For the third year in a row, Bangor Savings Bank was the top lender of U.S. Small Business Administration loans in Maine, according to the SBA.

Bangor Savings issued $10.4 million in SBA loans to 74 new or existing businesses during the 2013 federal fiscal year, the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, bank officials said, noting that the figure was a record for the bank.

The bank hosted a celebration Wednesday at Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., a new business founded in Portland with an SBA loan from Bangor Savings, to celebrate the milestone.

“We take very seriously our role as a financial provider to all of you in the state,” Bangor Savings Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer John Edwards told a group of loan recipients and government officials at the event. “We see ourselves as a partner to the small-business community.”

In all, Maine banks provided 422 SBA loans totaling $110 million to small businesses statewide in federal fiscal year 2013, according to the SBA.

Maine was the only state in New England that had an increase in both the number and total value of SBA loans issued compared with the previous year, the SBA said.

The SBA’s definition of a small business is one with fewer than 500 employees. According to 2008 data, there are about 147,500 small businesses in Maine, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all private-sector jobs.

Bissell Brothers co-founders Peter and Noah Bissell said they recently hired their craft brewery’s first employee and will begin selling its first product in a few weeks at local grocery and liquor stores, a pale ale the brothers have named “The Substance.”

Peter Bissell said getting the business started was a long and arduous process.

“It has taken us years to get where we are today and to finally make our vision for this new venture a reality,” he said. “We were fortunate to partner with Bangor Savings fairly early in the process.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 207-791-6390 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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