Senate lawmakers this week approved $569 million in funding for the Small Business Administration's core lending and assistance programs, the agency's first budget increase in seven years.

The 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act boosts funding for the agency's Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Centers, microloans, and HUBZones, among other federal programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

"For the first time since President Bush took office, small business programs will receive a real funding increase," Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said in a statement.