WASHINGTON — Community banks participating in a government program upped their lending to small businesses by $7.4 billion over baseline levels during the third quarter,  according to a report released Tuesday by the Treasury Department.

That figure was $740 million higher than the previous quarter, and the sixth consecutive quarter in which Small Business Lending Fund participants, which receive government capital in exchange for a commitment to boost lending to small businesses, have boosted such lending, according to the report. Treasury said that community banks had "substantially" increased their business lending compared to peers that did not participate in the program.

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