Venture capitalists, lawyers, and investment bankers prowled the first Inc. conference on financing rapidly expanding businesses.
But just one banker, Gerard Brandi, president and chief executive officer of the $848 million-asset Massbank for Savings in Reading, Mass., was on the list of attendees.
In fact, for a conference where small businesses were intent on finding new ways of financing growth, commercial banks were conspicuously absent, which shows how differently banks and other business service companies search for clients.
The conference, organized by the business magazine Inc. and sponsored by the shipping company UPS and the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, attracted nearly 200 small-business chief executives and finance officers.
UPS set up an exhibit booth, held a drawing for a charcoal grill set and $500 of shipping, and decorated the luncheon tables with sunflowers in cardboard boxes with UPS labels.
As for the law firm, Stephen Barrett, director of practice development, said, "We're here to meet clients and prospective clients and people who can help generate referrals.
"Everybody here needs a revolving credit line or a term loan or factoring on accounts receivable," Mr. Barrett said.
Financial companies at the conference included Dillon Read Venture Capital, the investment banking firm Sutro & Co., and the finance company Finova Group.
Linda Gitlin, director of Inc.'s conference group, said the banks sponsor one-day seminars that the magazine organizes in specific cities. But bankers do not attend the national conferences.
"The problem with banks is that they are regional and we have national conferences," Ms. Gitlin said. "We think the conferences could be a good opportunity for the superregionals."
Ernest Garfield, who organizes independent banks in the western states, attended the conference to learn methods for raising capital for start-up banks. He agreed that the conference could be useful for regional banks.
"At lunch, I sat in between two people who each needed $1 million loans," Mr. Garfield said. "I could see how this would be a great place to do business."