Is TARP money the answer for small businesses?

NORWICH Ė The Obama administrationís proposal to recycle the $30 billion left in the Troubled Asset Relief Program into a new Small Business Lending Fund isnít the answer to promoting economic growth, according to the president of one of the areaís largest community lenders.

ďI donít think itís quite so simple,Ē explained Martin Dietrich, who sits at the helm of NBT Bancorp. The Norwich-based bank holding company operates two full-service community banks Ė PennStar Bank, which has 38 branches in Northeast Pennsylvania, and NBT Bank, which operates more than 85 branches in New York and neighboring Vermont.

The plan, unveiled last week by President Barack Obama, is aimed at encouraging community banks, like those operated by NBT, to increase their lending to small businesses. The hope is that better access to credit will enable the nationís small businesses to expand and create new jobs.

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