CIT Group Inc., back after fewer than six weeks in bankruptcy court, said it would waive a $1,000 packaging fee on loans approved under a Small Business Administration program.

This story first appeared in the December 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The lender, which last week emerged from bankruptcy as a public company, said it would waive the fee on the federal agency’s 7(a) loan applications through March 10. CIT previously committed $500 million to support government-guaranteed loan programs for the sector.

“The small business sector remains a key driver of job creation in America,” said Chris Reilly, president of the lender’s small business unit. “These recent announcements reflect our commitment to bringing much needed credit to this sector, and to helping small businesses access the capital they need to weather this difficult economic environment.”

CIT said small businesses employ nearly 59 million Americans.

The economy began to grow again in the third quarter and unemployment fell last month. But the jobless rate remains uncomfortably high at 10 percent, and the government’s been taking pains to highlight its efforts to spur job growth, including through loan programs.

“Even though we’ve reduced the deluge of job losses to a relative trickle, we are not yet creating jobs at a pace to help all those families who’ve been swept up in the flood,” said President Obama in a speech on job creation last week. “There are more than 7 million fewer Americans with jobs today than when this recession began.”

There is still hope for the recovery, though, as employment is considered a lagging indicator. The more forward-looking equity markets have been predicting better times ahead.

Retail stocks rose 0.9 percent, or 3.88 points, to 416.40 Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.3 percent, or 29.55 points, to 10,501.05. Both indices are within striking distance of their 52-week highs.

Shares of CIT lost 3.9 percent to close at $28.50.

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