April 26, 2007 -- House lawmakers this week approved legislation that seeks to improve access to capital for small-business owners by boosting federal lending programs.

Among other measures, the Small Business Lending Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), reduces lender fees on the Small Business Administration's 7(a) loan program, while increasing the role of smaller banks and lenders in the program.

The bill also streamlines the process of determining loan eligibility for small businesses, while allowing borrowers to receive both a 7(a) and 504 loan. It also reduces borrower and lender fees for small medical services in rural areas, as well as startups launched by combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Access to capital is vital to the success of small firms in every region, industry, and sector," Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee said in a statement. "Small businesses have had to pay increasing costs to access what was intended to be affordable financing for far too long now."

The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate in coming weeks.

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Published on: Apr 26, 2007