Business Lending Creaks Back to Life

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biz-lending.jpgIf your business has been stuck in neutral because you can't get a loan, it might be time to get out and try the banks again. While many business owners have been wringing their hands over the frozen credit markets, it appears a substantial number of businesses have been getting loans in the past few months.

The SBA reports that by May, sales of SBA-backed business loans on the secondary market had returned to normal volumes, with $324.6 million in loan resales in May, up from the rock-bottom January level of $85.9 million.

Of course, it hasn't been an entirely smooth recovery in business lending out there. Many were unhappy with the small size of the SBA's new American Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program and its $35,000-per-business limit, as well as the difficulties many businesses encountered in qualifying for the loans.

Some individual banks are clearly making an effort to get their small-business lending back on track. JP Morgan Chase recently reported it extended $15.1 billion in loans and lines of credit to small and medium-sized businesses in the second quarter this year. And Fifth Third Bancorp announced last month it was hiring 30 new small-business lending managers and placing one at each of its branches.

It definitely pays to stay on top of who's making the effort to rebuild their small-business loan portfolio. For instance, Forbes recently reported that the fall of longtime top business lender CIT Group means other banks have taken more market share, particularly Wells Fargo, which Foresight Analytics of Oakland, Calif., estimated now has 7.7 percent of the small-biz lending market.

Another gauge of who's lending is to check the SBA's lists of top lenders of SBA-backed loans. For instance, here's one where you can see which banks are making the most volume of ARC loans.

Have you landed a loan lately? Or tried and failed? If so, leave a comment and share your experience.

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