WASHINGTON (10/6/11)--The Small Business Administration (SBA) backed $30.5 billion in loans to small businesses and start-ups in fiscal 2011, setting a yearly record, the agency reported on Wednesday. Nearly half of 2011’s SBA lending activity took place in the first quarter, when $12 billion in loans were provided, the SBA said in a release. The volume of loans provided in 2011 first quarter was more than four times the dollar volume of the same quarter in 2009 and more than double the volume of any quarter over the past four years, the SBA added. The agency said this unprecedented activity in the first quarter was due to SBA loan enhancements that allowed it to increase guarantees on 7(a) loans to 90% and to waive fees that were previously added to 7(a) and 504 loans. The agency noted that program-related lending returned to pre-recession levels after the first quarter. SBA Administrator Karen Mills said, “due to the Small Business Jobs Act and a return to pre-recession lending levels, over 61,000 small businesses had access to capital.” SBA-approved loans totaled $22.6 billion in 2010 and $17.9 billion in 2009. The previous high mark for approved loans was 2007’s total of $28.5 billion. Eligible credit unions may participate in the SBA’s Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage programs. Those programs are aimed at increasing the number of lower-dollar SBA 7(a) loans going to small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities. For the full SBA release, use the resource link.