Officials at the Seattle District Office of the U. S. Small Business Administration report the office has exceeded all previous levels for small business funding in Western Washington with $286.2 million in loans to a total of 1,329 small companies.
The agency guarantees bank loans to small businesses, and it estimates that more than 7,500 jobs were created or maintained as a result of the SBA loan program this past year. Nationally the small business sector has been recognized as the source of two of every three net new jobs in the economy.
Seattle District Director Bob Meredith said the record volume of activity reflects a 45 percent increase over last years levels in the number of firms assisted with the government guarantee loan program. Meredith said that about 30 percent of the loans were to startup businesses, the remainder of the lending portfolio went to established firms.
The office reports a currency rate of 93 percent and a loan loss rate of less than 3 percent.
The SBA attributes the dramatic increase in loans to a robust interest in creating and starting small businesses in the state which has experienced major job reductions in recent years.
SBA lending nationwide increased overall this year by nearly 20 percent to 67,000 loans to small businesses in the amount of $13 billion.
Meredith said that last years introduction of a new SBA Express loan product which has been highly popular with lenders and borrowers alike also contributed to the increased activity in business loans.
The SBA Express loan program empowers lenders to make all credit and underwriting decisions using their own forms and procedures which expedites and streamlines the loan process.
The program is popular for borrowers seeking up to $250,000 in financing. SBA can also guarantee bank loans under its other programs for up to $1 million. The agency also assists small firms with micro loans of up to $35,000 which are offered through licensed intermediary companies.
More than 80 lending organizations in Western Washington participate in the SBA loan program.
The top three lending institutions in the Seattle SBA portfolio for fiscal year 2003 are Bank of America (383 loans), U.S. Bank (100 loans) and Wells Fargo Bank (71 loans).
More information on the Small Business Administration and its programs can be found at www.sba.gov/wa/seattle.