(AP) — The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 reauthorized and expanded the State Small Business Credit Initiative, providing $10 billion to distribute to states, the District of Columbia, territories and tribes to expand access to capital and promote entrepreneurship, particularly in underserved communities.

The Treasury Department so far has allocated more than $1.5 billion for programs in 14 states. These are the states approved and the maximum amounts they’ll receive:

Kansas, approved for up to $69,596,847, will operate a loan participation program, the GROWKS Loan Fund, and an equity program, the GROWKS Angel Capital Support Program, with over 80% of its funds. These programs will expand access to capital for underserved communities by providing companion loans and equity investments with varying levels of SSBCI support. Kansas estimates that approximately 40% of businesses supported will be women-owned, and 20% will be minority-owned small businesses.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called it a “historic investment” that will promote equitable economic growth across the U.S.

A White House report released last month found more Americans are starting businesses than ever. In 2021, they applied to launch 5.4 million new businesses — 20% more than any other year on record. They’re also creating more jobs.

Yet the financial landscape has been challenging.

A survey earlier this year from the Federal Reserve showed about 85% of small businesses experienced financial difficulties in 2021, up nearly 20 percentage points from 2019. Back then, more than half of owners who sought a loan were looking to expand; last year, the majority of applicants needed funds just to cover everyday operating expenses.

Meanwhile, inflation is the highest in decades, with prices soaring for raw materials and finished goods and workers demanding higher wages. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, which means the cost of borrowing money is going up.

Even in normal times, it can be tough for small businesses to get loans from traditional banks because they lack the assets and credit histories of bigger companies. During the pandemic, banks have been stingier outside COVID-related programs. Two years in, loan applicants are more likely to get turned down or receive less than they asked for compared to before COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.