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WASHINGTON-The Small Business Administration provided a record amount of lending assistance for small businesses in fiscal year 2003, increasing 29% over FY 2002. Throughout the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, SBA backed 76,465 loans to small businesses through its three major programs. Specifically, 7(a) loans were up by 30.3% and 504 loans rose by 25.2%. The number of Microloans fell 5%. “These loans demonstrate our commitment to meeting the unique financing needs of small businesses everywhere, and the impressive increase we have posted for the past year validates our approach to making smaller loans more readily available to the real job creation engine of our economy,” SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said. “By focusing on a smaller average loan size we are leveraging our resources to assisting more small businesses and creating more jobs. Based on statements from our borrowers, our financial backing helped the small businesses of America create or retain more than 526,000 jobs.” Loans to minority-owned small business jumped 38%, while loan approvals for women increased 33%, according to SBA. Loans to small businesses owned by veterans rose 22%.

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