Recent hand-wringing over small businesses' access to funding is in no small part because of the turmoil at CIT Group Inc., a major small-business lender that has undergone a swift restructuring in bankruptcy.

Since the nonbank finance company started running into trouble, customers have been looking for alternatives, either to replace their credit lines entirely or to at least help diversify their exposure. Select banks including BB&T Corp., which has an established commercial finance business, have been helping to fill the void, in many cases picking off the safest credits that have approached them. But most commercial banks are reticent right now to wade outside their comfort zones, especially to chase business that frequently is centered on pure financing as opposed to relationship banking.

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