Wednesday, October 21, 2009

President Obama Announces New Small-Business Lending Initiatives

This afternoon, President Barack Obama [pictured above with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and SBA Administrator Karen Mills], announced his proposal to boost lending support of small businesses, so as to promote even further business expansion and job creation.

Speaking from Metropolitan Archives, a small records-storage business based in Landover, Md., President Obama reflected on the heretofore impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; outlined specifics of his proposed lending initiatives; and provided a sneak preview of a small-biz-focused conference that Geithner and Mills will convene in the near future.

"Over the past decade and a half, America's small businesses have created 65 percent of all new jobs in the country," Obama noted. "And more than half of all Americans working in the private sector are either employed by a small business or own one -- more than half. These companies are the engine of job growth in America. They fuel our prosperity. And that's why they have to be at the forefront of our recovery.

"The problem is, our small businesses have been some of the hardest hit by this recession. From the middle of 2007 through the end of 2008, small businesses lost 2.4 million jobs. And, because banks shrunk from lending in the midst of the financial crisis, it's been difficult for entrepreneurs to take out the loans they need to start a business. For those who do own a small business, it's been difficult to finance inventories and make payroll, or expand if things are going well.

"And that's why we made sure the Recovery Act focused on helping small businesses expand and create jobs. In it, we temporarily reduced or eliminated fees on SBA loans -- loans that give small businesses more money to reinvest in their own futures. And we guaranteed some of these loans by up to 90 percent, which has given local banks and credit unions the confidence they need to lend.

"In the last eight months, these steps have made a real difference for small businesses across America. So far, the Recovery Act has supported over 33,000 loans to small businesses that have already helped save or create nearly tens of thousands of jobs -- nearly $13 billion in new lending -- $13 billion. And more than 1,200 banks and credit unions that had stopped issuing SBA loans when the financial crisis hit are lending again today. And more than $4.3 billion in federal contracts are now going to small businesses.

"We're also providing tax relief to small businesses under the Recovery Act -- relief that will give these businesses back over $5 billion this year. And we're giving tax cuts directly to 95 percent of working Americans, which includes the vast majority of small-business owners and their employees.

"So there's no question that our Recovery Act has given a boost to every American who works at a small business, or owns one, or aspires to own one. There's no question that the steps we've taken have improved the overall climate for small business across the country.

"But there's also no question that we've got a long way to go. There's still too little credit flowing to our small businesses. There's still too many entrepreneurs who can't get the loans they need to open up their doors and start hiring. There's still too many who are struggling to make payroll and to stay open. And there's still too many successful small businesses that want to expand further and hire more but just don't have the capital to do it."

Specifically, President Obama called for:

* Increasing the size of SBA’s 7[a] loan from $2 million to $5 million;

* Increasing the size of SBA’s 504 loan from $2 million to $5 million for standard borrowers [supporting a total project of $12.5 million], and from $4 million to $5.5 million for manufacturers [supporting a total project of $13.75 million]; and

* Increasing the size of SBA’s Microloan from $35,000 to $50,000.

"Finally," President Obama added, "I've asked Tim Geithner and Karen Mills to convene a conference in the coming weeks that will bring together regulators, congressional leaders, lenders and small businesses to determine what additional steps we can take to get credit flowing to small businesses that want to expand and create more jobs.

"Of all the steps we're taking to move this economy from recession to recovery, I continue to believe that the success of our small businesses will be a foundation upon which our future prosperity is built. So we will continue to do whatever we can to help these businesses grow and thrive. And I'm confident that the steps we announced today will do that for small-business owners across the country -- men and women we hear from every day."

Administrator Mills Comments on President Obama’s Proposal to Raise SBA Loan Limits
Following President Obama's announcement to raise the maximum loan size for SBA-backed loans to small business, SBA Administrator Mills issued the following statement:

"America’s 29 million small businesses have been hard-hit in this recession. Nine months ago, President Obama sent small businesses a lifeline: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since then, the SBA has supported more than 33,000 loans for a total of almost $13 billion in small-business lending. This has helped save or create tens of thousands of jobs.

"But there is much more work to be done, which is why President Obama today pledged his support for legislation that would increase the maximum size of some SBA loans. Increasing maximum loan sizes will allow the SBA to ensure that more small-business owners and entrepreneurs can get access to the credit they need to expand their operations and create jobs.

"The President also announced additional support from the Treasury Department for smaller community lenders that are committed to increasing their lending to small businesses. Secretary Geithner and I will host a conference on small-business lending with members of Congress, regulators, lenders and the small-business community. The conference will discuss additional efforts that can be taken to provide small businesses with access to credit. These steps, coupled with SBA’s ongoing efforts, will help small businesses grow and create jobs throughout America."

Rep. Velázquez Applauds, Looks Forward to "Swiftly Moving" Small-Business Lending Legislation
Shortly after President Obama's speech, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez [D-NY], chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, commented on the Administration's plan for helping small businesses access credit:

"I applaud the President for reaffirming his support for our nation's small businesses and recognizing their importance to the economic recovery. With the Administration's March announcement, and again today, the President has made clear that he is committed to getting entrepreneurs the help that they need. As the Administration refines the details of this plan, I am sure they will closely consult lenders, the small-business community and Congress, and I look forward to participating in that dialogue.

"In working to increase access to capital, it is important to pursue policies that will open doors for, and enhance the opportunities, of small firms. Duplicating existing programs or instilling initiatives that only benefit the lenders does nothing to help grow our economy.

"The ultimate goal is to get affordable capital into the hands of small businesses. That is why the Committee today approved bipartisan legislation to comprehensively modernize the SBA's capital-access initiatives. This bill is expected to support $44 billion in small-business lending every year, helping to save or create 1.3 million jobs annually. I look forward to swiftly moving this legislation through the House and working with my colleagues to get this bill to the President for his signature."

To view the video of President Obama's speech, go to:

The full text of President Obama's remarks can be found here:

A fact sheet on President Obama's proposal to increase SBA loan size can be found at:

A fact sheet on's Small Business and Community Lending Initiative, titled "Unlocking Credit for Small Businesses," is available at:

To track Recovery Act-related developments, go to:

For information about federal contracting opportunities, go to:

SOURCES: U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. House Committee on Small Business, U.S. Small Business Administration, White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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