Small-business lending is picking up again in Western New York, as the amount of government-guaranteed loans to small companies in the region nearly tripled in the first two months of the federal government's fiscal year compared with a year earlier.

According to new data from the U.S. Small Business Administration, 18 lenders originated 114 loans to small businesses, totaling $23.17 million, in October and November, up 48 percent in number of loans and up almost threefold in total amount from 77 loans for $7.82 million in the same period a year ago.

Separately, the SBA will hold a workshop Friday in Buffalo to help local businesses that have been hurt by the National Hockey League's 13-week lockout. The workshop, at 2 p.m. in the Central Library on Lafayette Square, will help small-business owners find out about available assistance.

The agency scheduled the session at the behest of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; State Sen. Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo; and others who were concerned that the league's shortened and potentially canceled season will damage businesses such as downtown hotels and restaurants that rely on revenues from hockey crowds.

"The more games that are lost to this lockout, the more our local businesses lose," Gillibrand said. "I strongly encourage our businesses to work to take advantage of all that is available to help make it through this difficult time."

As far as which banks have written SBA loans here in the past two months, Buffalo-based M&T Bank Corp., the region's biggest bank, claimed 37 of the loans, for $6.48 million, followed by Five Star Bank, a subsidiary of Warsaw-based Financial Institutions, with 23 loans for $5.43 million.

By number of loans, First Niagara Financial Group of Buffalo was third with 14 loans, followed by Evans Bancorp with seven loans and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co. with six.

By dollars, newcomer Grow America Fund was third with a single loan for $1.89 million, followed by First Niagara at $1.79 million and Wells Fargo & Co. at $1.69 million for four loans.

Grow America, a program of the nonprofit National Development Council, is providing $3 million to the Grow Erie Fund, a small-business support program started by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, which is providing another $1 million. The fund is designed to work with SBA loan guarantees.

Those loans were made under the SBA's core 7(a) loan program, in which the government guarantees repayment of up to 85 percent of the amount of the loan in some cases if the borrower defaults. Those loan guarantees, which are paid for by fees, are intended to encourage lenders to extend credit in situations where they might not do so because of the borrower's perceived credit risk.

In the SBA's other major program – third-party "certified development" loans for real estate or other fixed equipment – four lenders made seven loans for $3.75 million, up from three loans for $791,000 in the same period a year ago. M&T made four loans for $3.1 million, while Bank of Castile, Bank of America Corp. and the Upstate National Bank made one loan each.

By type of borrower, M&T made three loans to exporters, totaling $860,000, while Five Star made one for $2.5 million.