Business lending improving, but not for all

Small businesses looking to grow say they're running into challenges when they seek financing: Loans are harder to secure, and sometimes are more expensive than before the recession.

Lending is picking up in Charlotte and around the country. But it hasn't thawed enough to spark meaningful job growth, and business owners and advocates say that's a drag on the economic recovery.

Lenders say they want to do deals but that many businesses are hesitant to take on more debt. They acknowledge their standards are strict in the wake of a devastating financial crisis and tougher regulations. And some say they're taking fewer risks.

One recent study found just 30 percent of small businesses that wanted credit would qualify for traditional or Small Business Administration-backed loans, with interest rates below 8 percent. Nearly half would have to turn to alternatives, such as unsecured credit, that can cost as much as 31 percent, according to the survey from MultiFunding, a Pennsylvania startup that helps businesses find the right lender.

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