The U.S Small Business Administration has done such a good job making its guaranteed 7(a) loan program more attractive that the program has run out of money several months before the agency’s fiscal year is over.
The SBA on Thursday said that the 7(a) program had reached its fiscal year 2015 loan guaranty program limit, and as a result, the agency was forced to suspend lending in that program until the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, unless Congress extends loan authority before then.
“America’s small businesses are back and growing faster than ever,” Ann Marie Mehlum, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access, said in an updated posted on the agency’s website. “In recent months, [the] SBA’s 7(a) program has experienced unprecedented demand from America’s small business community. [The] SBA has already approved over 45,000 loans this year totaling more than $16.5 billion, a 25% increase over this same period last year.”
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, New York Democrat, on Wednesday introduced legislation (H.R. 3132) that would raise the cap to $23.5 billion, allowing the initiative to continue functioning until the cap can be addressed again when Congress passes legislation for the start of the agency’s new fiscal year.
“Small businesses are the economic engine of our nation, but they require capital to create jobs and fuel commerce,” Velázquez said in a press release. “Shutting down or disrupting one of the most important small business financing mechanisms we have at our disposal would be irresponsible and do great harm to our economy.”
An American Banker article Thursday said that lawmakers have begun considering Velazquez’ legislation, but they have not announced a timeline for a possible resolution.
“Things are moving in the right direction, but there is still no obvious clear path” toward a solution, Thaddeus Inge, the SBA’s associate administrator for congressional and legislative affairs, told the American Banker.
House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) “is working with House and Senate colleagues to get to the best resolution on this as soon as possible, and they’re considering every viable option,” Kelly McNabb, the committee’s communications director, wrote in an email to the publication.
There seems to be growing bipartisan support for added SBA funding, according to the American Banker. The 7(a) program pays for itself through fees charged to lenders for the loan guarantees, and as such, the SBA doesn’t need an appropriation, just the authority to approve loans above the current cap.