Paychex and Biz2Credit are providing an online loan resource center that helps direct small-business owners to funds from more than 1,200 lenders. Offerings include Small Business Administration loans, business lines of credit and microloans.
Jerome Byers, head of Citigroup's small-business banking operations, is working to ensure that small-business owners know the bank is interested in helping them and gaining their business. "We have a 1,000-branch network in the United States that last year lent $7.9 billion to small-business owners. That's a great story. There are 260,000-plus customers in that network. We need to talk a little bit more about that," he said.
Wells Fargo has made $8.5 billion in Small Business Administration-backed loans during the past decade, making it one of the country's largest small-business lenders. Lisa Stevens, head of small-business banking at Wells Fargo, discusses in a question-and-answer session the bank's initiatives in small-business lending.
Banks say they are fulfilling a pledge made two years ago to the White House to increase small-business credit. Lending to borrowers with less than $20 million in annual revenue climbed 21% at Citigroup and 28% at Bank of America last year compared with 2011.
Small-business optimism is on the upswing as 2013 begins, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey. The poll's measure of optimism rebounded 20 points in January after dropping 28 points in December, likely a reaction to worries about the "fiscal cliff." Still, optimism remains low, and businesses are operating cautiously.