Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement on the launch of the Washington Small Business Credit Initiative (WSBCI), an initiative to bolster lending to small businesses in Washington state. The effort is part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was created under the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act.
"Small businesses are crucial to economic growth on Main Streets across Washington state," Cantwell said. "The Washington Small Business Credit Initiative will help small business owners to get the credit they need to expand and create jobs. I fought in the U.S. Senate to ensure that the Small Business Jobs Act included provisions like this one to improve access to credit that will help small businesses create jobs. By helping Main Street secure financing, we can ensure that Washington state's economy continues to grow."
Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business and Finance committees, played a leading role in authoring and championing the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, a measure helping small businesses create and preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs through tax incentives and expanded private-sector lending. President Obama signed it into law at a White House ceremony with Cantwell and Joe Fugere, owner of Seattle-based Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, on September 27, 2010.
The SSBCI awards participating states with federal investments for initiatives like the WSBCI that leverage private lending to help finance creditworthy small businesses. It encourages states to continue the development of successful small business programs and is open to both new and existing programs.
Other key aspects of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 included:
STEP Program to Increase Small Business Exports: In October at a tour of Swype, a mobile phone technology company, Cantwell announced the first installment of grants under the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. STEP was created by the SBJA and will help approximately 100 small businesses across Washington state increase their exports worldwide and create jobs. The new investment is expected to expand export assistance programs at the departments of Commerce and Agriculture and assist up to $58 million in new export sales at small businesses in Washington state.
Increased Loans to Help Small Businesses Create Jobs: The SBJA also enabled thousands more small businesses to get access to loans, by decreasing fees and increasing small business 504 loan guarantee limits from $1.5 million to $5.5 million. In July, Cantwell visited Elysian Brewing Co., who secured an enhanced 504 loan last November in the amount of $5 million, which it used to invest in company expansion. Because of this loan, Elysian is expanding its production and distribution network and hiring 35 new employees.
Improved Access to Capital through new Small Business Lending Fund: The Small Business Jobs Act also established a new Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF). Cantwell was instrumental in winning passage of the SBLF to encourage small business growth through increased access to lending capital. The Fund enables community banks to increase lending to small businesses looking to expand. Cantwell fought to create the Fund in response to the seizure of credit markets caused by the Wall Street meltdown that prevented even thriving businesses from accessing capital.