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Small Businesses Still Reeling From the Credit Crunch

Small-Business Loans Still Few and Far Between

While banks are reporting improved earnings and a double-digit uptick in profits from business lending, small-business owners are not feeling the love. For the first time since the financial crisis began, banks and financial institutions are lending more than they did in 2008, and total loans to large businesses have increased 20% to more than $1.9 trillion. However, loans to small businesses have flatlined, and according to some surveys, they might even be declining.

The Small Business Funding Gap

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data show a 19.1% decrease in small-business loans (loans of $1 million or less) outstanding since the beginning of the Great Recession in late 2007. In contrast, loans to midsize and large companies rose from $1.5 trillion to nearly $2 trillion, a 12 percent increase.

Even the federal Small Business Lending Fund launched in 2010 as part of the Small Business Jobs Act fizzled before it was able to make any significant impact. Ultimately, only about $4 billion of the program’s $30 billion fund was disbursed to business owners, because many community banks and local lenders found the program’s requirements too stringent, and the Treasury Department was slow to review and approve applications.

Only about 1 in 8 community banks participated in the project, and many of the participating lenders used the funds to pay back debts associated with the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP).

Economic Impact and Next Steps

The small-business credit crunch has had far-reaching economic impact in nearly every state. The National Association of Independent Business recently reported that only 9 percent of small businesses plan to expand in the next 12 months, and only 23 percent plan to make capital investments. Business owners are clearly weary of approaching banks and lenders to secure capital for growth.

Eventually, small-business owners will see a gradual thaw in the lending market, but in the meantime, the best way to prepare for future financial success is to closely monitor your business credit scores and ratings to ensure that your company has a fighting chance of locking down favorable terms the next time you apply for funding. Contact Dun & Bradstreet to find out more about protecting your credibility and improving your business credit record.


Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.