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Utah has been chosen as one of four states to participate in a Small Business Administration pilot program that seeks to broaden the impact of the agency's efforts to aid Hispanic entrepreneurs.

The pilot program — an alliance between the SBA and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — is designed to help widen the agency's outreach efforts and connect Hispanic small business owners and entrepreneurs with local leaders and business counseling to help them grow and create more jobs.

Stan Nakano, Utah SBA district director, said the new partnership should help spur Hispanic business growth throughout the state.

And it will help forge stronger relationships among SBA district offices, local U.S. Hispanic Chambers of Commerce chapters and SBA resource partners.

More specifically, the partnership will seek to increase access to lending and counseling for Hispanic small businesses, widen participation of small Hispanic-owned businesses in SBA's procurement programs and spread awareness of SBA's programs and services among the Hispanic business community.

"An economy built to last includes boosting entrepreneurship opportunities in Hispanic American communities," SBA Administrator Karen Mills said in a statement announcing the new initiative. "The SBA is having a powerful impact in this sector, with a billion dollars in loans to Hispanic-owned businesses last year alone. The pilot program … will help us do better."

She noted that since 2009, the SBA has supported more than 12,000 loans worth some $4.4 billion to Hispanic-owned small businesses, with nearly $1 billion in lending in 2012 alone.

The other states selected to participate in the pilot program are Florida, Ohio and California. In addition, four cities — Austin and El Paso, Texas, Nashville and Philadelphia — will be participating.

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