A review of some of the biggest small business and start-up stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.

SBA reopens to a loan-application logjam: Congress finally struck a deal to reopen the government last week, allowing the Small Business Administration to resume operations on Thursday. During the 16-day closure, officials report that 700 entrepreneurs submitted $140 million worth of loan applications through the department’s signature lending platform, known as the 7(a) program. Jeanne Hulit, the agency’s acting administrator, wrote last week that “some things may take a little time to get back up and running,” including loan-application processing.

Shutdown took major toll on the economy: Standard and Poor’s has estimated that the government shutdown will cost $24 billion in lost economic output, or 0.6 percent of projected annualized GDP growth, while Moody’s Analytics pegged the impact at $23 billion. Others have suggested it will rob the National Parks of about $7 million in revenue and suck $2.4 billion out of travel spending.

Obamacare exchanges prove popular in some states: State health officials in Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Vermont and the District of Columbia have reported higher than expected visitors and enrollees on their new state-run, small-business health insurance exchanges, most of which opened on Oct. 1. In the nation’s capital, for instance, 250 business owners signed up in the first week, and about 350 have signed up so far in Minnesota. On the other hand, the federal exchange has run into a number of problems, and less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors actually enrolled in a health insurance plan during the first week.

Globally, small-business confidence at three-year high: Owners of small and mid-sized businesses reported their highest level of optimism in three years in the latest Sage Business Index, an annual measures of business confidence around the world. Based on a poll of 12,000 employers in 17 countries, the survey showed that most employers have more confidence than last year in their companies, their national economies as well as the global economy.

Small employers skimp on retirement plans: Seven in 10 firms with between 10 and 99 employees offer retirement plans compared to 95 percent of businesses with 500 or more workers, according to a new study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Moreover, those that offer plans, 19 percent of small firms have automatic enrollment, compared to 43 percent of large firms.

Franchises outpacing overall economy in terms of job growth: U.S. franchise employment increased by more than 15,000 workers last month, according to the ADP National Franchise Report. On a year-over-year basis, franchise employment is up 2.5 percent in 2013, compared to a 1.9 percent jump for the broader private sector.

LendingClub launches a small-business platform

LendingClub, an online peer-to-peer lending company, last week announced plans to start offering small-business loans as well as its bread-and-butter consumer loans. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company will allow individuals to start making loans to small companies starting sometime next year.

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

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