BizJournals, By: Kent Hoover

The Small Business Administration is encouraging its lenders to give struggling borrowers a break...

The agency’s request to lenders comes at a time when both conventional lending to small businesses and use of the SBA’s government-guaranteed loans have declined. In fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, fewer than 70,000 small businesses received 7(a) loans — down 30 percent from the previous year. Loan volume in the first half of October was down 50 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

“Despite the extraordinary financial crisis, the agency has been of little help to the very people they’re meant to serve,” said Kerry, who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

In an Oct. 20 letter to President Bush, Kerry urged the administration to temporarily suspend fees on SBA loans and reduce their interest rates.

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