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WASHINGTON – The number of small businesses that received loans backed by the SBA through the first two quarters of FY 2003 was up by more than 35%, compared to the same period the previous year. According to the SBA, the most significant increases came from loans to minorities, women, and veterans. The SBA also reported a large increase in SBAExpress loans which more than doubled from 6,122 loans to 13,991 over the first six months of the fiscal year. Loans made under the SBAExpress Program are limited to a maximum amount of $250,000, and the SBA guaranty is limited to 50%. Collateral is not required for loans of $25,000 or less. Last year, the program was enhanced with an emphasis on increasing the numbers of small SBA loans, particularly loans of $50,000 or less. The program was also opened up to lenders not formerly participating with SBA, if they meet certain eligibility requirements. The SBA attributed the increase to the efforts by the agency to make SBAExpress loans of under $250,000 more widely available by making it easier and faster for lenders to approve the loans. The overall increase in loan approvals under the SBA’s two major loan programs, the 7(a) General Business Loan Guaranty program and the Certified Development Company (504) loan program, came to 35.7%, an increase from 23,709 loans during the first two quarters of FY 2002, to 32,183 loans during the same period in the current fiscal year – 7(a) loans were up by 38.1%, and 504 loans increased by 15.3%. Loans to small businesses owned by minorities increased by 42.1%, from 5,972 through March 2002, to 8,486 through March 2003. Within that total, loans to Hispanic Americans increased by 40.6%, loans to Asian Americans were up 33.1%, and loans to Native Americans increased 26.7%. In addition, loan approvals for women small business owners increased by 34.8%, to 6,401 loans, and loans to veteran-owned businesses was up byt 26.2%, to 3,114 loans. The average loan size in the 7(a) program fell to $165,360 in the first half of the year, from $239,079. The average 504 loan increased from $440,143 to $454,487.

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