The Federal Reserve Board released a 75-page report Wednesday on small-business lending.
In a dramatic turnaround from the tight credit of the early 1990s, the Fed said access to credit is no longer the biggest challenge facing small businesses.
Those businesses, the Fed said, remain reliant on commercial banks. "Small businesses in virtually every sector of the economy, including very small businesses, continue to meet the bulk of their credit needs at commercial banks," the Fed concluded.
The report fulfills a 1996 law's mandate that the central bank update Congress on small-business lending every five years. It discusses the impact of two big trends: industry consolidation and the growing importance of credit scoring in lending decisions.
While competition for small-business loans has intensified, the Fed had some good news for community banks: Business owners want more than a good deal, they want a relationship with their lender.