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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
TAUNTON – According to the South Eastern Economic Development Corp., its lending to small businesses increased 20 percent in its last fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2012. The elevated level of borrowing is a positive sign that capital is being put back into businesses and the economy.
Under all its programs, SEED made 134 loans totaling $40 million and leveraged another $73 million in bank loans and private funds. They also assisted in the creation of 688 new jobs in the region.
“This is a great sign for the economy of our region. Small businesses are finally optimistic enough to take on new projects and expand their businesses, and new entrepreneurs are also more willing to start-up new businesses,” stated Maria Gooch-Smith, SEED’s executive director in a statement announcing the good news.
Gooch-Smith said that 91 loans were approved and closed under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBA 504 program, for a total of $38 million. These loans created about 500 new jobs and leveraged another $66 million in bank loans and private funds. Under their small loan programs, SEED granted 42 loans totaling $1.9 million. These loans ranged from $9,000 to $120,000, leveraged $7 million in bank loans and private funds and created almost 200 jobs.
According to Gooch-Smith, in some cases a commercial property was for sale, an opportunity for a small business to consider buying at advantageous price, the lowest interest rates in years, and lower their monthly payments. She also said that the 504 loan lessens bank lending risk on commercial real estate financing. Funds for SBA 504 loans come from the monthly sale of long term bonds backed by the U.S. government.
“Many of the smaller loans were made to businesses which could not qualify for conventional bank financing due to insufficient collateral, and tight cash flow, but they were viable community businesses which create jobs and are important to our region’s economy,” Gooch-Smith said.