A look back at the some of the biggest small business stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.

SBA taps first start-up investment partner

The agency has selected North Carolina-based Hatteras Venture Partners as the first federally licensed Early Stage Investment Fund and will begin providing matching capital for the firm’s investments in early-stage businesses. The distinction was born out of the White House’s recent expansion of the Small Business Investment Company program.

President Barack Obama announced Chief of Staff Jack Lew as his nominee for Treasury secretary on Thursday. (JASON REED/REUTERS)

Obama’s second-term economic team takes shape

President Obama has nominated his chief of staff, Jack Lew, to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and lead his administration’s charge in the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling. Robert S. Khuzami, head of the enforcement division at the Securities and Exchange Commission, also stepped down from his post last week.

Small business credit freeze thawing

Small business borrowing levels have returned to pre-recession levels, according to one lending index, and another shows big banks are warming back up to small applicants. One business owner says alternative lenders are also lining up to provide capital to firms that don’t qualify for help from those banks.

Disaster loans moving slowly to businesses after Sandy

Thousands of firms damaged by Superstorm Sandy are still waiting for word on disaster loans, as the Small Business Administation has approved only 514 loans for businesses from more than 8,000 requests. Meanwhile, Congress has twice delayed votes on additional funding for loans to storm-struck homeowners and businesses.

Bootstrapped ventures eyeing growth this year

A new survey of self-funded private companies by an investment firm in San Francisco suggests bootstrappers have high hopes for 2013. Nearly two out of three expect their businesses to grow faster this year than last year and more than half expect to hire new workers, though many are worred about finding qualified job seekers.

Kickstarter facilitates $319 million of investments

More than 18,000 projects received a total of $319 million in online crowdfuning investments in 2012 through Kickstarter, a site known for connecting artists, developers and entrepreneurs to a large base of small investors. Another site, Indiegogo, reports that its project numbers jumped 20 percent this past year.

New mortgage rule could benefit small banks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new mortgage rules prohibit consumers from qualifying for a mortgage if they have debts exceeding 43 percent of their annual income. However, regulators included an exemption for small banks and credit unions, which could help them attract more low- and moderate-income mortgage seekers.

OSB business of the week: Matternet. The Palo Alto start-up is building a fleet of unmanned arial drones to deliver medical supplies to the far corners of the world.

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

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