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WASHINGTON – The Small Business Administration is looking to further expand its relationship with credit unions, according to SBA Deputy Administrator Melanie Sabelhaus speaking to NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus last week. There are 25 million small business owners, she stated. More than 10 million are women and 51% of all employees work for small businesses. “They’re our people. They’re your people,” Sabelhaus said. She added, that the administration is particularly interested in working with the faith-based credit unions to help in underserved markets. In 2003, SBA closed 300 loans through credit unions, Sabelhaus said. Their goal for 2004 is 800, and they have already done well over 600. A full 171 credit unions have been approved for SBA lending, including two of the largest: Navy and Pentagon Federal Credit Unions. To expand the partnership between credit unions and SBA, Sabelhaus suggested that credit unions get more involved in the 504 commercial real estate lending program, which is “quality paper” and has an active secondary market. She added that SBA regional directors are holding sessions specifically aimed at credit unions to facilitate involvement. Together, credit unions and SBA can help mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. “We need to open some doors and show them the way,” she said. And, the market to target is women. SBA lending to women is up 37% and women are starting new businesses at twice the rate men are and staying in business. Minority women are setting up shop at four times the rate men are. Every day, 1,600 new businesses open each day that are run by women. “Thank you for what you do. Bless you and God bless America,” Sabelhaus concluded. [email protected]

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