Calling small businesses "the engine of America's dynamism," U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Timothy Geithner has announced his plan to unlock credit flowing to them as quickly as possible.
One measure will require the top 21 banks receiving government bailout funds to report on their small business lending each month. "We need every bank in the country to do everything in their power to provide the credit that small businesses need to operate, expand and add jobs," Geithner said in remarks prepared for delivery to various bankers and small business leaders at the White House.
Many banks have reigned in lending, and Geithner said that making sure that small business doesn't starve as a result is their responsibility. "Many banks in this country took too much risk, but the risk now to the economy as a whole is that you will take too little risk," he said.
He also asked that bank regulators request quarterly reports on small business loans from banks instead of annual reports in order to track lending more closely.
The stimulus plan, announced last month, also includes measures to reduce small business lending fees and increase guarantees on Small Business Administration loans to make them more appealing to risk-averse lenders.
Geithner reiterated the belief that job creation from small business may drive the economic recovery, as small business has generated about 70 percent of net new jobs annually over the past decade.
Addressing the small business leaders in the planned remarks, he said, "You take the germ of an idea and transform it into products and services that make America more productive. When you prosper the nation prospers. And when the national economy is hurting, you bear that burden heavily."