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Loans to exporters backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration continued to grow in the agency’s recently closed fiscal year, with more than $923 million in loans supporting $1.7 billion in small-business exports.

The federal agency reported a 106 percent surge in the number of loans guaranteed through its newly revamped International Trade Loan program, with the dollars involved soaring 207 percent. In all, since 2009, the agency has guaranteed 6,100 loans totaling more than $3.1 billion to small-business exporters, supporting more than $6 billion in exports.

The trade loan program provides capital for small manufacturers to expand their facilities or buy equipment to make products that are then sold internationally, either directly or through an export intermediary.

“Giving small businesses the tools they need to export their goods and services and create jobs is an important part of our core mission,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Exporting is creating opportunities for small businesses to create good-paying jobs and provide economic benefits to local communities nationwide.”

The agency also reported that its Small Business Investment Company debt program provided a record $2.95 billion to small businesses in the last fiscal year, up 14 percent from $2.59 million in fiscal 2011 and up 85 percent from 2010.

SBA capital commitments to SBIC debt funds rose to $1.92 billion from $1.82 billion, setting another record, while the SBIC program attracted $1 billion in private-sector capital last year, up from $840 million and also a record level.

SBICs are privately owned investment firms that are licensed and regulated by the SBA. They use private funds and money raised through SBA guarantees to make capital investments in small businesses. Currently, 301 SBICs hold more than $18 billion in capital under management.

Established in 1958 as backup to long-term debt or private-equity capital, the SBIC program has invested about $63 billion in more than 110,000 small businesses, allowing them to get access to long-term capital for growth and job creation.

The agency said it has been working for the past three years to improve the program, by increasing the number of licenses and cutting the amount of time it takes to get a license. The SBA issued 30 new licenses last year, up 36 percent from the prior year, and cut processing time to 5.4 months from 14.6 months in 2009.

“These record-setting numbers are proof that our efforts to streamline and simplify the process have made it possible to get capital into the hands of small businesses more quickly,” Mills said.

“When an SBIC invests in a small business, it can scale up and create jobs.”?



email: jepstein@buffnews.com