Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released a Senate Small Business Committee report showing small business lending in Southwest Washington is lagging behind other areas of the state but has room for growth. Cantwell also convened a field hearing in Vancouver to hear testimony from small businesses, lenders and economic development leaders about the challenges and successes of getting loans for local businesses to expand and create job.
Southwest Washington was one of the hardest hit areas in Washington state during the economic downturn. While capital markets have improved in other regions recently, the region has been slower to recover.
"We know here in the Pacific Northwest about innovation and a 21st-Century economy," Cantwell said during the Small Business Committee field hearing at Vancouver's City Hall. "I'm confident the next great company is being dreamed up right now in a Vancouver or Longview garage and it's just about whether they're going to get access to capital. We need to make sure they have the seeds for that growth."
Cantwell, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the report during a committee field hearing in Vancouver entitled "Capital Access for Main Street: Meeting Opportunities of Growth along the Lower Columbia."
The hearing focused on two popular loan programs available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) -- the 7(a) loan program, which provides working capital to businesses with difficulty obtaining traditional financing, and the SBA 504 loan program, which provides loans to purchase equipment or real estate loans. Through these programs, the federal government assumes part of the risk to encourage lenders to open access to capital.