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Bill Radke: The government would like to help small businesses as well. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration are sponsoring a forum today to get money flowing that way again. From the Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mitchell Hartman has more.
Mitchell Hartman: Scratch the surface at many small businesses and you can see the credit crunch up close and personal. Reduced credit lines, bank loans called in, cancelled credit cards, and the consequences: laid-off workers and reduced inventory.
The stimulus package passed by Congress made it easier for banks to make SBA loans and waived fees to borrowers. And that helped a lot, says Bob Coleman, who puts out a report on small-business lending.
Bob Coleman: That lending is up 40 percent over what it was in the dark days of November and December.
Still, problems are looming. SBA's running out of stimulus money earlier than expected. And new initiatives, like higher loan limits and bailout money for community banks, haven't kicked in yet.
And, Coleman says, there's only so much SBA can do, if big banks that got bailouts don't start lending again.
Coleman: I believe the criticism of the large banks not lending enough is valid. But in their defense, the regulators have been very tough, i.e., clean up that balance sheet, be risk-adverse.
And with banks still failing at record rates, it'll probably be a while before the survivors loosen up lending.
I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.