Greater Lehigh Valley small-business lending on the rise

Stacy Wescoe//March 3, 2016

Greater Lehigh Valley small-business lending on the rise

Stacy Wescoe//March 3, 2016

Leta said lending is up 72 percent in the Lehigh Valley, including Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill counties, in just the fiscal year’s first quarter, which ran Oct. 1-Dec. 31.

Leta said the region has had 55 loans totaling more than $11.7 million from the SBA’s 7(a) loan program.

That’s up from 32 loans totaling more than $7.8 million during the first quarter of 2015.

He said with SBA’s guarantee fee waiver for loans below $150,000 continuing to spur more loans with a smaller average loan size per loan, the 7(a) program is in greater use by SBA’s lending partners to make more vital small business loans available to a wider number of small businesses.

Michael Kane, deputy director of the district, said the SBA also implemented new technology initiatives, such as the online platform SBA One, which he said helps lenders leverage SBA programs to provide loans.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for lenders,” Kane said. “I think we’re seeing that in the Lehigh Valley and I think we’re seeing that across the district.

For the entire 40-county Eastern Pennsylvania District, that loan program saw 378 loans totaling more than $99.3 million, compared to 295 loans for $99.6 million during the same period last year.

Leta noted that was more loans and roughly the same amount of dollars loaned, which is continuing a trend of more loans for smaller amounts.

The SBA’s 504 Certified Development Company Loan Program, which provides growing businesses with long-term fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets such as land and buildings, had 21 loans totaling more than $18.1 million in the 40-county eastern Pennsylvania region.

That’s up from 15 loans for more than $11.2 million during the same time frame of the previous fiscal year.

The agency did not break out the Greater Lehigh Valley numbers for that program.

Leta called such capital “the lifeblood” of small business and entrepreneurs.

“SBA guaranteed loans provide small businesses with access to capital that can cover the vast majority of business expenses, including short- and long-term working capital, exports and even refinancing existing debt under certain condition,” he said.