Today the U.S. Small Business Administration announced new lender guidelines for the America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program it unveiled last month.

According to the SBA release, the ARC program provides emergency funds, in the forms of deferred loans, of up to $35,000 to “viable small businesses suffering immediate financial hardship.” These loans are not provided directly by the SBA, but through SBA-backed lenders – mostly smaller or community banks – and are 100 percent guaranteed by the government and have no lender fees attached.

The SBA defines a “viable” business as an “established, for-profit business with evidence of profitability or positive cash flow in at least one of the past two years.” The term “immediate financial hardship” is subsequently defined by the SBA as “evidence to show a change in the financial condition such as declining sales, frozen credit lines, difficulty meeting payroll, paying rent, difficulty making loan payments or perhaps something else.”

SBA lenders will start dispensing ARC loans next week,  on June 15.

Eric Zarnikow, associate administrator for Capital Access – the SBA department overseeing the new loans, said he expects 10,000 ARC loans to be doled out over the next 15 months until the September 30, 2010 cutoff date.

In an attempt to make sure all small businesses from across the country benefit from the program, Zarnikow said there will be an ARC loan cap of 50 per week to each SBA-approved lending institution, with no more than 1,000 loans issued from any one lender in total.