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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small business lending gets boost

Lending to small businesses by the mega-bank JPMorgan Chase has taken a spike. The bank extended more than $1.1 billion in credit to small businesses during the first two months of the year, double its lending total during the same two months last year, a spokesman told us. In addition, the spokesman said Chase increased lending through the Small Business Administration by $26 million, to total $181 million for the first five months of the federal government's fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2009.

Chase made a public commitment last November to increase lending to small businesses by $4 billion in 2010. The increased lending has been earmarked for companies with annual sales below $10 million. It also said it would hire 325 additional bankers who would be dispatched to help small business customers, bringing the total number of Chase bankers serving that market to 1,900, the bank said in a statement.

"We will provide more credit -- and more one-on-one advice -- to small businesses at this crucial time, because they are so important to the U.S. economy," said Charlie Scharf, head of Retail Financial Services at Chase, the commercial banking unit of JPMorgan Chase.

Chase also said it would:

  • Allow customers to request second loan reviews, to ensure the bank has examined all possible ways the business could access credit;
  • Roll out a new, expanded line of business credit cards with features designed to help business better manage cash flows; and
  • Host a series of seminars to help small business owners better understand the credit process.

The new line of credit cards, dubbed Ink from Chase, features include expanded credit lines, more flexible payment terms, generous rewards programs with cash-back options, online expense management tools and no annual fees.

"We designed Ink to help keep small businesses balanced and moving ahead so they can continue to succeed," said Richard Quigley, the Chase Card Services executive overseeing the new Incl product line.

Chase's program may seem a bit out of range for micro-enterprises, but it could be an indication of things to come. end of article

Editor's Note: This article was originally published March 12, 2010, by Inside Microfinance at www.insidemicrofinance.com . Posted with permission. Copyright 2010 by Patti Murphy, President, the Takoma Group.

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