WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration recently set a record in the number of 7(a) and 504 loans that it has backed in its 51-year history. As of August 6 – eight weeks before the end of fiscal year 2004, which ends Sept. 30, – the SBA’s 7(a) loan program had guaranteed 67,493 loans in fiscal year 2004, more than the record 67,306 7(a) loans made in all of fiscal year 2003. In addition, the agency has backed 6,974 loans through its 504 program, surpassing the 2003 record of 6,863. When compared to the same time period last year, the numbers represent significant increases: 23% for 7(a) and 27% for 504, the SBA reported. SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said he is “hopeful that (the SBA) can continue this trend, particularly if the President’s proposal to make 7(a) self-sustaining is approved by Congress.” Loan guarantees to African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans are also 30% ahead of their totals at the same date last year. Loans to women are up by 25%, and rural loans are 11% ahead, the SBA reported. Credit unions of course have become bigger players in the small business lending market.

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