A new resource has emerged when it comes to boosting small business growth in the U.S.: big bank hosted programs that match up small business owners with mentors such as financial advisers and business experts, while simultaneously helping to finance their expansion. What’s unique about these programs is that they not only provide financial support but key guidance to help small businesses capitalize on that support to drive real growth.

Banks featuring smart growth programs include the Swiss bank UBS, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co. Rather than startups, these programs are aimed at established entrepreneurs who have gotten as big as they are going to get based on the current resources they have available to them. While the focus differs from institution to institution, the main theme and intent remains the same: combining financing and training to foster growth.

This is, in part, a response to a general consensus among economic experts that small business success is one of the driving forces of overall economic growth, coupled with strong evidence that small businesses continue to struggle. For instance, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that its small business optimism index fell for May, with only 7 percent of small businesses indicating that now was a good time to expand. This is believed to be due in part to a lack of overall confidence in the economy, combined with a lack of financial literacy that is making it difficult for businesses to find innovative ways to expand.

However, not all the news is positive. In fact, according to some economists, small businesses overall are still having difficulty getting access to financing. A recent survey by Pepperdine and Dun & Bradstreet focused on small business growth in California supports this assertion, citing that roughly two-thirds of California businesses with an annual revenue of less than $5 million listed difficulty in acquiring financing as limiting their expansion and growth.

Faughnder, Ryan. “Banks Are Giving Small Businesses a Helping Hand.” Los Angeles Times. 7/5/12. (7/6/12.) http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-small-business-20120705,0,1847673.story.