We also are committed to small business development and growth. Our affiliates provide access to credit and capital and promote technical assistance to small businesses through our associations with several government agencies and non-profit organizations, such as the United States Small Business Administration (SBA)'s Volunteer Business Counselors Association, the Small Business Technology Council and local community development corporations.
SBA data reveals that from mid-2009 through 2011, companies with less than 500 employees created 67 percent of net new jobs in our economy. In 2010, there were 27.9 million U.S. small businesses. These companies fuel our recovering economy and provide new employment opportunities. Small companies require constant capital and access to financial resources to hire new employees and expand services and geographic reach.
Last year, Fifth Third Bank was ranked first by Ath Power Consulting for Small Business Banking Advocacy. We attribute this recognition to our commitment to getting to know our customers and addressing their needs with smart, specific financial solutions. Also in 2012, we began offering four additional loan products from the SBA program. As an SBA Preferred Lender, we can now extend credit and financing to help small businesses expand, improve working capital or enter new markets. We now offer:
SBA Patriot Express Loans. These are for veterans and members of the military community that want to establish or expand small businesses.
CAPLines Program. This enhanced program offers small businesses a revolving line of credit that aids in financing contracts to address short-term and cyclical working capital needs.
SBA Export Express. This loan benefits businesses that have been in operation for at least 12 months and can demonstrate that loan proceeds will support export development activity.
SBA International Trade Loan. This provides small businesses with financing options to support export transactions and help them enter and expand into international markets.
Through all economic cycles, Fifth Third Bank has remained committed to supporting businesses both large and small. In 2012, Fifth Third lent nearly $34 billion to businesses to foster their growth and hiring plans.
We also pay particular attention to underserved areas and individuals to help ensure that all consumers and businesses across our geographic territory have fair and equitable opportunities to start, maintain and expand businesses.
One example is our participation in a microenterprise project of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, a partnership of several entities that offers training and grants to help disadvantaged individuals start their own business. Likewise, Fifth Third Bank (Eastern Michigan) supported Urban Rebound's Count Me In Business Incubator program in Detroit. It is designed to give women entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn how to pitch their product or service in preparation to compete for scholarships that help fund and develop small businesses. In addition, our Western Michigan affiliate made a grant of $40,000 to Cornerstone Alliance to expand delivery of small business services and create the Fifth Third Venture Fund.