When President Barack Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act last year, several changes were made to U.S. Small Business Administration export loan programs.
A temporary alternative size standard will allow several thousand additional small firms to qualify for SBA programs. Now, instead of only using North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and the number of employees or gross revenues to determine if a company is small, a firm will be deemed small if the maximum tangible net worth of the applicant is not more than $15 million and the average net income after federal income tax for the prior two years is not more than $5 million.
More importantly for exporters, the size of allowable Export Express loans has been increased from $250,000 to $500,000. In addition, lenders will receive a 90 percent guaranty on loans up to $350,000 and a 75 percent guaranty on loans up to $500,000.
Proceeds from this lender-expedited loan program can be used for market development expenses, such as foreign trade show participation, translation services and travel; export transaction costs and other working capital needs; or equipment, fixed assets and real estate. Some proceeds can be used for domestic operations. Applicants must have been in business for a least one year and demonstrate the loans will help the firms enter a new export market or expand in an existing export market.
The limit for loans under the SBA Export Working Capital Program has been increased from $2 million to $5 million, with a 90 percent guaranty to the lender.
Loans under this program can be set up to finance a single export transaction — one that might be larger than firms’ normal orders — or on a revolving line-of-credit basis to finance multiple transactions. For loans of 12 months or less, the guaranty fee is only 0.25 percent.
The collateral required is what is in the transaction: inventory, accounts receivable, work in process and an assignment of proceeds for letters of credit or credit insurance policies. Applicants must have at least one year of business operating history to qualify or prior exporting experience.
For companies that would like to expand their business because of growing export sales, or for those businesses that have been adversely affected by imports and need to retool to become competitive, the SBA International Trade Loan can now go up to $5 million as well, with a full 90 percent guaranty to the lender.
Loans combine both fixed-asset financing — which could be used for a building or equipment — and working capital, which can go as high as $4 million.
For more information on the resources available through SBA export loan programs, log on to the Web site at www.sba.gov/international or contact me by telephone or e-mail.
Dennis Chrisbaum is regional manager of the Export Solutions Group, U.S. Small Business Administration, based at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Denver. Reach him at (303) 844-6623 extension 218 or Dennis.Chrisbaum@sba.gov.