The federal Small Business Administration reports that there has been a 12 percent increase in loan activity for New Jersey small businesses in the past half-year.

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The hottest small business loan activity in the first half of fiscal year 2014 took place in Gloucester County, which saw a 110 percent increase. New Jersey SBA director Al Titone said this loan activity is vitally important to the state's economy, because over 90 percent of all businesses in the Garden State are considered small businesses.

"Small businesses are essential for the local economy, especially," Titone said. "They are the ones who are employing all of the local folks with kids, and the summer jobs."

The increased activity also reflects increased confidence by the lender institutions involved in this loan activity, according to Titone. TD Bank was the leader over the six-month period, allowing 67 loans for $6.1 million. Following close behind in the number of loans was Noah Bank, with 60 handed out for a total of $39.7 million.

Of New Jersey's 21 counties, 11 saw small business loan activity increase. Eight saw a decrease, and two remained unchanged. In total, 590 small business loans were approved by the SBA over this half-year period, for a total of $295 million.