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SBA stimulus funds dry up, old rates return (access required)

By Austin Light CHARLOTTE — In a sort of Black Friday reversal, the U.S. Small Business Administration loan deals made possible by federal stimulus funds ran out the last week of November. Now, business owners looking for funding have a decision to make: apply now for standard fees and guarantees, or wait and hope the savings come back. “It’s a bit of a gamble for business owners,” said Lee Cornelison, the district director for the Charlotte area. In February, the SBA received $355 million in stimulus funds to enhance its lending program. The agency eliminated borrower fees and pushed the lender guarantees up from 85 percent to 90 percent on loans less than $150,000. According to Cornelison, the program took a few months to get moving, but once it did, the money went fast. “It took a while for lenders to become familiar with the process, but it started to pick up steam this fall,” he said. “September was our strongest month since March 2008.”

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