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Wells Fargo ups small-firm loans

Wells Fargo has set a goal of at least $100 billion in new loans to small businesses over the next five years.

The bank, which announced the goal Thursday, plans a marketing and education program to make small businesses aware of its services. The company made nearly $19 billion in new small-business loans last year.

Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco wants to take advantage of small-business owners’ rising optimism.

The bank’s second-quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index rose to 47 from 45 in a January survey. Still, the index is well below the high of 114 it reached before the recession.

Microsoft picks Miami for innovation center

Microsoft is opening a state-of-the-art training facility in Miami, its first within the United States.

The tech giant, which made the announcement Friday, already has about 100 innovation centers in 80 countries worldwide, including Uganda and Greece.

These centers aim to help governments, academic institutions, community leaders and startups better use technology to innovate and develop more collaborative learning – with the goal of spurring economic development.

Microsoft is working with city and county officials to open the center next month. It will be housed at Venture Hive, an entrepreneurial institute in downtown Miami.

The Hive, which opened its doors last year thanks in part to city and country grants, already serves as an incubator and accelerator for about 35 companies from around the globe.

Energizer to split into 2 public companies

Energizer Holdings plans to split into two separate and publicly traded companies, one selling batteries and household items, the other selling personal care brands such as Schick razors and Edge shaving gel.

The St. Louis company believes the split will give each company a clearer focus and let each make a more transparent case to investors.

Reusable batteries have cut into traditional battery sales in recent years, though the company does have its own line of rechargeable batteries.

The split will be structured as a tax-free spinoff to existing Energizer shareholders, the company said. Energizer did not say under what names the companies will operate.