Report: Small-business lending picks up pace

"This quarter’s report shows that SBLF participants are continuing to help thousands of small businesses invest, hire and expand in their local communities."

Lending has increased over seven straight quarters through the final three months of last year with the service and agriculture sectors receiving the largest number of loans. 

The lending represents about 38,000 additional small-business loans.

Program participants increased their lending by $1.5 billion more than the prior quarter, representing the second highest increase since the start of the program. 

Overall, community banks using the program have increased business lending by 38 percent. Treasury invested more than $4 billion in 332 institutions through the lending program. 

Banks that pick up their pace of lending can get a discounted rate on loans from the program. As of Dec. 31, the average rate paid by community banks on SBLF capital was 1.8 percent. 

The report includes information on the 320 institutions that continue to participate in the program as of March 15, including 270 community banks and 50 community development loan funds.

The lending program was established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010.