Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama to Announce Aid for Small Businesses

Filed at 7:51 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amid misgivings over his spending blueprint, President Barack Obama has decided to provide billions of dollars in federal lending aid aimed at struggling small business owners.

The broad package of measures to be announced Monday includes $730 million from the stimulus plan that will immediately reduce small-business lending fees and increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent. The government also will take aggressive steps to boost bank liquidity with more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, according to officials briefed on the plan who demanded anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president's announcement.

''It's a huge step in the right direction,'' Giovanni Coratolo, director of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Saturday. ''In this economy, having the least amount of risk for banks will incentivize banks to lend to small businesses. A lot of small businesses will benefit from this.''

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