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SBA Awards $8 million to Aid Micro Entrepreneurs

Low-income micro entrepreneurs soon will have access to better training opportunities and technical assistance thanks to $8 million in grants that will help 92 nonprofits provide these programs and services.

The grants from the Small Business Administration (SBA ) are intended to assist small businesses managed by low-income micro entrepreneurs - owners with five or fewer employees - including entrepreneurs residing on Indian reservations and tribal lands, in 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“We are very pleased that this year we have been able to provide this funding, which will translate into new jobs and stronger local economies,” said SBA head Karen Mills in a statement about the grants delivered under the Program for Investment in Micro Entrepreneurs (PRIME).

A complete list of recipients and disbursement amounts is available on the SBA website.

In other SBA news:

- Size standards: The U.S. Small Business Administration this week changed its size standards to reach out to more companies in three commercial sectors, affecting businesses in retail trades, accommodations and food services and other industries. The changes — sparked by the first comprehensive review of size standards in more than 25 years — will broaden businesses' eligibility for financial assistance, contracts and more programs from the SBA and other federal agencies. The SBA says more than 17,000 additional businesses now may qualify for its programs. Officials proposed reviewing size standards, based on industry-specific data, last October. Mills said in an October 6 statement that the administration wanted to make sure “the factors that determine eligibility are aligned with current economic and industry indicators, and ensure that small businesses across the country have the tools they need to drive economic growth and create jobs.”

- Small, women-owned businesses: A new program expected to launch in 2011 plans to expand access to federal contracting opportunities for small, women -owned businesses (WOSBs). In an October 4 announcement, SBA identified 83 industries in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented in the federal contract marketplace. “Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of our nation’s economy, and even during the economic downturn of the last few years, have been one of the key job creation engines in communities across the country,” Mills said. To be eligible, a business must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women.

- Loan applications: The SBA has given final approval to all of the loan applications from small business borrowers. The approvals, which were completed Monday, amount to 1,939 loans for nearly $970 million. These actions follow President Barack Obama’s signing of the Small Business Jobs Act on September 27, which provided funding for the extension of increased guarantees and reduced fees in SBA’s two largest loan programs. Small business owners have been waiting for additional funding and putting applications in the queue since May.

- Lending rebound: SBA loans guaranteed to small businesses and entrepreneurs continued to rebound in fiscal year 2010. In fiscal year 2010, the SBA supported more than $22 billion (54,833 loans) in lending to small businesses through its two largest loan programs compared with more than $17 billion (47,897 loans) in fiscal year 2009. “SBA-backed lending continued the rebound started in fiscal year 2009 as a result of the fee reductions and higher loan guarantees made available last year under the Recovery Act,” Mills said. “The success of these loan enhancements has meant tens of thousands of small businesses have been able to get the capital they needed to not just survive the recession, but to grow and create much-needed jobs in communities all across the country.

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Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer Brian Anthony Hernandez at Bhernandez@TechMediaNetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter (@BAHjournalist) and become his friend on Facebook (BAH Journalist) to interact or stay updated on news about small businesses.