The Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative, which ran from 2007 to 2013, was a program backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that was geared toward military veterans. While not a lender itself, the SBA guarantees repayment of small business loans, which frees up funds that small businesses might not otherwise qualify for through normal lending channels.
Among the primary loans that the SBA offered, the Patriot Express Small Business Initiative fell within its Basic 7(a) Loan Guaranty program. Money secured through these types of loans can be used for a variety of business purposes. The Patriot Express Small Business Initiative helped members of the military who wanted to start or expand their small businesses and needed small business loans to do so
Recipients of the Patriot Express loans typically used their financing for working capital, to purchase machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, to acquire land and buildings, to make tenant improvements under lease agreements, and, under special conditions, refinancing prior debt.
Patriot Express Small Business Loan Initiative Eligibility
For the six years that the Patriot Express Small Business Loan Initiative was available, the guaranteed loan program helped finance the business ventures of veterans, active members of the military, and their spouses. During its run, the program was open to certain members of the military community, including:
- Service-disabled veterans
- Active-duty servicemembers eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program
- Reservists and National Guard members
- Current spouses of any of the above
- The widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service or of a service-connected disability
The Size of the Small Business Loans That Were Offered
The Patriot Express small business loans were offered through SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide. Loans were available up to $500,000 and qualified for SBA’s maximum loan guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 up to $500,000. For small business loans above $350,000, lenders were required to take all available collateral.
The Interest Rates That Were Applied to These Loans
Patriot Express small business loans featured SBA’s lowest interest rates for business loans, generally between 2.25 percent to 4.75 percent over prime, depending upon the size and maturity of the loan.
Other Benefits of the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative
The SBA allowed revolving lines of credit under the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative. These loans also adopted many of the streamlined documentation and expedited processes and procedures of Small Business Administration’s SBAExpress small business loan program. As a result, it provided the fastest turnaround time for approvals of these types of small business loans.
The SBA and its resource partners also focused additional efforts on counseling and training to supplement the small business loan program. SCORE (an SBA partner) provided free online business counseling from retired executives who had expertise in supporting veteran entrepreneurs. They provided business advice to the military community 24/7 with a promised 48-hour response time.
Other Services Provided to Members of the Military
In addition to the small business loans once offered under its Patriot Express initiative, the SBA has veterans’ business development officers in district offices in every state that provide military community members full access to the SBA’s range of programs and services. For those who are already small business owners and who expect call-up to active military duty, the SBA and its resource partners can assist with:
- Preparing their small businesses before deployment
- Managing their small businesses
- Selling goods and services to the government
- Obtaining other SBA financing and financial assistance
- Obtaining Military Reserve Economic Injury Disaster Loans (MREIDL) loans of up to $1.5 million for small businesses that sustain an economic injury because an owner or essential employee has been called to active duty as a military reservist.