The Small Business Administration announced Wednesday that in fiscal year 2011, the agency approved a record number and record amount of lending to small businesses.
The agency reported approving 61,689 loans, totaling $30.5 billion, through its two largest lending programs. The New Jersey district office approved 1,290 loans valued at $678.2 million in 2011, up from 1,198 loans for $445.5 million in 2010.
“I think this speaks volumes about the direction our economy is going,” said Alfred Titone, the SBA’s New Jersey district director. “Despite tough economic conditions, we are seeing increases in lending to minority small-business owners across the board. We’re starting to see some signs of positive growth.”
New Jersey minority business owners received $258 million in loans from 439 approved applications, an 18 percent increase from 372 last year.
The national total is the highest volume of loans on record for the SBA, spurred by a strong first quarter in which $12 billion in funds were guaranteed by the agency.
The SBA credits the record increases to two key pieces of legislation, the Recovery Act and the Small Business Jobs Act, which increased available guarantees to 90 percent and waived fees for the two largest programs.
“Due to the Small Business Jobs Act and a return to pre-recession lending levels, over 61,000 small businesses had access to capital,” said agency Administrator Karen Mills. “SBA has provided small businesses with the tools they need so they can grow and create jobs. As SBA lending levels continue to indicate a rebound in small business lending, we will work through new programs to fill the gaps created in the marketplace.”
In 2011, the SBA added 30 lenders to its programs, and started two new programs to fill gaps where traditional lending programs fell short. Both the Community Advantage and Small Loan Advantage programs streamline the application process for loans worth less than $250,000, and increases incentives to lenders to make smaller loans.
Bergen County received the most loan approvals during the year, 161, for the highest amount of funding, $89.3 million. Three other counties topped 100 SBA loans — Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth.