861711) with extensive experience and expertise to assist small businesses.

“Right now, small businesses need partners they can trust,” says Ekstrom. “Matt, Tracy, and I have 84 years of combined commercial lending experience that is at the service of every small business owner or manager who needs it.” 

Lewis & Clark Development Group’s Small Business Assistance Team

Brent Ekstrom – LCD Group Executive Director
(701) 667-7624 /

20 years of commercial lending experience
LCD Group Executive Director since 2014
Certified Economic Development Finance Professional, National Development Council; Professional Certificate in Community Economic Development, NeighborWorks America

Matt Burthold – LCD Group Commercial Lending Director
(701) 667-7601 /

LCD Group Commercial Lending Director since 2013 
35 years of business development and commercial lending experience
Certifications: Economic Development Professional, National Development Council


Tracy Whitney – LCD Group SBA 504 Loan Program Officer
(701) 667-7602 /

29 years of commercial lending experience
LCD Group SBA 504 Loan Program Officer/Lender since 2007
Certifications: Economic Development Finance Professional, National Development Council