Taxpayer-backed loans to Southwest Washington businesses rose in dollar value in the year ending Sept. 30, although the number of loans in the four Southwest Washington counties dropped slightly during that 12-month period, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration's regional office.
The agency guaranteed 98 loans, with a total loan amount of $69.2 million, in Clark, Skamania, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2012, the agency said. That compared to 102 loans, for a total of $53.2 million, for the previous 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2011.
The SBA's most recent accounting for the four Southwest Washington counties is from Oct. 1 to March 20 of this year. The agency so far has supported 50 loans for $30.7 million.
In October 2010, the SBA increased its loan limit on its major loan categories from $2 million to $5 million.
The vast majority of the loans, in Clark County and nationwide, are through the SBA's 7(a) program. These loans can be used to establish a new business or for acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business. The less-used 504 loan program provides financing for major fixed assets such as equipment or real estate.
In Southwest Washington, the average 7(a) loan was $450,000 in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2012, and $418,000 the previous year. The average amount for 504 loans was $2.1 million in 2012, up from $1.16 the previous year.
For the entire Oregon/Southwest Washington region served by the Portland office, SBA guaranteed $428 million in loans for the one-year period ending Sept. 30, 2012. That compared to $391 million in loans in the previous one-year period.
"In the Portland District, we've had back-to-back record years in lending and are on pace to reach yet another record year in 2013, said Robert DuCoté, acting district director. "This is a healthy sign for the economy and the credit markets and is one of the foundations for ensuring the availability of financing to small businesses trying to establish themselves, grow and create new jobs."
Editor's note: This story was modified to correct the date that the SBA increase the loan limit from $2 million to $5 million.