Still reeling from heavy criticism as a result of delays in its disaster loan programs following Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the Small Business Administration has received approval from lawmakers to revamp many of its programs.
According to reports, the Senate Small Business Committee gave its blessing to a three-year re-authorization of programs to hone the agency's disaster loan efforts and minority small business development.

New SBA administrator Steven Preston has advocated the agency's commitment to repair the disaster-loan program as well as forging partnerships with private-sector groups.

Under the revamp, the SBA would to create a new "bridge loan" program providing states federal guarantees on loans provided to assist with disaster relief. Those businesses affected by significant increases in energy costs would be provided up to $1.5 million in loans.

The Senate's SBA mandate also calls for the creation of a minority small business development office, which would have an annual budget of roughly $5 million.

In related news, small business owners are optimistic about the future, despite rising fuel prices and interest rate hikes, that, according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

The survey revealed that that more than 70 percent of small business owners indicated that their company's financial situation was very good or good. Some 80 percent predicted that they would be better off financially in one year. Just 6 percent felt they would be worse off.

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