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From Feb. 17 through May 1, 361 lenders that had not previously made a Small Business Administration loan since Oct. 2008 are now making 7(a) loans, the agency said. Of those lenders, 166 had not made a loan since at least 2007.

The agency said it gives much of the credit to the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year. As of May 10, the SBA approved $2.4 billion in recovery loans, and supported $3.3 billion in lending to small businesses. Since the signing of the Recovery Act, weekly loan dollar volumes have risen more than 25% in the 7(a) and 504 programs, compared to the weeks preceding passage of the legislation.

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