Dr. Lena Smith is not one to throw up her hands in defeat. She was facing mounting financial trouble a year ago, after she built a customized assisted living facility in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. She struggled to nail down a commercial lender willing to loan her money, and instead opted to apply for the Small Business Administration's 504 loan program. Although this program has been around for 51 years, now small business owners, as part of President Obama's stimulus package, can refinance any existing fixed asset loan as long as the amount is 50 percent less then the total expansion. In addition, most all loan fees have been eliminated.

"Quite honestly, I don't know if this facility could have gotten off the ground if all the elements hadn't coincided at the same time," Smith says. "It took close to $5 million to build this place." With over $30,000 in fees covered as part of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Smith was able to take that money and "green" her facility, adding eco-friendly insulation and air conditioning systems.

As of July 10, the SBA has supported $6.5 billion in small business lending with the approval of $4.8 billion in loans since February of this year. They received $730 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to galvanize the small business lending market. "It lowers the cost of capital," according to Eric Zarnikow, associate administrator for the Office of Capital Access. "It encourages small businesses; it's like we're putting our loans on sale."

John and Kimberly Henderson of Royal Window Films in Anaheim, California, received a $410,000 loan to purchase a new office building and expand their company, which sells and installs energy saving window films. "A lot of the fees went down," Kimberly noted. "The market has gone down, so it is a good time to invest." Without the 504 loan, the Henderson's would have had to put $205,000 as a down payment instead of $82,000, a price well outside their budget.

"I'm fortunate," adds Smith, "Those businesses that receive a 504 loan have great potential for success."