Cape Bank is no longer a place to go for a home mortgage, but it’s the hot spot for businesses looking for loans or credit, according to Small Business Administration figures.

The SBA New Jersey District Office recently gave Cape Bank its 2013 Breakthrough Lender Award for dramatically improving the number and volume of its SBA loans to small businesses.

In 2012, Cape Bank approved just two such loans. Last year the number jumped to 11 loans for a combined $4.7 million.

The bank, based in Cape May Court House, is the product of the 2008 combination of Cape Savings Bank there and Linwood-based Boardwalk Bank, so it has a strong presence in Atlantic County.

The district office said Cape Bank had the most SBA loans (five) and the largest loan volume ($3.3 million) in Atlantic County for the 10 months ended July 31, 2013.

“We’ve been aggressive in letting the community know that Cape Bank is lending, and this award is further proof and a great testament to Cape Bank’s willingness to put our financial resources to work throughout South Jersey,” Michael Devlin, president and CEO, said in a statement.

The bank’s push in business lending coincides with its decision last year to quit writing loans for home purchases.

Commenting on that change in the bank’s report of its 2013 results at the end of January, Devlin said: “Management also made the difficult decision to exit the residential mortgage loan origination business. This had been an important business segment for most of our 90-year history, but management believed changes within the industry required a scale of operations that we would not be able to profitably deliver. Further, we believe that exiting this business segment will serve to improve interest rate risk management and we expect to realize a reduction in operating expenses in 2014.”

The top SBA lender by number of loans in New Jersey for the third consecutive year was JPMorgan Chase, which is also the nation’s largest bank. It made 136 SBA loans worth a combined $25 million in 2013.

Second was TD Bank of Cherry Hill with 113 loans worth $30.4 million.

Al Titone, SBA district director for New Jersey, said 1,162 loans with a total value of $634 million were made last year.

Knotted up

The popular wedding magazine The Knot and its online site have announced The Knot Best of Weddings list for 2014 and I’m happy to report that almost everyone is a winner.

In just this region, there are 16 wedding venues that are the best. They include: One Atlantic, Atlantic City; Golden Inn Hotel, Avalon; the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club, Beach Haven; Laguna Grill and Rum Bar, Brigantine; Chalfonte Hotel, Congress Hall and Hotel Alcott, all in Cape May; the Carriage House, Ram’s Head Inn, the Smithville Inn and Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, all in Galloway Township; Sand Barrens Golf Club, Middle Township; the Flanders Hotel and Ocean City Yacht Club, both in Ocean City; Running Deer Golf Club, Pittsgrove; and Greate Bay Country Club, Somers Point.

That seems to dilute the concept of best, even if it does generate more potential magazine and online ad revenue from selected venues.

Not to worry. XO Group Inc., the corporation behind the Knot empire, has created a new and better best category, the Best of Weddings Hall of Fame. To make that, venues and vendors need to get on the best list at least four times. Currently, only the Flanders in Ocean City makes that grade (but be patient … the whole Knot has been around less than 20 years).

The Knot says the lists reflect ratings by “real brides” — who register with the site and self-identify as brides.

But this being the Internet, the veracity of reviewers and reviews is always going to be a question. Just last fall, 19 firms paid fines to New York State and agreed to stop posting fake reviews after being accused of false advertising and deceptive business practices.

And there are legitimate consultants who help businesses maximize their positive reviews by identifying their happiest customers and making sure they’re much more likely to submit a review. That’s deemed ethical — but can turn a best-of list into an indicator of which businesses are paying for review optimization.

Contact Kevin Post:

609-272-7250

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.