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Florida gets $97 million in federal funds for small business loans

Florida will receive $97 million for a new federal program that supports state-level, small-business lending programs, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday.

The program will provide two separate pools of money in Florida. One will be administered by Florida’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and Enterprise Florida, Inc., a public-private economic development partnership. They’ll administer the Venture Capital Program, which will make investments in small businesses as well as the Florida Small Business Loan Support Program.

The other pool, also overseen by the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, is expected to free up banks to make loans by giving them access to money that boosts their loan loss reserves. The Florida Capital Access Program is expected to spur small business lending by private sector lenders, said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“This is all about jobs, and it’s all about providing jobs through small business, which is the main part of the engine of our economy in Florida,” Nelson said.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia got approval Tuesday for the $360 million program, part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Barack Obama signed into law last fall.

“Unlocking credit for small businesses will provide a powerful boost for investment and job creation in local communities across the country,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said Tuesday.

The program is expected to generate as much as $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding, Wolin said. He anticipates that the $360 million allocation will support as much as $3.6 billion in new private lending.