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What Is A Certified Development Company (CDC)?

SBA Small Business Loan
Small Business Loans
May 6, 2021

If you’ve been looking for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, you’ve probably come across small business lenders like CDC Small Business Finance. These organizations are often referred to as a CDC which stands for “Certified Development Company.”  You’ve probably wondered, what is a Certified Development Company exactly, and why should you work with a CDC?

certified development companies At-A-Glance

  • Help small business owners get access to capital
  • Offer affordable and responsible financing for small businesses
  • More flexible than a bank
  • Job creation and retention
  • Community revitalization

Put simply, a Certified Development Company is a nonprofit organization that is certified by, but independent of, the Small Business Administration. CDCs offer responsible and affordable financing to small business owners and have more flexibility than a bank.  

A key point of difference between a CDC and other financial lending institutions, is being a nonprofit organization.  Working with a nonprofit brings great value to a small business borrower.  As a nonprofit, a CDC is focused on getting to know you and your business goals and matching you with the loan that will best support your long-term success. Unlike some traditional lenders, CDC Small Business Finance considers your whole story, not just a credit score or a financial statement or a bankruptcy. 

A CDC can offer several small business loan products, including SBA loans.  The most common SBA loans products are the SBA 504, SBA Community Advantage and SBA Microloan.  The SBA 504 loan is for purchasing commercial real estate. The SBA Community Advantage and SBA Microloan are for working capital needs which can include business acquisitions, refinancing high-interest debt, buying inventory, and tenant improvements.  

You may also hear a Certified Development Company referred to as a mission-based lender or an intermediary.  That’s because a CDC measures its success by fulfilling its mission to help a broad range of business owners including African American, Latino, women, veteran, and other minorities and those in low to moderate income neighborhoods to get financing for their businesses.  The result?  By helping business owners get the money they need to grow and expand their businesses, they in turn create jobs and contribute to revitalizing their community.

SBA Loans offered by CDC Small Business Finance:

SBA 504:

  • Purchase commercial real estate
  • Loan amount: $250,000 to upwards of $40M 

SBA Community Advantage: 

  • Working capital 
  • Loan amount: $20,000 to $250,000

SBA Microloan

    • Working Capital
    • Loan amount: Up to $50,000

Today’s Rates*

SBA 504

2.883 %

SBA 504

2.764 %

SBA 504

2.612 %

SBA 504

2.924 %

SBA 504

2.807 %

Small Business Loan

5% - 9.25 %

View SBA 504 Rate History
Apply now
For the SBA 504 Rates: Includes fees to CDC, SBA and central servicing agent; based on pricing published by NADCO 6-10-2021. The SBA 504 rates listed above are effective from June 6 - July 7, 2021.

What is a Certified Development Company’s Mission?

A Certified Development Company’s mission is often described as promoting economic development.  As mentioned above, economic development is simply programs that are designed to improve the economic wellbeing and quality of life of a community.  

The initiatives focus on helping to build local wealth, diversify the economy and to create and retain jobs.  When you work with a CDC you are partnering with an organization that is dedicated to investing in growing your local economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all residents. 

Additionally, CDCs also frequently work hard to help improve struggling communities that are historically underutilized business zones (also known as HUBZones). 

There are more than 200 Certified Development Companies in the US, each of which is licensed by the SBA to operate in specific areas. For example, as a Certified Development Company, we at CDC Small Business Finance operate in 3 states: California, Nevada, and Arizona plus Detroit, Mi and Washington DC, metro.  

We offer the SBA 504 commercial real estate loan in Arizona, Nevada, or California.

We offer working capital in California, Arizona, Nevada and Detroit, MI and Washington, DC.

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Cindy Cate, Hello Birdie Nail & Lash Lab

Why Certified Development Companies Exist (A Brief History)

Believe it or not, Certified Development Companies have been around for more than 60 years.

When the Small Business Investment Act passed in 1958, organizations called Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) popped up around the US. Licensed by the SBA, SBICs sought to help business owners navigate the sometimes daunting process of getting SBA loans. 

However, it quickly became clear that there were needs Small Business Investment Companies weren’t meeting, specifically in real estate financing and project financing for more established businesses.

So Certified Development Companies were created to help business owners access capital to purchase real estate or buildings, invest in heavy equipment, or upgrade their current buildings.


Advantages of Working with a Certified Development Company

CDCs are generally more flexible than a traditional bank.  They often have more lenient borrower requirements than conventional business loans.  CDCs are often willing to make loans to applicants who may have lower credit scores and would typically be declined by many banks.

At CDC Small Business Finance, we focus on your whole story, not just the numbers. We take that extra step to learn about you and your business so we can find you the financing that best matches your goals.

Karina Sanchez and Zach Weisman, owners of Waterhorse Charters, greatly benefitted from CDC Small Business Finance’s Business Advising Services headed up by Chuck Sinks. They have embraced the importance of building their financial knowledge to ensure their business thrives.


But perhaps the biggest advantage of working with an experienced Certified Development Company to get a loan is their focus on your long term success.

At CDC Small Business Finance, for example, we’ve been making an impact for small businesses in California, Nevada, and Arizona since 1978 and have provided over $21.3 billions in loans to over 12,000 small businesses and helped create and retain 214,000 jobs.

Business owners who get loans from us not only get affordable and responsible financing, but also get free business advising services from our team of experts and access to their invaluable network of resources and connections. 

As the number one CDC in the country, we have countless success stories, including JXR Constructors, Georgias Restaurant, and Wash My Dog.

restaurant-building-loan Play video

"As an immigrant, we came here with very little and we got the opportunity to work hard and open our own business. Now I look back and I am very happy and very thankful for being in this country."

Duke Huynh, Owner, Phở Ca Dao

The SBA 504 Commercial Real Estate Loan and CDCs

The SBA 504 loan involves the small business owner, a CDC and a bank.  The SBA 504 is used to purchase commercial real estate or heavy equipment.  

The top benefits of an SBA 504 loan are that it only requires the business owner to put 10% down, it is offered at a below market fixed rate and it comes in 10, 20 and 25 year terms. 

Here are several resources to learn more about the SBA 504:

Overview: SBA 504 Commercial Real Estate Loan

SBA 504 Eligibility

3 Reasons to Buy a Building

5 Ways an SBA 504 fits into a business strategy



Working Capital Loans

At CDC Small Business Finance, we also offer the SBA Community Advantage, SBA Microloan and other non-SBA working capital loan products. 

To see our working capital business loan rates visit our small business loan hub page here. You can be prequalified anywhere between 24-72 hours and the loan process itself can take anywhere from 4-6+ weeks. 

Here are several resources to learn more about our small business loans:

Overview: Small Business Loans

Small Business Loans FAQ

Small Business Loan Top Documents Checklist

Community Advantage Loan


How To Find A Certified Development Company Near You

Work with CDC Small Business Finance

If you are looking to work with CDC Small Business Finance and are in our service areas, click the links below. 

Get started on your loan application and talk to our team of experts here.


If you are outside of CDC Small Business Finance service areas, here are resources to find a lender:

Working Capital loan (outside of California, Arizona, Nevada, Detroit, Mi and Washington DC, metro):

If you are outside of our regions, we highly recommend checking out the Lender Match Tool from the SBA. The SBA tool will help you find an SBA lender in your area.  Want to know more about Lender Match?  Check out our article on how to use the SBA Lender Match Tool.


SBA 504 (outside of California, Arizona and Nevada):

Check out the Small Business Administration’s online resource that will help you find qualified SBA 504 lenders in your area.



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