The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded three new Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) licenses, signaling a historic expansion in efforts to increase financial access for small businesses in historically underserved communities.
This announcement marks the first broadening of the SBLC program in over four decades and represents a significant stride in fulfilling the Administration’s commitment to equity and inclusive economic growth.
Administrator Isabel Guzman, spearheading the SBA and serving as the principal advocate for America’s small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, declared the issuance of these licenses as a pivotal achievement in the nation’s economic and democratic fabric. Guzman emphasized, “The success of America’s 33 million small businesses is a pillar of Bidenomics and foundational to the prosperity of our economy, global competitiveness, and democracy.” She acknowledged the persistent challenges entrepreneurs face, particularly regarding small-dollar loans, reaffirming the Administration’s dedication to addressing capital market disparities.
Arkansas Capital Corporation, Alaska Growth Capital BIDCO, Inc., and Funding Circle are the esteemed recipients of the new licenses, poised to play crucial roles in the SBA’s vision of expanding affordable capital access. Each institution has expressed commitment to bolstering economic opportunities within underserved sectors, which include Native, rural, and low-income communities.
Arkansas Capital Corporation, a long-standing participant in the SBA 7(a) program, has a significant history of supporting small businesses within Arkansas, especially in regions where capital accessibility is a major impediment. CEO Sam Walls III lauded the license as an enabler to extend their reach, stating, “Arkansas Capital has bolstered regional economic development, but now, with this SBLC license, we can widen our SBA 7(a) footprint as well, expanding our services to rural and poverty-stricken areas in the South to start.”
In Alaska, McKinley Alaska Growth Capital has carved out a niche in aiding businesses in rural and Indigenous communities. Their new license is expected to amplify their impact beyond state borders. Logan Birch, the institution’s President and Chairman, heralded the license as a catalyst for their community-focused lending program, enabling the firm to venture into more underserved markets.
Funding Circle U.S., known for its innovative data and technology platform, also welcomed the SBLC license with open arms. Managing Director Steve Allocca expressed enthusiasm about extending their lending services to small businesses in need across the nation, particularly targeting low-moderate income neighborhoods and rural areas.
Small Business Deals
The three new SBLCs join 14 existing licenses, effectively enhancing the SBA’s lender network and facilitating a greater number of small business loans. This expansion aligns with the SBA’s recent elevation of mission-based lenders under the Community Advantage SBLC license to permanent status. Additionally, it underscores the SBA’s broader modernization initiative aimed at promoting small business lending through simplified credit criteria and reduced bureaucracy.
This advancement resonates powerfully with small business owners, particularly those who may have found themselves on the periphery of the lending landscape. It holds the promise of a more robust, equitable, and thriving small business community by ensuring that capital is not a barrier to innovation and growth but a bridge to new possibilities.
The SBA’s action is not just an administrative change but a concrete step towards democratizing financial access, fueling small business growth, and by extension, fortifying the economic structure at the grassroots level. As small businesses nationwide stand to benefit from these developments, the long-term economic landscape appears set for a more inclusive and prosperous future.
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