Business lending in Mississippi backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration ended the year in amounts higher than pre-recession 2007, the SBA reports.
The agency backed more loans in 2007 — 623 — but the amount of those loans totaled $107 million, compared to fiscal 2012‘s $132.4 million. The SBA guaranteed 442 loans in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The significance of 2012 is that the totals do not include congressionally approved loan incentives of the two previous years. With the boost from the loan enhancements that included raising the guaranteed loan amount to 90 percent and reducing fees, 2010 loan totals in Mississippi hit a record 1,138 with a value of $193.2 million. In 2011, SBA loan values rose to $274 million on 749 loans issued.
Nationwide, the loan enhancements helped to generate $12 billion in overall small business lending, the SBA says.
Minus the 2010 and 2011 total loan values, this year’s SBA guaranty lending of $132.4 million has been surpassed only five times in the last 21 years. Three of those years — 2004, 2005 and 2006 — occurred as the economy heated up and banks lent more freely. Another of the years — 2009 — included totals from calendar year 2008, during which banks still engaged in more lenient underwriting. In that year, loan values reached $144.9 million on 770 SBA guaranty loans.
The $146 million in guaranty lending in 2002 — the other year higher than 2012 — likely included loans negotiated during the latter days of the dot-com era.
A rise in guaranty loan levels from the SBA may signal a resurgence in confidence, said Jim Finley, principal of the Growth Coach and advisor to Jackson State business incubator the e-Mississippi Innovation Center. “Generally, this tells us a foundation is being built,” said Finley, former longtime CEO of electrical parts manufacturer Craft Co.
Commenting before the SBA released its 2012 totals, he said: “I would project you might see some record loans being processed. The visionaries are starting to prepare themselves.”
Janita R. Stewart, director of the SBA’s Mississippi District, said some of the late-decade loan enhancements remain, including provisions that allow the agency to take part in larger loan deals. For instance, the SBA’s 7(a) loans have a threshold of $5 million, up from a previous $2 million. The maximum on the agency’s 504 loans increased to $5.5 million.
The contributions of the higher maximums can be seen in the 2012 totals. The Mississippi District, Stewart said, ended the year “at better than pre-recession stage in lending to small businesses.”