NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Small Business Lending Fund boosts loans by $1.5 billion. Banks receiving capital through the Small Business Lending Fund boosted lending by $1.5 billion in the first quarter vs. the prior three months, the seventh straight quarter of increases and the second highest since the start of the program in 2010, the Treasury said. In total, SBLF participants have increased small-business lending by about $8.9 billion since the depths of the recession in 2009. This increased lending represents an estimated 38,000 additional small business loans over baseline levels, according to Treasury. "In every region of the country, the Obama Administration's Small Business Lending Fund is supporting small and family-owned businesses with the funds they need to create jobs and grow," Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin said in a release. "This quarter's report shows that SBLF participants are continuing to help thousands of small businesses invest, hire and expand in their local communities." The SBLF was established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010. The fund encourages community banks to lend to small businesses by providing capital to the banks at reduced terms. The dividend or interest rate a community bank pays on SBLF funding is reduced as the bank increases its lending to small businesses -- providing a strong incentive for new lending to small businesses so that these firms can expand and create jobs, Treasury says. More than $4 billion has been invested in 332 institutions through the SBLF. As of Dec. 31, 2012, the average rate paid by community banks on SBLF capital was 1.8%. Individual community banks can reduce the rate they pay to 1% if they increase qualified small-business lending by 10% over their baseline. 2. Half of small-business owners are looking to invest this quarter. Small business owners are split on their outlook for 2013, Inc.com says. Half said they plan to invest in things like marketing, technology and hiring in the second quarter, according to the latest SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, which surveyed nearly 40,000 small business owners on their hiring and expansion plans this year.