A $700 billion economic rescue package approved this week by Senate and House lawmakers will help free up credit for small-business owners, along with their customers, suppliers and vendors, business group say.

The package, which adds more than $100 billion in tax breaks and other provisions to an administration-backed bailout bill rejected earlier in the week, was approved by the House on Friday in a vote of 263-171. It was then signed into law by President Bush within hours.

The extra provisions include measures to protect taxpayers, as well as business tax credits for research and development  and incentives for developing alternative energy.

"We have acted boldly to help prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country," Bush said.

Small-business lobby and trade groups that had grudgingly supported  the administration's rescue package applauded the passage of the new bill.

"While small-business owners have strong and conflicting feeling about the rescue package, in the end, their ability to grew their businesses depends upon stability and liquidity in the financial markets," Todd Stottlemyer, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement.

According to the National Federation of Retailers, the bill will help protect Main Street jobs in addition to stabilizing Wall Street and credit markets.

"The House has voted for a plan that will maintain the ability of American consumers and businesses to obtain the credit needed to keep our economic engine running and pave the road to economy recovery," Steve Pfister, the trade group's senior vice president for government relations, said in a statement.

A survey conducted earlier this month by SurePayroll, a Chicago-based payroll firm, found that small-business owners were evenly split on the idea of a taxpayer-funded bailout of giant financial firms and its impact on smaller employers.

"When you are talking about small business, you are talking about the most ardent supporters of capitalism and the free markets," Michael Alter, the firm's president, said in a statement. "It's really no surprising that there's some disillusionment with the system having failed in this instance."