SBA lending jumps 38% in Miami
By Laura Stace
US Small Business Administration lending in Miami-Dade County grew almost $59 million in the year ended Sept. 30, up 38%, restoring cautious optimism to the agency.
Figures released by the SBA — which guarantees loans made to small businesses by lenders — reveal just over $213 million in loans in Miami in fiscal 2012, up from just over $154 million in 2011.
Deputy District Director Jonel Hein said in 2011 several enhancements to SBA's loan programs resulted from the Small Business Jobs Act 2010.
This, she said, made participation more attractive to small business owners and also to lenders that take part in SBA programs.
"SBA's loan limits were permanently increased from $2 million to $5 million, thus allowing for larger loans to small businesses," Mrs. Hein said.
"Some SBA fees were reduced or eliminated, which made borrowing less expensive for entrepreneurs."
Mrs. Hein said building on the momentum of the Small Business Jobs Act 2010 and increased confidence among entrepreneurs, small business owners continued to seek financing in fiscal 2012.
SBA assisted in 449 loans in Miami during the year, up 5.4% from 426 during fiscal 2011.
One benefit of the Small Business Jobs Act 2010, which has now expired but was available during fiscal 2012, was the ability for small business owners to refinance existing real estate loans into SBA's 504 loan guaranty program, she said.
"The refinancing option offered much-needed relief for those small firms facing impending balloon payments, higher interest rates and fluctuating interest rates," she said.
"The number of 504 loans in the district in financial year 2012 grew by 27% over the previous year and the dollar value of those loans increased by 55% over fiscal year 2011."
SBA also streamlined and simplified many of its loan guaranty programs in 2012, she said. This included encouraging lenders to use more of their own paperwork and the agency's updating process systems, so that more than 80% of the loan applications can now be processed online.
In 2012 the top three industries in Miami-Dade to utilize the SBA were professionals: 16 offices of physicians (except mental health specialists) shared almost $9.4 million, ten offices of lawyers shared almost $1.3 million and nine offices of dentists shared almost $1.9 million.
The highest individual loan, $4 million, was granted to a surgical and medical instrument manufacturer.
Other high loans included almost $3.5 million to a spice and extract manufacturer, almost $3.4 million to lessors of nonresidential buildings (except miniwarehouses) and almost $2.3 million to a new car dealer.
Mrs. Hein said loans for exporting continue to steadily increase in South Florida. The SBA recorded 79 exporting loans worth more than $53 million in 2012, up from 67 valued at just over $30 million in 2011. She said these loans were made throughout all 24 counties in the district.
"We see great diversity in the size of the SBA loans for exporting and international trade, where loans have been guaranteed for as little as $5,000 all the way up to the new loan limit of $5 million," she said.
However despite increased loan volumes, the administration remains "cautiously optimistic" about the future, Mrs. Hein said — "cautious because some other economic factors still drag on the South Florida economy such as high unemployment and the lower real estate values."
Mrs. Hein said the SBA continues to clear the way for entrepreneurs to grow their business by ensuring credit is available to them from microloans as small as $500 to $5 million.
"We have actively recruited, trained and retained scores of lenders, both large financial institutions and smaller community banks alike," she said.
"We will soon be announcing new SBA lenders who will be offering loans in South Florida that will meet the needs of small business borrowers looking for loans under $200,000."
Nationally, the SBA loan approvals supported $30.25 billion to small businesses in its two main programs — 7(a) and 504 this fiscal year. This was down from $30.5 billion in 2011, but significantly higher than $22.6 billion in 2010.
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