SBA-backed lendig activity rebounds

Financing under loan programs backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration rebounded in the 2010 fiscal year under provisions of federal stimulus legislation that increased guarantee levels and waived fees.

The SBA reported that a total of 54,833 loans worth a collective $22 billion were backed through its two primary lending programs during FY 2010, which ended Sept. 30. That compares to 47,897 loans worth a combined $17 billion that were approved in FY 2009.

The number of loans issued in FY 2010 increased 14 percent over the previous fiscal year, while the total dollar volume of loans increased nearly 30 percent. Weekly loan volume in FY 2010 averaged $333 million, an increase of 29 percent.

Statistics for SBA financing activity in Colorado and Mesa County weren’t yet available as of press time for the Grand Valley Business Times.

Although the SBA does not make direct loans, the federal agency’s guarantee authority enables commercial lenders and certified development companies to make loans to small business they might otherwise not have made. The SBA backs most of its loans through its 7 (a) general lending program and 504 program to finance real estate and equipment.

The number and dollar volume of loans backed by the SBA dropped during FY 2009 as the recession slowed loan demand and lending standards tightened. But SBA-backed lending activity picked up after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted in February 2009. Provisions of the legislation raised the guarantee on 7 (a) loans to 90 percent and waived fees on 7 (a) and 504 loans.

“The success of those loan enhancements has meant tens of thousands of small businesses have been able to get the capital they needed to not just survive the recession, but to grow and create much-needed jobs in communities across America,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

Provisions of the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act enacted in September sets the 7 (a) and 504 loan guarantees at 90 percent and reduces fees for those programs. In addition, the new law permanently increases maximum loan sizes to $5 million for the 7 (a) program, $5.5 million for the 504 program and $50,000 for the micro loan program. The maximum loan size was temporarily increased to $1 million for the SBA Express Loan program.

The new legislation also created the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which will allocate $17.2 million to Colorado. By matching every dollar of federal funding with $10 in private financing, the initiative will support up to $172 million in lending.

“This new lending program — coupled with the Colorado Credit Reserve Program — will help drive our economy forward and give small businesses the kind of support they need to survive and thrive,” said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

The Colorado Credit Reserve Program was revived in 2009 to use state funds to leverage private-sector lending for small businesses.

Over the past year, the program has awarded 167 loans worth a total of $5.24 million.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative was modeled in part after the Colorado program and allocates a total of $1.5 billion in federal funds to states to support up to $150 billion in financing.

“These funds will provide vital support to successful state-level programs that help local entrepreneurs obtain the credit they need to put more Americans back to work,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner.