The U.S. Small Business Administration enjoyed another banner year in fiscal 2014, approving a record $19.19 billion in loans under its 7(a) program, a 7.4% increase on last year.
The agency had been authorized to lend $17.5 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, but when it became clear that 7(a) lending would exceed that amount, the SBA secured an increased authorization from Congress in mid-September.
The number of approved 7(a) loans rose 12% to 52,044. Other loans that did well in fiscal 2014 were those $150,000 and under, which saw an increase of 23% in number of loans (30,675) and 29% in approved dollars ($1.86 billion) over fiscal year 2013. (The maximum borrowing amount for 7(a) loans is $5 million.)
Since the beginning of fiscal 2014, the SBA has not been charging fees on those loans. In October, it announced that the fee relief would continue for another fiscal year.
“As our economy continues to grow and recover, small businesses are the essential fuel to that continued growth,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said Thursday in announcing the record 2014 numbers.
“We know that America’s small businesses pack the biggest punch, creating two out of every three net new private sector jobs in the U.S. These small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities, so their success and expansion is vital to the nation’s economic growth,” she added.
Fiscal 2011 and 2012 were both record years for the SBA, when it provided more than $30 billion in loans to small businesses. Fiscal 2013 was the third-highest year for SBA lending.
The 7(a) program is designed to provide small businesses with financial assistance to cover the vast majority of business expenses, such as short and long-term working capital, exports, and, under certain conditions, refinancing existing debt.
The SBA has also eliminated fees on loans between $150,000 to $350,000 made to veterans under its Veteran Advantage initiative.