Small-business lending in Buffalo and Rochester through a government-guaranteed program continues to grow.

Loans originated through the Small Business Administration’s core 7(a) program in the Buffalo-Rochester market were up 7.6 percent over the same 11-month period a year ago. The statistics cover a period from last October – the start of the federal fiscal year – through August.

A total of 607 7(a) loans were originated during that span, compared with 564 last year. Meanwhile, the combined dollar value of those loans was up 25 percent, to $113.2 million. In August alone, 47 of the 7(a) loans were originated in the Buffalo-Rochester market, worth a combined $6.05 million.

The 7(a) loan statistics show which institutions are most active in the program, as well as to what extent borrowers are taking advantage of it. Under 7(a), the federal government provides guarantees for up to 85 percent of the principal amount of a loan.

M&T Bank remained securely atop the list, with 240 7(a) loans over the 11-month span. Next came First Niagara Financial Group, with 108, followed by Five Star Bank, with 74. A notable change involved Canandaigua National Bank and Trust, which was No. 10 through August in 2012 but has moved up to No. 5 this year, ahead of KeyBank.

M&T also led in dollar volume on this year’s list, at $42.3 million, followed by First Niagara’s $13.1 million and Five Star’s $9.7 million.

Apnea Care of Western New York, based in Williamsville, contributed to M&T’s first-place showing. The company, an M&T customer, was approved for a $500,000 7(a) loan late last year. It was part of a loan package that helped Apnea Care secure a contract worth about $15 million with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide oxygen services to veterans around the state. The company opened four locations and added 26 employees, said Ed Mis, vice president.

Sandy Fermoile, the owner, said the 7(a) loan proved essential to his company’s growth plans. “Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to get this contract from the VA,” he said.