NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Franchise lending jumps, but still falls short of demand. Lending to U.S. franchise businesses will reach its highest level since the recession, providing $23.9 billion in lending to support 59,300 unit transactions, yet will still fall short of demand, according to a study conducted by FRANdata for the International Franchise Association. According to the study, demand for franchise funding to spur growth has surged in 2013, up 10.6% over 2012. However despite the increase in lending, there is still a $2.6 billion shortfall between franchise demand and the banks' ability to meet the funding demands. "Franchise growth is inextricably linked to the availability of small business lending and we are pleased to see a positive trend in the availability of capital to existing and prospective franchisees," said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira. "Franchising remains the most viable business model in the world to quickly grow and scale a business. The surge in lending to franchises since the recession reflects the continued popularity of franchising as a means for investors to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves. Many lenders often view franchising's proven, structured and scalable business model as a lower risk profile due to the support many franchisors are offering franchisees during the economic recovery." This year, new and existing franchise units will create or maintain 797,700 jobs and generate $106 billion of annual economic output to the American economy, the IFA says. 2. What's hot in Silicon Valley right now? Want to know what ideas are really getting venture capitalists excited in Silicon Valley? Bitcoin, mobile messaging, 3D printing, information security, are just a few of the ideas thrown out on a post on Quora. 3. Small-business growth stalls. The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index, after three months of gains, dropped last month. According to The Business Journals, the index fell 1.3 points to 89.5 -- the index's average score of 90.7 since the recession ended in July 2009. "Virtually no owners think the current period is a good time to expand, because they simply don't know what the future holds," said NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said in a statement. "So why invest?" -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.