Often treated as an afterthought by the Bush White House, the Small Business Administration has gained newfound prominence under President Barack Obama and its tireless administrator, Karen Mills.

With job creation as its main objective, the SBA is using every tool in its toolbox to make itself more relevant to small business owners and the banks that lend to them. Armed with funds from the $787 billion economic stimulus package it has temporarily lowered administrative fees and raised the government guarantee, to 90 percent, on 7(a) loans; established a no-interest microloan program to aid cash-strapped small businesses; established a program to help auto dealers finance inventories; and created a secondary market for first mortgages made through the SBA's 504 loan program.

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