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M&T leads small-business lending program, but Citizens and Five Star are stepping up

M&T Bank continued to lead the way in a federal government-guaranteed small-business lending program in Buffalo and Rochester in May.

But Five Star Bank and Citizens Bank are ranked higher than they used to be.

M&T approved 60 loans in May in the region, according to the Small Business Administration, which runs the program. That was about 45 percent of the 133 loans made last month under the program in the region.

Five Star has pushed to bolster its small-business lending, and the numbers show it. Five Star approved 25 of the loans and ranked second behind M&T.

First Niagara, which is on the verge of being acquired by KeyCorp, approved only six of the loans in May. But for the first eight months of the fiscal year, which began in October, First Niagara still ranked No. 4 in total loans.

Citizens Bank, which is also stepping up its small-business lending, approved 11 loans under the program and ranks No. 3 for the fiscal year thus far.

Two banks that are about to become bigger players in the Buffalo Niagara market, KeyBank and Northwest Bank, had a modest or minimal presence in the SBA program.

Key had only 16 of the loans for the first eight months of the fiscal year. Northwest, which is preparing to buy 18 First Niagara branches in the market, had just one of the loans, for $10,000.

All the lenders together – including some based out of the area – approved 744 loans worth $100 million through the first eight months of the fiscal year. A year ago, the totals were 516 loans for $91 million.