WASHINGTON – The United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship today passed two bills to increase access to capital for small businesses and enhance small business trade opportunities.

S. 2869, the “Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act of 2009,” includes provisions to increase Small Business Administration (SBA) loan limits and extend government guarantees and fee eliminations enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year. S. 2862, the “Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act” will ensure small businesses have access to the resources and tools needed to explore new export opportunities in emerging markets or expand their current export business.

“By increasing the loan limits, small businesses across the country have greater access to credit. The SBA estimates that these limits will increase small business lending by $5 billion next year and will be budget neutral over time,” Chair Landrieu said. “America’s 29 million small businesses are really struggling with skyrocketing health insurance premiums and a tight credit market. Now that we have stabilized Wall Street, it is time to jump-start Main Street, and these bills will do just that.”

“Our most fundamental domestic challenge is to swiftly turn the economic tide and spur employment opportunities for the millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans. And the fastest route to doing just that runs straight through Main Street small businesses in cities and towns all across this nation,” said Ranking Member Snowe. “The bills this Committee passed today will augment credit availability and assist small businesses to market their products overseas, both of which will pay tremendous dividends on the job creation front. I thank Chair Landrieu for her efforts to pass these bipartisan bills in a timely manner, and I look forward to their swift passage by the full Senate.”

S. 2869 contains several critical provisions to bolster SBA assistance to America’s nearly 30 million small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Specifically, the bill would:

• Increase the loan limit on 7(a) loans from $2 million to $5 million;

• Increase the loan limit on 504 loans from $1.5 million to $5.5 million;

• Increase the loan limit on microloans from $35,000 to $50,000 and increase the maximum loan made to a microloan intermediary from $3.5 million to $5 million;

• Allow the 504 loan program to refinance short-term commercial real estate debt into, long-term, fixed rate loans;

• Extend the authorization to provide 90 percent guarantees on 7(a) loans and fee elimination for borrowers on 7(a) and 504 loans through December 31, 2010; and

• Direct the SBA to create a website where small businesses can identify lenders in their communities.

S. 2862 would strengthen and improve support for American entrepreneurs seeking opportunities to expand their business, create new jobs and compete in the international market. The bill would also:

• Establish an SBA Associate Administrator for International Trade to carry out the Agency’s international trade programs and formulate its trade and export policy;

• Bolster the number of SBA export finance specialists assigned to Export Assistance Centers;

• Raise, from $2 million to $5 million, the maximum amount of an International Trade Loan or Export Working Capital Program loan;

• Establish in statute an Export Express program and expand the maximum loan size from $250,000 to $500,000; and

• Create a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program to increase the number of small businesses that export and increase the value of the exports by small businesses.