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Small Business Loans

SBA Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) assists small business owners to start and expand their businesses by helping them get loans through private banks and financial institutions. SBA is the largest single financial backer for the nation's small businesses with a portfolio of business loans, loan guarantees and disaster loans worth more than $45 billion, in addition to a venture capital portfolio of $13 billion.

SBA offers a number of low-interest loan programs for new and expanding small businesses. SBA is not a lender, and does not grant loans directly to businesses. Rather, SBA is a guarantor of loans made by privately owned banks and other financial institutions that agree to follow SBA's guidelines.

To apply for an SBA loan, you need to visit your local participating bank or lending institution. When you apply for an SBA loan you are actually applying for a commercial loan, structured according to SBA requirements, which receives an SBA guaranty. This guaranty is portion of the loan the SBA will pay back to the lender should you default on your loan payments.

Research SBA Loan Programs describes SBA loan programs, including eligibility requirements, and how to apply for them.

Remember, that you'll need to go through a local bank or financial institution to apply for an SBA loan. Find an SBA Lender allows you to search for a list of SBA lenders in your neighborhood.

USDA Loans

If you operate a farm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program that works in the same manner as SBA loans. The USDA provides guarantees of up to 80 percent of a loan made by a commercial lender. Loan proceeds may be used for working capital, machinery and equipment, buildings and real estate, and certain types of debt refinancing.

The B&I Loan Guarantee Program Fact Sheet provides all you need to know about obtaining one of these loans, including eligibility, loan terms and conditions, equity requirements, and interest rates. Like SBA loans, you need to go through your local bank or financial institution to apply for a B&I loan. If you have any questions about the B&I Loan Guarantee Program or other financial options available for small farms, contact your state's Rural Development Field Office.

Other Federal Loan Programs

Depending on your type of business, you may qualify for specialized federal loan programs. For example, if you are small and disadvantaged business engaged in federal transportation contracts, you may qualify for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Short Term Lending Program.

If you are a small trucking company, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SmartWay Transport Partnership has partnered with several lenders to make money available to small trucking companies to help pay for technologies that saves fuel while reducing pollution.

To find other federal loan programs serving small business concerns, visit GovLoans.gov, the U.S. government's central database of government loan programs.

State and Local Loan Programs

Many state and local governments also offer low-interest loan programs that they guarantee through commercial lenders. Contact your local Small Business Development Center to get assistance with locating state and local funding sources for your small business.