Small business lending in West Virginia has increased nearly 12 percent over the last year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The agency announced 2013 was its third highest year of ending to date, with more than $29 million in agency-backed loans generated nationwide during the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1.
In West Virginia, small businesses took out 183 loans totaling more than $39.5 million, an increase of 11.5 percent from the previous year.
"These loans are important to the economic impact of our state as small businesses represent 96 percent of all of our employers," said Judy McCauley, director of the SBA's West Virginia district office.
Huntington Bank, which was the largest SBA lender in the Midwest last year, issued 77 loans totaling $20 million to West Virginia small business.
"SBA lending is a core strategy for Huntington," said Deborah Stein, Huntington's director of business banking. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy because they create 66 percent of new jobs."
On Wednesday, acting SBA Administrator Jeanne Hulit announced the agency would cut loan fees to zero for all SBA-supported loans less than $150,000.
SBA regional spokeswoman Nikki Bowmar said the reduction is significant for West Virginia. Bowmar said 116, or 73 percent, of SBA-guaranteed loans last year were less than $150,000.
Borrowers previously had to pay up to 2 percent of the guaranteed portion in fees to the SBA. Bowmar said the cut in loan fees stands to save small business owners up to $2,550.